Fieldviewer

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n 1995, I worked on designing a different kind of operating interface to see if I could do better than Windows. I found that the optimum (as far as efficiency goes) interface (for me anyway) would be just to perfect the Windows File Manager. In other words, the job is finished except for polishing. Things like allowing for hidden folders, shortcuts (which they pretty much did with '95), more drag n' drop, letting me get rid of those damn icons (at least most of them . . . I'm not an ancient Egyptian . . . I don't read hieroglyphics), etc.

But I did invent a new system. It would not be appropriate for personal files so I dismissed it as cute but useless 'til I got Webfeet. What this system is good for is managing millions of files (not hundreds . . . millions . . . tens of millions).

It is the graphic analog of hypertext. Or, to put it exactly,
HYPERTEXT is to a FIELD VIEWER
as DOS is to WINDOWS.

What then is a field viewer?

Let me put this in right here.
This is my personal creation without reference to anyone else's designs but I have to assume that many others have had similar ideas. They're just not available yet. You will see something like this in the next two years. (Hopefully)

This is a Field Viewer,

WRL: 08:11 , 21:09 , 362:128 is like a URL except it refers to map coordinates on the field. (In this case a map of North America) There are three levels to this map:
1) The North America map is the whole WoRLd (there can be nothing else . . . no other main map . . . everything must be subsumed by this map else the scheme for finding things won't work).
2) Hit the "space bar" and you cycle through two more levels of map depending on where the cursor is on the present map. The 2nd level down would show a map of about 1/200 of the world map (or more, depending on how many maps you want to store on the CD rom). More details show up. Hit the space bar again and you go to . . .
3) The sites themselves are rented pixels. How many pixels do you want in which to advertise your site (or maybe you want to show the whole thing)? Each pixel is allowed to represent just so many bytes (say, 1 kilobyte here).

After you select the level you want with the space bar, you cruise the terrain with the fieldmouse (a word that I see someone else is using already). The function of the fieldmouse I call "Click 'n Go". This means that you put the pointer on some part of the map and click once and that selection becomes the new center of the present map. If you want to go to that map (at a larger scale) or view the web site which is at the center of the map, just click the center and you're there.

Drag and drop to the side bars whatever you wish to save or view later or e-mail later, etc.
I think the picture is fairly clear by now. You can see why such a system could not compete with the file manager for managing hundreds of files but millions? It beats Windows easily. They are meant for different tasks at completely different scales.

Hypertext is like going somewhere efficiently but blind. A fieldviewer adds the element of visual serendipity lacking in hypertext. As you click 'n go through the lower maps (along visually represented roads and highways) you might encounter excellent and curious things "up in those mountains" or "down by Lake Tahoe", etc. (wherever someone has rented pixels . . . and bear in mind that pixels rented next to, say, Microsoft, will be more expensive . . . location, location, location).
Eventually 3D towns will spring up on the prairie or whatever. As long as the main and secondary maps remain two dimensional the scheme will be effective. I hasten to add here that we view things on a two dimensional screen and because we want to go places we must be able to see them openly.

Now if you look back at the gif file, you see a little square in the center. That square is meant to be expandable in the standard way. It will show what lies under that place on the larger map. It is the actual "Fieldviewer". It is a telescope/microscope. Make it long or wide or big or small to suit your needs. At the bottom of the screen is a toggle Fieldviewer / Fieldmouse. Click on Fieldviewer and it changes color to show it is now in use. Move it with your mouse and look around from high up. You know where you are on the main map and on the second level because both are immediately visible. (The exact position on the main map is at the crosshairs of the fieldviewer. Also note that the viewer must get smaller as it approaches the edges of the main map.)

The side bars have user created tools. The ones I've designed here are just containers for URLs and WRLs that you have gone to. Click on one and you go directly to it. They scroll by clicking on the label button (e.g. [USER 1]) and holding, or, drag 'n drop the button up or down or put it somewhere else (snaps to sides).
Set up an automatic tour of favorite places, click on it and use the space bar to check out each place successively (this is an online thing). Click on the button [Online] and go on line. [Online] once again to go off line (changes color). I think everything is more or less obvious. Just things you already do.

Storage on the CD rom

In this example there are about 500 second level maps at, let's say 50K each = ~ 25 Megabytes worth of pictures which leaves, on a 5 Gigabyte rom, ~ 5 Gigabytes for Web pages.
We have then about 200,000 pixels per map (x) 500 maps = 100,000,000 pixels to sell.
5 Gigs is 5,000,000,000 bytes (/) 100,000,000 pixels = 50 bytes per pixel ( enough for about 6 words and a URL). If a site ad is one kilobyte, about 5 million Web sites can be accomodated as 1K ads.

You get to specify the color of your pixel(s) [256 colors only]. The remainder of your ad is in HTML.

The arrangement of the material on the CD will determine the overall access speed. If the thing is too slow it will go over like a 286 on the net (DOA).
Seven second level maps are RAMMED with the center one onscreen (the main map ought to have been constructed like a brickwork ... I just noticed this). When you move into a new screen that screen becomes the center of a new selection of 7 screens, i.e. 3 new screens are loaded if you move to the screen adjacent or 3 new screens are also added if you move to the diagonal.

But the main speed enhancement will be roads. Most Web sites will have addresses on roads. When you're cruising the ROM, you stay on a road because the road you are on is rammed first. If you stay on it, you don't have to wait for a new load from the CD player. The roads are physically stored on the CDrom in sequence so that the entire road can be loaded with maximum efficiency.
When you load the fieldbrowser program, it takes note of every road you choose to travel on and how far you traveled it and uses this information to decide on a probabilistic loading sequence. So that if you never go more than half way down a given road the computer will learn not to load the whole road.

What might happen on the maps . . .

This is a somewhat fanciful account of things that might develop on such CD roms.
They are just guesses.

Large companies will have many pixels rented (perhaps enough to appear on the secondary maps). Individuals might try to rent pixels right next to, say, Microsoft. So the rent will go up on those pixels.
You might rent a few pixels in Religion city and have "zoning complaints" that you hold atheistic views and don't belong.
Perhaps, you will wish to go it alone out in the boondocks where rent is cheaper but hits are fewer.
People will try, to the best of their ability, to stand out from the crowd. It would surely be interesting to see what happens in a graphical Web World (in conjunction with the textual Web World that now exists).

Addendum 10/10/97:
I see that Geocities has a very few of the features I'm looking for at present. But what I really want is "paid indexing" in the above format by a major search engine.



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