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Tenor, The Context Link Engine - page 4

Traditional File Managers--Good, Not-So-Good, and Best-of-Breed

  • April 13, 2005
  • By Kurt Pfeifle

So the idea of finding a concept that handles "files" in a different way than every OS before sounded like something very compelling to me the first time I heard about it (and ever since).

KDE's Scott Wheeler has been brooding about the problem already for some time: "Why is it that Google can find some matching content on the Internet faster than I can find a document on my own harddisk?"

Scott has developed a concept for an entirely new way to access documents and data on your computers. The idea is to not throw away contextual information and not ignore meta data, as we do now. Instead, we should store these things for later reuse and retrieval.

If I save an image attached to a certain e-mail today, a lot of relevant context is lost forever (unless my brain accidentally remembers it): Who sent me the picture? Is the sender in my address book? Did she send mails before? Did she send more graphic files in her other mails? Where have I used this picture?

Of course, we shouldn't need to manually enter this info. As human beings we tend to be lazy and we wouldn't enter this information very often or very consistently. The system should do this automatically for us. And the information should be put to good use once we tried to find certain information (files or content) again.

Scott's "Contextual Linkage Engine" is called Tenor. It is projected to collect all of this meaningful information from all programs we use. Of course, this isn't an easy task. First of all, the programs need to support this functionality. Tenor support must be deeply rooted in the environment it works within. KDE is an excellent research and development ground for this. After all, its individual components and applications are already integrated better than all its competitors.

Scott had this to say about Tenor: "The cool thing with Tenor is that it's asking bigger questions than the recent round of desktop search tools. It goes beyond 'Which of my files contains this information?', though it does do that too. But the point is, it also extends it to say, 'What's related to this?' and being able to search through those relationships too."

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