A shout out for sci-fi 3D file systems

Hey readers. One of scifiinterface’s writers, Hugh Fisher, is embarking on a cross-show analysis of speculative 3D file browsers. He first started thinking of it when viewing Hackers and remembering Jurassic Park. What others can you think of? (Yes, we know of Johnny Mnemonic, but it’s 3D cyberspace, not files, innit?)

Please list others you can think of in the comments (which is here for those reading RSS). The more detail you can provide, the better. And thanks in advance!

14 thoughts on “A shout out for sci-fi 3D file systems

  1. As mentioned briefly on twitter https://twitter.com/patrick_h_lauke/status/963104183711879169 – the horrendously clunky file browsing in “Disclosure” (1994). Despite creating a hyperreal, cathedral-like environment with impossible architectures, file browsing involves walking into an actual archive room, with slide-out drawers and hanging folders (whose contents then magically float into the air). Even at the time it struck me as a weird skeuomorphism.

  2. Does “Crewman Daniels'” Temporal Database from Enterprise’s “Future Tense” count?

    I’ve always thought that the JP “Unix system” was a terrible interface. My dad, who was a Unix engineer when JP came out loves to remind people that that system is not unix, and there is no way that Lex could have immediately recognized it as such without pulling up the command line. Which begs the question of why Lex, who is a hacker, didn’t immediately pull up the same command line interface that we see Arnold and Nedry using, surely if she knew Unix, she’d know the key command to pull it up.

    • Sorry Josh, but your dad must have had an awfully narrow definition of “unix” to say that. As an old guy who was around at the time, I can say that is definitely an SGI workstation running IRIX 4. The 3D file system navigator was a real program, written by SGI to show off the 3D graphics, and you can see that Lex starts at /usr. But yeah, a real hacker would have pulled up an Xterm.

  3. Does that scene on the train in Tron count as a 3D file system?

    JanusVR has a 3D file system where you walk through series of doors that function as entering/exiting folders.

    Fantastic Contraption in VR has method for saving models thats is a file system lite. It also has some really good diegetic interfaces in general.

    I know its not sci-fi but as a shameless plug this is a project I worked on using leap motion to create a 3D file interface.

    • I’ve watched that episode now and the VR segments (B plot in an otherwise present day sitcom) are hilarious and spot-on. Recommended viewing!

  4. Thank you Patrick for Disclosure. It goes on the “bad movie DVD bulk order” list 🙂

    Adam, the Gaia search looks like a file search, and apparently voice activated too. Thanks.

    Zak, I’ll rewatch Tron – this would be the new one, right? I don’t remember such a thing in the classic. As for VR demonstrations other than in movie/TV, they’re not eligible. (Besides, there are too many of them.)

    However, if you’re interested in this kind of thing, want to co-author? Read the contributor guidelines first though.

    djempirical, I’ll take a look. Maybe I can steal – er, incorporate – some of the material.

  5. Three academic papers that might be(very) tangentially related and contain some links to other works: http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/ewic_hci09_paper43.pdf and http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom/chi/chi.html

    Furthermore, in the Shadowrun role playing game, ‘deckers’ hack computer systems by travelling between nodes in a kind of cyberspace. Files are represented as 3D objects IIRC. See e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koxlxlAwOA0 for a computer game adaption.

    • Thanks for the papers, I’ll read them.

      Yeah, the Shadowrun and Cyberpunk RPGs both had 3D cyberspace browsing. Tempting though it is to dive into more nostalgia, I’ll have to rule them out as not being movies.

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