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The Brain Mapped Into the File Directory, March 2nd, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: March 2nd, 1997
"The Brain Mapped Into the File Directory" [permalink]
    keywords: file directory, computer geeks, personality
    soapbox #: 74
    written: March 2nd, 1997
    words: 734

"The Brain Mapped Into the File Directory", an Essay

I guess I'm a little hooked on how computers affect the daily lives of people, or perhaps I'm fascinated with the physical manifestations of the human personality.

You know how detectives or snoopers will dig through other peoples' trash to find out a little more about their lifestyle, interests, and personality? They can read the notes you throw away and delve into what you're thinking about. They'll even find body parts sometimes, and that's usually a subtle hint that they have a possible suspect. They can even determine if you're a junkie if there's Mountain Dew cans in the trash.

The same can be said with someone's computer file directory, if he uses his computer often. I'm thoroughly convinced that someone's personality seeps into everything he ever does, and if you open your eyes and listen a bit, you can pick up the intimacies of his mind. It just happens...no deep psychological stuff here.

But I suppose what fascinates me about the file directory is that the computer is still treated to some degree as something only technodweebs ever pour their personalities into. Few people think that even the casual computer user is attached to the computer more than he thinks. Some computer fanatics name their computers and get hurt emotionally when their "baby" stops working correctly, but even occasional computer users leave traces of their personality behind. Yeah, we're all geeks. Don't deny your love of the point-and-click-and-tap-the-keys. Live with it.

I'm convinced that if you're having a relationship with someone, whether it's romantic or just friendly, that it may be worth it to check the person's file directory. I'm of course not advocating spying. *cough, cough*

Take me, for example. I'm no deviant. I'm very perfectionistic and my file directory is set up rigidly, as far as where things should go, and flexibly, as far as how easy it is to add more specific directories. I have a well-defined hierarchy of files and directories, mainly dealing with the Internet and archives of textual documents. My homepage directory is split up very clearly, and it shows in the organization of this site. I have a procedure for downloading new software and installing it, then deleting setup files and backing up the original .zip files. Sad, eh? But it's representative of my personality. My computer's very streamlined, only containing the stuff I actually use, whether it's system utilities, games, or whatever.

People who are interested in sports will usually have subdirectories somewhere containing images of their favorite sports figures or articles from past newspapers. Programmers have whole enshrined directories to each of their language compilers. Semi-computer illiterate people have "Untitled" directories and files scattered throughout their computers and their directories have over-specific names. (no, I'm not referring to you, Dad *ahem*) It's interesting to see how a part of someone's life ends up as a part of that person's hard drive.

Other peoples' personalities shine through just as well. People who don't care for organization will just let files sift into wherever they end up. Hey, whatever lets them read their e-mail and play solitaire. No problem with that. They might even have one large directory where everything goes. Drivers, e-mails, whatever. Heck, it's kind of fun to sort through that 50MB directory looking for the haikus about Spam.

But like I said earlier, examining others' file directories might be useful not only for your own knowledge, but for your safety. It should be adopted as a new technique for analysis in criminal profiling. I'm just opining here, but if you see the PSYCHO_BUTCHER_KNIFE_SERIAL_KILLER directory directly above the WINDOWS directory, you might want to consider finding another woman. If you see a whole directory named after the alt.binaries.erotica.* newsgroups, you might want to spread the news about your exploration of your professor's computer. And for God's sake (!), if you see a directory devoted to Louis Farrakhan or the movie "The Net", notify the police.

Take some time out and examine your file directory. See what you can pull from it. Use it in the future. Try to find your personality showing up in other parts of your life. It's kind of interesting, especially if you're avoiding studying for an astronomy test.

Extra points given to X-Files, Rollins Band, and Coca-Cola directories.


 
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