It is amazing how meager the progress has been to leverage the human sense of 3D orientation for IT applications. Already this old article (PDF from 2000) by D. J. Modjeska “found the map-view superior to the 3D-view”, and this has not changed yet.
(I found the paper by following a Google search that brought me a visitor to my #100, and its section 2 gave me an interesting overview about many structures some of which were new to me, such as “pre-tree” and “multi-tree”.)
On the other hand, 3D sense of orientation is extremely powerful in the physical world, as is shown in this account of a filer who becomes a piler when it comes to collections of papers and equipment. I think that wide physical movements and rotations of one’s head and body are much easier to be remembered than the tiny fine-motorical mouse moves in our 19 inch 2D world.
How could I leverage this physical orientation? Perhaps I should try and connect the paper world and the virtual folders’ world more tightly. Once I associate a computer folder with a certain paper folder in my racks and boards, this might help to better distinguish the countless yellow folders in my windows explorer view, and if I more often stand up and “explore” paper collections again this might be good as well (at least for the circulation.)
I do have computer representations of some of my major racks (just empty folders with a special icon and labelled with the physical folders’ inscriptions) but the problem is that my paper repository is increasingly savaged since I am often too impatient to print something out before I skim it, and so my office is really considerably paperless. Often it is not the important things that I have on paper but just what has incidentally been printed.
Perhaps I should intentionally print major milestones just to put them as landmarks into various physical corners, and hope that from then on I will better associate a topic with a physical corner. Probably this is not the best procedure for very fluid topics. But perhaps it will help for the categories that are easily to be confused?