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Films rarely depict computing accurately – largely because, let’s face it, sitting in front of a terminal hacking away is hardly the most exciting thing to watch. Back in Jurassic Park, when Lex was trying to hack into the computer system to get the power back online, she used a 3D file manager. Lots of people liked to cite this as a great example of how Hollywood just ‘didn’t get’ computers.
What most people fail to realise is that FSN, the File System Navigator, was an demo system tool from Silicon Graphics IRIX. You use to be able to download it direct from the (now sadly defunct) Serious Fun freeware pages on the Silicon Graphics website. Hey, this is Silicon Graphics we’re talking about – who else would make a 3D file browser in with their OS?
Gerhard Lenerz has some more information and some good screen grabs on his site at http://sgistuff.g-lenerz.de/movies/jpark.php – I can recommend a good browse on there as he has some great SGI resources.
FSV, the File System Visualiser, is a re-creation of FSN for UNIX systems that have OpenGL. I can recommend grabbing it and having a play – it works under OS X for some truly silly fun.
Film appearances aside, FSN was an interesting approach to deal with ‘information overload’ and to use powerful computer graphics to provide a simpler interface to something complex (in this case, the IRIX filesystem).