Goby is a tool for systematically organizing files and ideas. It allows you to model relationships between different items in a collection, and alternate between table and graph representations of the same information. In building Goby I was inspired by “thinking tools” like Are.na and Obsidian, and I combined their best features to create an interface that bolsters individual control and flexibility. Alongside this, I wanted Goby to encourage you to approach projects in a different way, placing emphasis on how the elements of a system “hang together."
So what do you actually do with Goby? As one example, you could use it to tag and categorize artworks by author, format, and other metadata. You could also use it to plan a novel by mapping relationships between all the characters, locations, themes, motifs, and plot-lines. Or more dramatically, it could be used as an enhancement of your computer’s file explorer, letting you organize documents in non-hierarchical groupings. Goby’s architecture is meant to be flexible enough to apply in a wide range of projects and tasks.
My idea for Goby stemmed from a desire to translate concepts from philosophy and programming into a functional interface. I approach design as something interwoven with these two fields, in that they all attempt to structure our knowledge according to rules and patterns—or as Papanek puts it, “the conscious effort to impose meaningful order.” Goby was an experiment in building a completely novel interface that captures this way of engaging with the world.