I'm looking for examples of existing solutions of the following interface problem. The interface must have a table, list, thumbnail view or such of items, which depending on the example could be files, images, audio, tweets, calendar appointments, todos... any kind of data really.
The user can then "open" any number of items for viewing the details, comparing and/or editing the data. The detailed view must not cover or overlap the rest of the data, since the user will want to open multiple detailed views at the same time.
This could of course be implemented as a standard windowing system, with a new window for each opened item, but I'm looking for something that provides a more elegant layout for this particular problem. Ideas for ways to navigate such an interface, ideas for layouts, how to show the connection between the items in the table and the "opened" items.