Files, Files, Files

Sometimes it feels like the world is a small place, and sometimes it feels like we live in different universes. Sometimes it might just mean that most people really don’t know what they’re even talking about.

It is good that you first read or skim the article linked in the tweet if you have not. It won’t make a lot of sense until you do. In short, it’s about how college professors are now unable to explain to freshmen students on how to open files, because a lot of younger folks never really had to learn it.

This is the kind of content that is perfect for trolling, personally, because some people feel strongly about tree-based filesystem designs, for reasons that has to do with a serious answer I’ll provide to why it’s even happening in the first place. But that’s like having emotional attachment to, say, a mesh based gutter guard versus a flow based gutter guard just because at some point you had to hire someone to put it up on your house. It makes sense if you are also a gutter technician or a home improvement pro of some kind, but random professors who are just trying to get spreadsheets opened?

So yes, I think it’s because software tools have changed over the decades, and middle and high school curriculums have also changed to keep up. Thus tossing the filesystem out. In my experience you learn this kind of “hard” UX experiences in school–along with QWERTY typing and using a spreadsheet. Blaming it on new tech advances is fine too, but that’s like complaining about Java garbage collection taking away programmers who are skilled in indexing memory manually. Not having to manually assign memory has its pros that translate to, well, now most things are done this way for various reasons.

It’s just to say some college professors are still running C on their grey matter and are now complaining about node.js running somewhere else. Do you, too, prefer to allocate memory manually? In short, this is the “we don’t care about punch cards anymore” argument.

There is another take. The file system tree and concept of files and folders, or that I may have 100s of icons on my desktop, are what forms the basis of etiquette, but they aren’t actual etiquette. You can complain about my work desk being a mess, but who cares if my Desktop folder has so many things in it? The whole notion of data and files in folders is, at some level, a thing in computer science and engineering, about an abstract concept on how to index data. How is this at all a concern about what people know? Are you suppose to be upset if people don’t analyze their tables in Oracle DB? No? Maybe you should join these boomers and ensure the fastest performance? LOL.

Which is just to say this is perfect trolling fodder–mostly white, out of touch old people complaining about kids for no reason? Sure, complain about how Apple and Google made us dumb. Because it’s at least something that boomers can do that we don’t have to worry about.

PS. This confluence of boomers realizing what has been happening to children is probably equally eloquently put by this series of insurance commercials. Same energy, basically.