My first steps on a computer were characterized by the military discipline of Dos: command lines, folder structures that in some cases were best learned by heart. The mouse you used it only for play Dune II after finding it in the folder right. Today all this would be impossible because it seems that the youngest, after years of smartphones and refinement of research systems, they no longer conceive of computers as archives of files and folders, but as a large bucket from which to take what you need, when you need it.
The most searched word on Bing? It’s Google
by Bruno Ruffilli
The past, thirty years ago
Let’s go back to the early 90s. I came from the Amiga, which at the time had already thought of an operating system with a sort of virtual desk, literally called Workbench, but given the young age I used it basically as a console: put on the record, play Defender of The Crown, remove the disc and change the game. The Dos represented a complete re-education, then continued with the infamous Ms Dos shell, an attempt to make things visually clearer than not many remember.
Obviously Windows 3.1 taking up many insights from System 1 (the Macintosh operating system), was the next step and when it came to Windows 95 and later my mind was already calibrated to use computers as if they were large archives to be searched manually. The images all go to the Pictures folder, the music files to the Music folder, divided by artist and then by album, the documents in their folder, if possible divided by projects and so on.
The approach to the Internet was also characterized by similar thinking: the sites were organized in specific directories where the pages were organized by similar topics, perhaps within a larger portal. You could search, but knowing where to do it helped and everyone had a list of Favorites, in turn categorized by subject. Our conception of data has for years been tied to the fact that they physically resided in a space we needed to find.
But things change and even if the desktop and operating systems have remained more or less the same in all these years, some factors have evolved very quickly: internal search systems have become more and more efficient and the same goes for those online. Furthermore, browsers are much easier to use and no longer require very precise syntax. Mostly, smartphones (and in particular the iPhone) they have become the gateway to most content and, at least initially, you don’t see any folders on the iPhone and even on Android their use is marginal for most people.
The 2000s, today and tomorrow
The end result of this trend is that in recent years the professors of the courses of the matter Voice (What are?) they struggle to interface with students who do not use computers badly, but simply do it in a different way and no longer see computers as archives, but as buckets from which an elaborate search system extracts what is needed. Likewise, Favorites are now a thing of the past, because it is enough to write the name of a site to remember it and we no longer have to enter the exact name with a lot of http suffix.
According to an article by The Verge, this trend started showing up from around 2017 and the dating is not accidental: this period coincides more or less with the arrival in the classrooms of students who have spent most of their school and training life in contact with interfaces in which a research system is always evident and efficient, which has first used the phone of a computer, which makes extensive use of the cloud and which exploits spaces such as TikTok and Instagram, where no hierarchical cataloging takes place.
Today many people just leave the files on the desktop, without caring too much about their storage, and if once we were concerned with looking at where programs and games are installed, today we limit ourselves to using applications like Steam that keep everything under control.
Changes of this kind are part of the process evolution of tools. Today no computer engineer or systems engineer uses the techniques and tools of many years ago anymore, kids don’t have to make a startup disk to start a video game, just as in the 80s you no longer had the knowledge to start a gramophone. A constant process that seems to affect Windows 11 as well, which now places the most used applications in the center of the launch bar. And obviously a search button. The folders also change faces to show us what we need, hiding the actual files.
The car like Netflix: the subscription of Lynk & Co arrives in Italy
by Andrea Nepori
In some ways it’s a little what happened to the cars: once everyone knew how to get their hands on it, today the engines are so complicated and evolved that you don’t go beyond changing the fluids and for the rest you rely on a professional. On the one hand we have more efficient engines, but on the other it means that if something goes wrong it is much more difficult to repair it yourself. Also because we may have forgotten where the file we need is.
Apparently this problem is particularly felt in some Stem subjects, where asking for a program where to look for a file is essential, and for this reason some professors have improvised mathematics teachers for beginners, with sometimes hilarious results. Imagine the dismay of a sixty-year-old on TikTok, but applied to a person who is the same age as Google and does not conceive of computers as someone who used them before his birth.
One thing is certain: this trend will not disappear and on the contrary will become stronger and stronger and will become part of a new generation that will develop its tools and methods to make the most of their experiences. Who knows which computers, and which generational clashes, will await them in 20 years.
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