We are dooming our own files, part two

Nothing new in this new story. Sadly.

We are dooming our own files, part two /img/files-dead.jpg

“Apparently text search has completely replaced hierarchy among younger people as a means of accessing information and they do not understand the concept of a directory."

This is what @galaxy_map recently tweeted about a Twitter thread by an astronomy professor, whose main parts are synthesized here:

  • we are finding a persistent issue with getting (undergrad, new to research) students to understand that a file/directory structure exists, and how it works. After a debrief meeting today we realized it’s at least partly generational.
  • [the professor suspects that] there are some conceptions that students hold, based on current computer usage, that are impeding students from developing the file/directory mental model… and I am sufficiently old that I cannot even guess how this might work
  • [her] students have a mental model and a bunch of folks have picked up on this–if you try to force in a new model when something is already sitting there, it doesn’t go well.

Nothing new here, isn’t it?

Not for me at least. This whole story is just one more example of the general phenomenon I discussed a couple years ago. Quoting from that post:

  • Services like Google Docs do not let you sort or organize your files [in any way] that is not “prioritize the new over the important”
  • [and all this is bad because] it seems to reduce the value of any individual creative act. Rather than warranting their own file, [your data and creations] are all just lines in a database, somewhere in the sky.

Please do read that whole post, and even more its sources, to get the whole picture. All I have to had right now is:

  1. In and by itself, there is nothing wrong in “having a new model”. After all, that is how progress happens, isn’t it? But when it happens without understanding the existing model, that is without a real clue of how centuries or petabytes of knowledge have been or are still being organized, is not good. It cannot be
  2. This is just one more example of how and why “digital native” is a demographic qualifier that has nothing to do at all with actual competence, or media literacy