Years ago I set up an email account for my son using Gmail, periodically forwarding things I thought he might find interesting. One day I was with him at his PC and asked if he’d seen something from me. He said he hadn’t and opened his mail. He had dozens of emails, many of them marketing. I asked him why he didn’t delete some of the obvious marketing ones that he didn’t care about. He pointed to the sidebar, where the usage of his account was listed. It showed a few percent of the 10GB he was assigned in use. He said if the usage got too high, he would. For now, he would rely on search to find things.
That was fascinating to me. I’d grown up with limited space, used folders for organization, and pruned out anything old or useless. It was an eye-opening conversation to me on the difference in how generations looked at computing. That same thing is happening on a larger scale. As this piece shows, newer generations are approaching the way they use computers in a completely new way. They don’t even necessarily know how to find items on their computer by browsing, which is strange for older users. It’s a trend that vendors embrace. In Windows, Microsoft surfaces “Documents”, “Pictures”, “Music”, etc., and I find many people have no idea where those folders actually are in the file system.
I used to worry that we were losing skills that were needed. However, now I’m not so sure. The scale of items we might save has grown. In many ways, why would we care where they are on a system. Really, we need a way to access them, and linkages, search, and other techniques might be better than relying on our memories of how we’ve filed things. As I think about it, many of the problems of deploying software over the years have been because of incorrect paths. Why should developers manage that? Why don’t projects and compilers just sort this out for us? How many times have I had to add an entry to my PATH variable? Shouldn’t executable software solve that for me?
Certainly someone needs to care about locations and security and various other details, but for most people using a system, these are unnecessary details. I don’t know “where” stored procedures or functions reside. SQL Server ensures they exist somewhere and the various Object Explorers in tools put them in a place I can find.
I embrace these types of changes and encourage our industry to make installing and using software, as well as the management of files and other items easier and more autonomous.