25 votes

File not found: A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans

41 comments

  1. [15]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    To an extent this seems like a manufactured story. The idea that the children are unable to grasp at the idea of organizing things, as in if things do not ever get organized within their lives, is...

    To an extent this seems like a manufactured story. The idea that the children are unable to grasp at the idea of organizing things, as in if things do not ever get organized within their lives, is kind of absurd. Yes, they may not understand that file structure resembles a filing cabinet - I can understand never having seen one in their life. But to assume that they never sort anything in their lives? Certainly they have sorted items to recycle them? Putting clothes away in a dresser or closet? Papers that they have for classes? Items in their bag or backpack or desk at home? It seems a bit far fetched to me to make such a claim.

    However, the idea of digital natives adapting to the tools of the time is certainly something to consider. Much as I grew up aware of but never having to actually interact with a dot matrix machine, and most of our parents probably grew up not learning how to care for a horse or another form of older transportation, as technology evolves and becomes simpler, people learn to adapt to the skills they need and rely on others for the skills they do not have. This is nothing new and should be both expected and celebrated. Their proficiency with modern interactions will allow them to intuitively pick up modern applications in many cases faster than their older peers and push the envelope of progression in ways suited to them. We should celebrate these differences as a strength to have. Much as their professors can help them understand that which they did not grow up natively with, they can help us understand how the world is evolving and the native interactions they are used to.

    21 votes
    1. [10]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      I'm not even so sure about this to be honest. I've seen a lot of people my age (early 20s) use their phones and computers and be completely incompetent at using any other program outside of the...

      Their proficiency with modern interactions will allow them to intuitively pick up modern applications in many cases faster than their older peers and push the envelope of progression in ways suited to them.

      I'm not even so sure about this to be honest. I've seen a lot of people my age (early 20s) use their phones and computers and be completely incompetent at using any other program outside of the scope of their few applications. Even worse, they seem to be unable to learn to use new programs or are not willing to understand how things work. Maybe my view on this is biased as someone with a CS degree, but I find the essential skill of just googling something to be lost on a lot of young people.

      14 votes
      1. [7]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        Every generation has it's tech saavy folks and those who are not. I can say the same about plenty of my peers. Perhaps you are asking the wrong group of people or are subject to some sort of...

        Every generation has it's tech saavy folks and those who are not. I can say the same about plenty of my peers. Perhaps you are asking the wrong group of people or are subject to some sort of sampling bias?

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Generational gaps explain a lot, for computing specifically. Geeting deep into computers before they became user-friendly and/or search engines were good meant that even most basic usage required...

          Generational gaps explain a lot, for computing specifically. Geeting deep into computers before they became user-friendly and/or search engines were good meant that even most basic usage required a fair bit of troubleshooting. And since personal computers were rare prior to 1990 and had boomed in usage during that decade, that's the sweet spot that manufactured a huge bump in the computer literate.

          After that, hardware, software, and UI had improved to the point where deeper knowledge wasn't really needed to do anything anymore.

          There will always be a standard deviation bell curve of literacy, but I'd wager that the one for those born between 1980 and 1990 tracks a fair bit higher than those before or since.

          If your first Windows was 7 or newer, you have no idea how hard things used to be. Only 1 BSOD daily was a very good week. And I hope you saved all your driver floppies and backed them up.

          13 votes
          1. vektor
            Link Parent
            I'd even go a bit further than 1990, but that depends very much on when in life you learned your computer skills. In my peer group in school (so even before filtering into CS), having your own...

            I'd even go a bit further than 1990, but that depends very much on when in life you learned your computer skills. In my peer group in school (so even before filtering into CS), having your own desktop computer was common, and that was in the Win XP era. I remember everyone chatting via ICQ in the afternoons in 2007/8/9 or so. We were in our early teens then, and a good few of us were tinkering around a fair bit with our computers. You want to have a LAN party, you gotta know how to set up a network using a switch and a few ethernet cables. So, born in the mid 90s, still in your sweet spot. If I had only gotten interested in tech by the time I was 16, I wouldn't have learned nearly as much and probably wouldn't have gone into CS.

            Now, I'm not entirely sure I agree with the overall point of "young'uns these days just don't get tech". But I believe that the barrier for entry into tech has indeed had a sweet spot as you describe. Nowadays, everyone uses this stuff, but you can hardly learn what's going on under the hood. Before, there just weren't enough computers and using them was too complicated for most people to make them want to grok it all.

            8 votes
        2. [3]
          xstresedg
          Link Parent
          The biggest issue that I've come to learn about people is that at a certain age, they hate learning new things and new things make them angry, frustrated, or disappointed. They don't take the time...

          The biggest issue that I've come to learn about people is that at a certain age, they hate learning new things and new things make them angry, frustrated, or disappointed. They don't take the time to learn, even those who are more tech savvy.

          A friend of mine hates Snapchat with a passion. He thinks it's stupid, saying something akin to "why don't the kids just text like regular people". It's the same thing that people said about text messaging and instant messaging until it was just the norm.

          I think that some people when they get older just don't want to learn new things. Older can simply mean post-adolescence, too. Even the most progressive/liberal person likely still has close-minded views. I'm sure I even do, but I do my best to keep my mind open, even if it means prying that bitch open and dumping the knowledge in. I'll abuse me as I wish lol

          EDIT: and when I say progressive/liberal, I'm not trying to bring the actual politics into the discussion. I'm just using that as an example since those folks tend to have a more open mind to things, from my point of view and experience. BUT, they also have a closed-mind to other things that they disagree with, even if they don't understand the thing they are closing themselves off from. It's just human nature, methinks.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            monarda
            Link Parent
            My husband and I were just discussing this. We're in our 50s. There are certain things as I get older, I don't see the benefit to hassle ration of learning certain things being worth it. I still...

            My husband and I were just discussing this. We're in our 50s. There are certain things as I get older, I don't see the benefit to hassle ration of learning certain things being worth it. I still am more than happy to learn new things, but there are far more things that I just can't be bothered with. My husband was a life long freebsd user, and then moved to linux, and finally just got sick of having to fiddle with so many things and now happily uses windows for everything except his servers. For myself, I'm sick of every microsoft upgrade making more and more things harder to find. I don't want to spend an hour on the internet looking up how to do something that I used to be able to just do. I get tired of new interfaces, new buttons, missing buttons, different menus, software as a freaking subscription, curating online spaces - it's all tiring, and I no longer care to be good at it.

            4 votes
            1. xstresedg
              Link Parent
              I can understand this. I think in the case of Windows, they have this constant drive to change everything even if the thing worked fine before. It's this modern mentality that everything must...

              I can understand this. I think in the case of Windows, they have this constant drive to change everything even if the thing worked fine before. It's this modern mentality that everything must change drastically from its last iteration, and that is something I don't understand, but I try my best to do so. My thoughts are the idea of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

              I've no issue with updating the visuals, but when you have Settings and the Control Panel for Windows 10, they're both available, and they are not set up the same at all. So, as long as Control Panel exists, I won't take the time to learn Settings, as I just don't need to. Either update it so that Settings is the sole place to make those changes, or merge the two together, essentially modernizing the Control Panel.

              That being said, I wouldn't equate new technology or services with an existing technology/service/platform that changes. Learning new services or technologies that become commonplace and nigh-mandatory makes sense. Having to adapt to a lateral change of an existing technology is stupid and unneeded, UNLESS it can legitimately make the technology easier to use. Settings isn't any easier to use than the Control Panel, in my opinion, so that change seems silly.

              4 votes
      2. nukeman
        Link Parent
        From reading r/professors, many of their students are not good once they go beyond Google Docs and the various apps.

        From reading r/professors, many of their students are not good once they go beyond Google Docs and the various apps.

        7 votes
      3. post_below
        Link Parent
        This isn't generational, it's just people. Every generation has a relatively small (but not tiny!) percentage of people that retain the combination of genuine curiousity and the drive to figure...

        This isn't generational, it's just people. Every generation has a relatively small (but not tiny!) percentage of people that retain the combination of genuine curiousity and the drive to figure things out on their own past childhood.

        It can be frustrating, but it leaves a lot of space for the curious.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      I don't think the issue is that the concept of hierarchical organization escapes students, or young people in general. The issue is that—much like command line computer interfaces in the 90s—the...

      I don't think the issue is that the concept of hierarchical organization escapes students, or young people in general. The issue is that—much like command line computer interfaces in the 90s—the file system has been de-emphasized or even removed entirely as a contextual mode for human-computer interaction.

      If you grew up on ChromeOS and all you ever use are Google Drive and other web apps, or alternatively iOS/iPadOS, and nobody ever exposed you to Windows Explorer or the macOS Finder or any other spatial file system navigator, I can see how you could easily end up being an anecdote in this Verge piece.

      File systems are useful, but just like command line interfaces, they needn't always be exposed to the end-user—especially when it is expected that the user is uninitiated with such an interface. I think especially the paradigmatic shift toward touch controls for many computers (smartphones, tablets, but also kiosks at airports or fast food restaurants etc.) has pushed GUI app developers and UX designers to streamline workflows and take context into account to at least reduce the reliance on file-pickers or save dialogs, if not eliminate them altogether. And, in some cases (the most prominent examples being iOS and gaming consoles), they've relegated file system management and navigation to being totally optional or even inaccessible.

      Adapting to tools is something some people can do quickly, but most users, most of the time, just need some basic computer literacy training. For the general population, I'm not sure how you tackle that other than building it into elementary school curricula. For university students, however, this sort of training should absolutely be built into the curriculum. I know I had to take a basic information studies and computer software training seminar as an undergraduate offered through the university library. I already knew everything, but for some of my peers it was very valuable. And it established a baseline of competency for using the computing resources offered by the library and the commonly accessible computer labs.

      8 votes
      1. Protected
        Link Parent
        I think your answer is the closest here. This is purely an education issue. Filesystems use directories; whether gen Z likes it or not, they exist in their phones, their routers and their smart...

        I think your answer is the closest here. This is purely an education issue. Filesystems use directories; whether gen Z likes it or not, they exist in their phones, their routers and their smart TVs. If gen Z actually needs to engage with them and no one is teaching them the concept, well, they should be. Saying "Oh, well, nothing we can do about it! It's a sign of the times!" seems lazy on the part of the educators. And it shouldn't be the astrophysics teachers teaching this sort of thing; of course they don't know how to explain OS concepts; it's not their area. In my opinion it's a glaring flaw in high school curricula.

        I had extracurricular training like yours in college but it was for GNU and bash. One of the most useful classes I ever had.

        6 votes
    3. [2]
      entangledamplitude
      Link Parent
      It's funny to split hairs on something so trivial as file structure, but I think it's symptomatic of a deeper problem. It’s not just about adapting to the tools of the generation, but the shift...

      It's funny to split hairs on something so trivial as file structure, but I think it's symptomatic of a deeper problem. It’s not just about adapting to the tools of the generation, but the shift from “using a tool” mentality to “being serviced”.

      Between Google Apps and the Apple ecosystem (Windows is also getting there), people are coddled into a kind of "learned helplessness" in problem solving -- where the only response to any problem is to pay a company to make the problem go away, or beg someone for help.

      6 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure if you ment to imply it or not, but I think there's an important distinction to be made between a decline in the ability of people to problem solve in a specific area* vs a decline in...

        people are coddled into a kind of "learned helplessness" in problem solving

        I'm not sure if you ment to imply it or not, but I think there's an important distinction to be made between a decline in the ability of people to problem solve in a specific area* vs a decline in problem solving in general.

        The trend you point out has been happening for centuries. Each generation figures out how to make something better/easier/cheaper, which allows the following generations to ignore how some things work, and instead just make use of the end result. However this frees them to focus on new and totally different problems to solve. And in all generations, there are people who for any number of reasons don't have the time or resources to learn how to problem solve in This Particular Area.

        *There was a good article I read this year about how you can't really teach "problem solving" as a general skill. All problem solving requires at least some level of expertise in a particular topic, and so we should focus on teaching more topics.

        4 votes
  2. [6]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    I was a first-year engineering student in 2017 and the notion that a student didn't know what a file or a directory was is absurd. That is basic information about computers. I'm not even a...

    I was a first-year engineering student in 2017 and the notion that a student didn't know what a file or a directory was is absurd. That is basic information about computers. I'm not even a computer geek (which is why I ultimately switched majors) and this sounds way too silly.

    I swear I've seen so many articles about "Gen Z doesn't know how to do this anymore" and it rings untrue every time. This must be what Millennials felt like every time there was an article written about their generation.

    17 votes
    1. joplin
      Link Parent
      Yep, and for GenX'ers, this was what we went through in the 90s. Tons of stories written by Boomers about how we didn't value homeownership (we did, we just couldn't afford it), didn't value...

      I swear I've seen so many articles about "Gen Z doesn't know how to do this anymore" and it rings untrue every time. This must be what Millennials felt like every time there was an article written about their generation.

      Yep, and for GenX'ers, this was what we went through in the 90s. Tons of stories written by Boomers about how we didn't value homeownership (we did, we just couldn't afford it), didn't value marriage (we did, we just weren't beholden to it if it didn't work out), didn't want kids (most did, but if they couldn't afford a house, affording a child was tricky, too), etc.

      It turns out that generations aren't a real thing. It's something marketers came up with to make their jobs easier. It's supposed to be a statistical model to help you decide what to spend your company's time and money on, but since humans are bad at statistics, it's turned into some sort of immutable truth that defines your personality and, apparently, worth as a human being for a lot of people.

      20 votes
    2. vord
      Link Parent
      Maybe. But I've met several < 22 kids recently, and seen their general social status (cliques they run in, general popularity, etc. And maybe it's just small sample size, but their computer...

      I swear I've seen so many articles about "Gen Z doesn't know how to do this anymore" and it rings untrue every time.

      Maybe. But I've met several < 22 kids recently, and seen their general social status (cliques they run in, general popularity, etc. And maybe it's just small sample size, but their computer literacy begins and ends with consumer usage in a way that the equivelant 27+ crowd did not. My sister, 8 years younger than me sees the same, despite being much closer in age and seeing a wider swath of kids.

      I worked IT helpdesk for awhile. There is a significant drop in ticket submissions from users my age +- 5 years for basic desktop support issues.

      Most of my peer's parents still deride videogames as childish, despite their kids now in their 30s/40s. The changes in culture over the years form these generational gaps.

      Sure, generations as a black and white boundry is dumb, it's a large greyscale.

      But I have relatives in their 60s whom have two houses fully paid off (a normal and a lakeside vacation home), despite having fairly average wages and 2 kids, and don't comprehend how much wealthier that makes them than most of my late 30s peers whom are generally less than 5 years into a mortgage on a first homes that often requires two earners to afford.

      The Boomers I know exude an obliviousness that their children and their parents don't. I suspect it's because their parents and kids dealt with far more economic crisis in their early adult years and relate better on that level.

      12 votes
    3. shx
      Link Parent
      I don't think this problem is quite as severe as the article says, but as someone who also did first year eng in 2017, I definitely wouldn't call the premise absurd. There are a lot of people our...

      I don't think this problem is quite as severe as the article says, but as someone who also did first year eng in 2017, I definitely wouldn't call the premise absurd. There are a lot of people our age who have never needed to interact with filesystems in any detail - from grade five, every public school computer I used (outside of an elective CS class) was a chromebook. Sure, google drive still has files and folders, but it's generally more abstracted to "these are my recently edited google docs". I've met people who aren't comfortable with filepaths or archives, and I'm sure that most of them just grew up on chromebooks and mobile phones.

      Not to say that this is gen Z's fault or anything - we just grew up during the period when companies were aggressively working to abstract away everything but apps and documents.

      8 votes
    4. [2]
      shiruken
      Link Parent
      What if a person has exclusively used Apple mobile devices (iPhone and iPad)? Access to the local file system was only added in the past few years and completely unnecessary to regular use of the...

      What if a person has exclusively used Apple mobile devices (iPhone and iPad)? Access to the local file system was only added in the past few years and completely unnecessary to regular use of the device.

      2 votes
      1. cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        I think if you went to a relatively normal high school, computer labs exist. And often your class is taken there to do assignments, and sometimes you have a class in a computer lab. Heck, even...

        I think if you went to a relatively normal high school, computer labs exist. And often your class is taken there to do assignments, and sometimes you have a class in a computer lab. Heck, even elementary schools have computer labs. I had a computer lab in my dusty ass, broke ass, elementary school.

        So desktops and files and all that should not be a foreign concept. Unless you were home schooled your entire life and your family never had a computer and all you had was an iPad.

        Laptops and desktops are not museum pieces yet, it's not like only a bygone generation uses them.

        10 votes
  3. [3]
    Seven
    Link
    This isn't really a generational thing at all in my experience. Aside from the fact that generations don't really exist (as @joplin mentioned elsewhere in this thread), my dad doesn't have any...

    This isn't really a generational thing at all in my experience. Aside from the fact that generations don't really exist (as @joplin mentioned elsewhere in this thread), my dad doesn't have any idea what folders are or where he can access his files. I just graduated from college, and I personally try to keep my files more organized than the rest of my life. I've always had a messy binder full of papers during high school (I always said that it was organized chronologically by date of last accessed), yet my file system is noticeably more organized. I think that's because I care about my computer feeling like my own. I customize my wallpapers, my taskbar, and my browser. It's important to me, so I organize it. I think that the types of students who don't care about file organization are the same ones who leave the Microsoft Store on their toolbar: their PC isn't a central device to their life, so they don't care enough to customize and organize it.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      mxuribe
      Link Parent
      As i read your statement there, i almost immediately thought of that phrase that many system admins note about treating servers as cattle and not as pets. So, i wonder with younger generations,...

      I think that the types of students who don't care about file organization are the same ones who leave the Microsoft Store on their toolbar: their PC isn't a central device to their life, so they don't care enough to customize and organize it.

      As i read your statement there, i almost immediately thought of that phrase that many system admins note about treating servers as cattle and not as pets. So, i wonder with younger generations, and the vast ubiquity of computing devices (as compared to previous generations), there might be plenty of these young folk who treat most available computing devices as cattle - and hence do not customize things - and of course lack any "customized mental model" of customizing their content structure (which others might call file hierarchy, etc.)...In other words, these young folk might not have had enough scarcity in computing so didn't feel the need to curate their content in the way that previous generations needed to. In a world that might be usable by search, maybe that might be ok, but heaven help them if the world pivots somehow. I watch tv shows like Walking Dead and there are characters who don't survive because they might have lived a life that did not expose them/nor teach them survival skills out in nature...so exaggerated as that connection might be, i figure young folks are not gaining experience to older world skills...and that might be ok if newer worlds don't require those skills...i guess.

      4 votes
      1. soks_n_sandals
        Link Parent
        I will challenge to say that the aesthetics from device-to-device may look uniform, they are often highly personalized. Have you ever tried to use someone else's iPhone/Android, for instance?...

        I will challenge to say that the aesthetics from device-to-device may look uniform, they are often highly personalized. Have you ever tried to use someone else's iPhone/Android, for instance? Sure, the home and lock screens look the same (especially for iPhone), but it's often so personal to the other person that using their device feels totally foreign. I can install backgrounds and themes and icons on my PC all day long, but I haven't really personalized it beyond the aesthetic. Frankly, it serves no functional purpose. And, I think many more stock experiences are pleasant straight from the start, allowing the user to focus on how they interact with their device, and not just what it looks like.

        5 votes
  4. [6]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    I thought this was a really interesting look at how mental models for computer use change over time. When I worked in IT support I could never grok how some users could live out of their desktop...

    I thought this was a really interesting look at how mental models for computer use change over time. When I worked in IT support I could never grok how some users could live out of their desktop and downloads folders, with thousands of unorganised files scattered about without any kind of system.
    For me this shift towards searchable, always online spaces (OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) is a frustrating one. I don't feel like I have the level of control over my data and its folder structure as I would like. It's an old fashioned view to be sure, but I like to know where my files are, and just dumping everything in one place (like these services seem to encourage) to be searched later is irritating. I shouldn't need to remember the name of a file to get to it, if it's organised sensibly enough.

    I've always thought of myself as tech savvy and good with computers, but quite honestly I can see myself becoming quite resistant to this new model and very stuck into my ways over the next few years. On the flip side: folder structure and hierarchy won't just disappear. Programming, sound design, operating systems, scientific research, essentially any work in a digital industry will still require this kind of mental model for a long time.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Maybe this shift started with Gmail. Sure, you can use labels if you like, but you’re encouraged to press the “archive” button when you’re done reading an email and rely on search to find it again...

      Maybe this shift started with Gmail. Sure, you can use labels if you like, but you’re encouraged to press the “archive” button when you’re done reading an email and rely on search to find it again if you ever need it.

      Also, iTunes helped us give managing folders of mp3s and photo apps helped us give managing image files.

      Part of the problem is that we have to deal with so much incoming stuff and so much of it is unimportant. Why maintain your downloads folder?

      Or consider how much effort some of used to put into managing folders of browser bookmarks.

      But I do find it a bit odd not to maintain folders for actual projects, where you did some creative work that you can’t just download again. Maybe these kids never did homework that they actually want to keep?

      5 votes
      1. Tardigrade
        Link Parent
        When your orginaisation Google drive or similar disappeares when you leave that institution and go to the next there's quite a lot of friction to saving anything beyond that and all the crap from...

        Maybe these kids never did homework that they actually want to keep?

        When your orginaisation Google drive or similar disappeares when you leave that institution and go to the next there's quite a lot of friction to saving anything beyond that and all the crap from before goes too.

        4 votes
    2. [3]
      shiruken
      Link Parent
      Will it though? This article seems to suggest otherwise: technology is making manual organization by the user obsolete. Why wouldn't the software used by programmers or scientists or audio...

      On the flip side: folder structure and hierarchy won't just disappear. Programming, sound design, operating systems, scientific research, essentially any work in a digital industry will still require this kind of mental model for a long time.

      Will it though? This article seems to suggest otherwise: technology is making manual organization by the user obsolete. Why wouldn't the software used by programmers or scientists or audio engineers simply adapt to this new reality?

      3 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Programmers usually have to know about files because they implement the new reality, and the fundamentals of how operating systems work change slowly. For example, mobile phones don’t expose file...

        Programmers usually have to know about files because they implement the new reality, and the fundamentals of how operating systems work change slowly. For example, mobile phones don’t expose file systems very much to users, but they definitely have them.

        Also, programmers obsessively organize files in git repositories, and the most common programming languages are file based. I don’t expect that to change quickly.

        However, I do see local checkouts becoming ephemeral, where keeping anything of significance on whatever laptop you happen to be using becomes less and less common. The canonical location of code is in the version control system (GitHub or similar), and anything else is temporary.

        My favorite CAD program (OnShape) stores projects online. It does have projects, documents, folders, and version control, though. The mental model is still needed.

        8 votes
      2. joplin
        Link Parent
        It's not feasible for a computer to internally have a file system with no hierarchy. Doing any sort of sorting or searching would take too long. (Ever run a Unix "find" command on "/" instead of...

        It's not feasible for a computer to internally have a file system with no hierarchy. Doing any sort of sorting or searching would take too long. (Ever run a Unix "find" command on "/" instead of in a directory you intended?) Plus the file systems connected to a computer aren't all on one device or all even on device. You can have multiple hard drives in a machine, plus removable media, plus network drives. There are physical silos between these sorts of things. You could paper over it and present it as one big "soup", but you'd probably still have some sort of hierarchy under the hood because it's so much more efficient. In fact, you can break most modern operating systems by putting thousands and thousands of files in a single directory. It's kind of sad.

        6 votes
  5. [3]
    nothis
    Link
    I once read that, with computer tools getting more sophisticated, today's kids know less and less about how computers actually work despite staring at them 90% of their day. It makes sense. Few...

    I once read that, with computer tools getting more sophisticated, today's kids know less and less about how computers actually work despite staring at them 90% of their day. It makes sense. Few people ever cared about computers, you just needed to understand them because programs were closer to the programmer's environment. Now you no longer need to. The guts no longer leak through a slick smartphone interface and for many uses, that's a good thing. But not for study and certainly not for work.

    This reminds me of how irritating it was when I first used iTunes and it didn't just use folders but kinda sucks in all your MP3s, does god knows what with them and doesn't even tell you where it stores them and in what order. Want to copy them to a new device? Well, that's now how you're supposed to do it! I never got used to it until Spotify (or modern music youtube) arrived and locally stored music files almost disappeared from my life. In a way, it's hard not to consider the iTunes model a failure. Unfortunately, the Mac "Photos" App now starts doing something similar where I have to "export" photos to actually get a JPG I can edit/send/whatever. The Windows 10 photos app stopped storing imported photos in files ordered by months, I have no idea why. It's as if your computer is upset when you actually want access to your shit.

    I'm definitely not ready to romanticize this as a "generational shift" or "moving on". This is in an "unsolved problem" phase, the iTunes-phase, and there's no Spotify that helps you sorting your university data in some cloud-based utopia. On a constructive note, I could imagine a smartly done tagging system with excellent search to be superior to folders. But that's not the reality. The reality is "Instagram doesn't want you to know that you can just store that file locally", which is not an advantage for the user.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      Music.app actually does keep all your music in an organized directory. But, it doesn't want you to mess with that directory structure or change the directory or file names behind its back. It also...

      iTunes Music.app actually does keep all your music in an organized directory. But, it doesn't want you to mess with that directory structure or change the directory or file names behind its back. It also maintains a local database for your local music (which it calls your iTunes Library). You register all your music files by importing them through the app, so it can add them to the database and file them according to its organization scheme itself. These are likely design decisions made to facilitate getting reasonable performance for users who have large local music collections (which was actually very popular before the advent of the current streaming music solutions came on the scene).

      You can consider many modern file systems, at a low level, to act a lot like a database. I'm not an expert, but it seems like over time, file systems have been evolving to be ever more database-like over time. It's really the same motivation for the Photos.app maintaining its own organization of your photos rather than trying to manage whatever ad-hoc organization system any given user might have (or not have). Rather than re-indexing your photos every time you start the app, it keeps the indexes stored in a .photosLibrary bundle. Inside the bundle, the files are actually all there, organized how Apple prefers them. It's fundamentally all abstractions around data and metadata management. While file systems are decent (and solid state storage media make them all that much more performant), you can very quickly arrive at conflicts of interest when the user wants their data organized one way, and the application wants it organized differently.

      2 votes
      1. nothis
        Link Parent
        I realize the files are still there. But I definitely remember a version of iTunes that turned my carefully named MP3s into "vzx794zaco-0xc57iuqwej.aac" files or something like that so you were...

        I realize the files are still there. But I definitely remember a version of iTunes that turned my carefully named MP3s into "vzx794zaco-0xc57iuqwej.aac" files or something like that so you were dependent on its database to make sense of them (rather than using a third party player that has a file browser) and made it absurdly hard to copy them from/to other devices (maybe due to copyright concerns?). It's been many years, I don't remember the details but it definitely was highly annoying and third-party-hostile.

        I also work with third party image browsers for a client (think thousands about thousands of scans of water color and pencil drawings) and I know you can sort that shit in custom folder structures efficiently. At one point, you always arrive at a situation where you actually need a filepath and the hoops a lot of those modern "database-oriented" programs make you jump to get there are not worth whatever "efficiency" they allow.

        Personal scenarios with dealing with parents and relatives in recent months include uploading a scan of a COVID-vaccination certificate to some government's tourism site, sending a full-res version of an image instead of a WhatsApp-compressed one for a a high quality print and deleting like gigabytes worth of "Live Photo" videos that were accidentally turned on in iOS to be stored with every single photo. To be clear: This does not even include professional work, where I have more or less daily examples of this.

        So all I'm saying is that while I recognize the problems it tries to solve (making file management "just work"), it creates so many niche cases of it not working that I'm not ready to classify this as "Gen Z being so over folder structures". I'm happy to move on from folders into something more dynamic, but this is not it. This is just obscuring a problem without solving its causes.

        5 votes
  6. soks_n_sandals
    Link
    It seems like this could easily be a condemnation of the research tools used by these academics. I put forth that "I don't know" is a valid response when asked "Where are the files saved for that...

    It seems like this could easily be a condemnation of the research tools used by these academics. I put forth that "I don't know" is a valid response when asked "Where are the files saved for that Google doc with 12 versions?" One doesn't need to know. Google docs (and Word, etc.) are managing all those versions through a slick interface.

    To that end, I think this is the crux of the story:

    The primary issue is that the code researchers write, run at the command line, needs to be told exactly how to access the files it’s working with — it can’t search for those files on its own.

    Accessing software exclusively through the command line is archaic. I do it daily at work. It can be a very powerful way to access a program, but it's cumbersome and there's a steep learning curve. It's a different type of interaction, and in that way, a different type of computing. This is reinforced when there's no unified design language. Why is file removal with rm -r recursive, but there's mkdir -p to create a recursive (parent) directory? You just have to learn that quirk. A search bar, by contrast, is universal across many more platforms. Learning how to search is far more portable that calling up find to look for your files. Students are doing the efficient thing by learning how to search for things.

    4 votes
  7. [7]
    dredmorbius
    Link
    VoxMedia have a cookie "consent" form with no option to reject cookies. I'm finding that absolutely unacceptable. @deimos is there any prospect for sitewide bans of domains doing this?

    VoxMedia have a cookie "consent" form with no option to reject cookies.

    I'm finding that absolutely unacceptable.

    @deimos is there any prospect for sitewide bans of domains doing this?

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      I disagree with the idea of a sitewide ban for domains like this. Use a cookie manager and delete the cookie or don't visit the website if it bothers you.

      I disagree with the idea of a sitewide ban for domains like this. Use a cookie manager and delete the cookie or don't visit the website if it bothers you.

      20 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        IMO cookie consent banners are useless. They’re not useful until the browser API asks the user to manually confirm all new cookies.

        IMO cookie consent banners are useless. They’re not useful until the browser API asks the user to manually confirm all new cookies.

        5 votes
      2. [2]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        I agree, maybe we should let people ban certain sites themselves if they feel like it but making that tildes policy is definitely a bad thing.

        I agree, maybe we should let people ban certain sites themselves if they feel like it but making that tildes policy is definitely a bad thing.

        2 votes
        1. spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          we already have paywall.soft and paywall.hard tags, perhaps a similar "cookiewall" or "paywall.cookies required" tag?

          we already have paywall.soft and paywall.hard tags, perhaps a similar "cookiewall" or "paywall.cookies required" tag?

          9 votes
    2. Seven
      Link Parent
      A sitewide ban just for a minor privacy violation seems like it's a bit too much. Tildes isn't just for privacy-focused powerusers and we shouldn't treat it like it is.

      A sitewide ban just for a minor privacy violation seems like it's a bit too much. Tildes isn't just for privacy-focused powerusers and we shouldn't treat it like it is.

      8 votes
    3. mxuribe
      Link Parent
      Maybe a ban might be too harsh? Much like some sort of "NSFW" label/tag, perhaps there could be a feature to label/tag a link as being "Privacy invasive"? (Mind you, that label/tag verbiage is not...

      Maybe a ban might be too harsh? Much like some sort of "NSFW" label/tag, perhaps there could be a feature to label/tag a link as being "Privacy invasive"? (Mind you, that label/tag verbiage is not ideal, but something along those lines might help to classify what you are describing with respect to privacy.)

      3 votes