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A story so horrific I am forcing you all to share my pain. I expressed disbelief, but teacher friends on Twitter confirmed it is indeed A Thing.

Students These Days don't understand directory structure, like literally the concept of files organized in folders, reports Monica Chin for Verge: theverge.com/22684730/students 🐘

@nev what the actual heck. O_O like, my father doesn’t either, but he’s in his mid-60s and never did much with computers except look up stuff on the internet.

but also, this seems a direct continuation from that one time, in a computer science related uni lecture where 2/3s of the audience had never seen the insides of a computer.

@gekitsu I was gonna say "in otherwise computer-literate people..." but then considered we may need to raise the bar for what's considered computer literacy

@nev yeah, or at least just rip the bandaid off and go through with that distinction between driver and mechanic types of competences that were somewhat blending into each other with computers for us.

@nev
It's definitely a thing. A number of my younger colleagues are the same way. Personally, I'm more interested in seeing where this leads. Whether they conform to the established structure or come up with something new, I'll still be eating popcorn and watching.

@conceitedjerk I'm curious how they would design a operating system now

@nev
So am I. I personally can't see how it'd work without a proper dir structure...

@nev @conceitedjerk in 5 years the skills are re-learned or it all collapses and those of us who survive will be free

@nev @conceitedjerk ...i just saw zens' reply and my above toot is still true, it just doesn't mean what i meant it to mean

@nev I swear by my directory structure but this seems like it could lead to positive developments, like better system-wide searching.

@nev this is not a new thing. user research going back to the 1980s shows that most people do not understand heirarchical filesystems and cannot be made to understand them. being able to use them well or even like them is and always has been a rare condition.

i think it’s a good thing. forcing people to organise objects that are not inherently heirarchical into heirarchies kinda does some damage to their soul i think. tags, search indexing, and spatial organisation is way more humane.

@zens I would love to learn more about this research!

@nev mostly done by don norman, and larry tesler. i’ve read about the research, and my damned lack of note taking skills and discomfort with retrieving academic papers has meant I am bot easily able to give you citations

@nev but I always reccomend my old and new testament bibles:

The Human Interface by Jef Raskin
(fire, brimstone, divine jelousy and wrath)
The Design of everyday things by Don Norman
(a set of nuanced principles to live one’s life by)

@nev i also have a thread on my old account where I’ve summarised what I personally learned from those books and supplemented it with whatever other UX wisdom I come across

https://mastodon.social/@zensaiyuki/102683452946911475

@liamvhogan @nev i spelled one wrong; it’s The Humane Interface by jef raskin, with an E on the end. oops

@nev This makes me feel extra old because I can remember learning how hierarchical file systems worked, and it was several years after I'd started using computers (they were pre-PC home computers with no storage to speak of but still)

@mikelynch @nev @zens perversely, even the filing cabinet metaphor fails because filing cabinets are indexed but not hierarchical

@nev yeah that tracks, I started college in 2017 and am similar. I do have some folders and like know where things generally are, but they're pretty broad folders. Like for my classwork I just had a folder in documents labelled Freshman Year, then Sophomore Year. Then I organized things by classes later on, but there's still not much hierarchy in my folders

It's just like they're all in documents and then one sub folder, idk how I would do all the relationships otherwise

@nev on the one hand i'm horrified, but on the other, i think this is hardly new. 90s kids will remember the horror of trying to help an older relative with a computer task and seeing a desktop congested with hundreds of disorganized files. i am not one to tell someone how to use their computer, but the understanding gap for me is like... even if you can search for things, the idea of putting different things in different buckets is still useful

@wolfteeth that's what I thought, like, it seems natural to me to put all my videos in one folder and my text files in another and so on. But on second thought it is already really easy to sort/filter by file type and there's no real reason you *have* to put different file types in different folders.

When it comes to apps and config files, that's where I think folders are really useful.

@nev oh yeah, and for files related to a specific project or something like that, folders are a good solution. i find them most useful for images tho, like i have personal photos and my art and other people's art and cool stuff i downloaded, and the searchability is close to zero

@nev More and more convinced only millenials and gen x actually know how to use computers.

@nev @Ormur That tells something about IT education in high schools.

@nev They are not lying! DO YOU HEAR ME? They are NOT LYING!

Yours faithfully,

A college lecturer

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