“Remember filing cabinets? Those lumbering, clattering towers of drawers stuffed full of Pendaflex folders? They were once vital to every workplace, as much a part of the landscape as desks and chairs.”
Designer Brad Taunt imagines a web with less design. It sounds lovely.
Files not meant to see
Surely [digital filing] is more organized. Surely it is more efficient and secure. Surely it is cleaner and more environmentally friendly (especially if we ignore the power required to keep the servers running). On these unearthly planes, it’s harder for people to accidentally stumble across something they weren’t meant to see (darn); no forgotten documents peek out mischievously from a manila folder begging to be read (ooh). No longer does the simple act of rifling turn up something damning or private; it now requires special I.T. skills to sneak such files open.
Yet not being able to find these things — whether we were meant to or not — also means we’ve lost something too.
The internet sucks
The internet sucks because people keep pretending that it's a vital utility that supports all government, industry and commerce instead of a place to make silly jokes and argue and make web pages about things you like. The internet was a nice little house party with you and two dozen friends and cool acquaintances. The air and the vibes had that quality to it that anything could happen. An orgy. An indie film. Getting hammered and doing insane stunts. Something magical. And then government agents busted in and jumped up on the tables demanding people use coasters and kept changing the playlist under gunpoint and media companies flooded it with shills trying to get people to try their products or sign up for horrible subscriptions and take pictures of everyone all the time. And then they started bussing everyone's parents in. And grandparents. And your boss. And then they locked the doors. That's the internet.
Amateur research librarians
[...] Myspace. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest, of all things. Today these social publishing tools are beginning to buck reverse chronological sort; they’re introducing algorithm sort, to surface content not by time posted but by popularity, or expected interactions, based on individual and group history. There is even less control than ever before.
There are no more amateur research librarians.