Tomorrow’s Users: a Response to « File Not Found »
With age comes wisdom…and a lot of outdated tech. We laugh (sometimes bitterly) at YouTube videos titled “Kids React to Old Computers!” and “Teens React to Palm Pilots!” which, if you’re unfamiliar, come from a series of videos from the REACT YouTube channel that features Kids and Teens being shown technology that is no longer used and that they probably haven’t come across before, at least not in person.
An article written by Monica Chin for The Verge in September of 2021 titled “File Not Found” highlights a piece of software technology that has quietly gone obsolete, at least in the minds of Gen Zers: the very concept of file folders and directories.
Gen Zers are roughly grouped as those born in 1996 and later. This phenomenon was first noticed by college professors of STEM classes in 2017, when the oldest of Gen Zers were about 21 years old. The opening of the article explains the situation clearly:
Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist, started seeing the problem in 2017. She was teaching an engineering course, and her students were using simulation software to model turbines for jet engines. She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.
Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved — they didn’t understand the question.
Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.
This isn’t an isolated incident. The article goes on to give a myriad of examples of professors running into this problem with their STEM students and, as readers, we can reasonably jump to the conclusion that if this is happening with Gen Z STEM students, it’s happening at a larger scale with Gen Z individuals in general.
These students will soon graduate and enter the workforce. Many of them already have. What does that mean for the future of education, and by association, business? Peter Plavchan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, gives us a hint:
“This is not gonna go away,” he says. “You’re not gonna go back to the way things were. You have to accept it. The sooner that you accept that things change, the better.”
File Not Found gives decision makers a welcomed heads up; it is not enough to simply digitize your documents, they must be findable, and a growing number of folks entering the workforce cannot find them the way Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and most Millennials can.
Do not despair! With Therefore™, finding documents faster is just the tip of the iceberg. Using Therefore™ to store documents makes finding them as intuitive as using your preferred online search engine, a task every generation has been able to get a firm grasp on. Each document is tagged with Index Data (also known as Meta Data) which tells the software key pieces of information about each individual document, making it a cinch to locate.
With Therefore™, you can rest assured that your company will have the most essential tool to compete with the highest performers of your industry: a sophisticated information management system.
Don’t wait until it’s too late! Therefore™ makes it easy to locate documents…and so much more.
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