Computer Files Are Going Extinct | OneZero

Source: Computer Files Are Going Extinct | OneZero, by Simon Pitt

I like being able to look at and access my files. But now the systems I use try to stop me from doing so. “No,” they say, “access them through these bespoke, proprietary interfaces.” I just want my file browser back, but now I’m not allowed it. It’s a relic of an earlier era.

Years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies. … The unit of creation has moved from the file to the database entry.

In some ways, that doesn’t make a huge difference. The data is the same, just stored in a database rather than an HTML document. The URL could even be the same, just behind the scenes it fetches the content from a different type of data store. But the implications are much bigger. The content is dependent on a whole heap of infrastructure, rather than being able to stand on its own.

I miss the universality of files. The fact they can work anywhere, be moved around easily. The file has been replaced with the platform, the service, the ecosystem.