Experienced users might be surprised: nowadays it is totally possible to use a computer device and have no clue whatsoever about files and folders. While the file/folder paradigm is still foundational within computers, it is increasingly buried under layers of smart interfaces: search boxes, automatically curated collection, phone manager apps, etc.
Everything is easier and faster now, great – until Spotlight can't find a dissertation file that was right under your nose. What was it called? No idea, the app didn't ask for a filename… But it's not just a matter of efficiency. Navigating and rearranging the file/folder structure is also a way to develop, and therefore possess, the organizational knowledge of one's own data archive.
In 2015, researcher and media artist Dave Young wrote an essay entitled "Know Your Filesystem (And How It Affects You)". He argued that "the ‘traditional’ filesystem interface, familiar to us as a visually traversable hierarchical structure of files and folders, is replaced by an app-centric interface."
Half a decade later the issue has become urgent again and it is time for a retrospective evaluation. In the fourth and last episode of The User Condition, PDF-hoarders Dave Young and Silvio Lorusso will look back at this interface parable and try to understand where are we now. Did app-centricity actually become hegemonic? What did we lose in the meantime? What have we gained? How helpful is the "helpful framework" of smart interfaces? How purist should you be when it comes to file management?
David Young is a Lecturer in Digital Media Culture and Technology at Royal Holloway, where he teaches software art, data visualisation, and the history and theory of computational media and free/open source culture. His teaching is organised around exploring how a creative and experimental approach to programming can be integrated within theoretical inquiries into the politics of software. His research focuses on archiving media technologies, histories of computing, and the politics and cultures of defence research in the US during the Cold War. He completed a PhD at the Centre for Critical Theory, University of Nottingham in 2021. His doctoral research studied the institutional discourses of US Air Force command and control systems through an analysis of bureaucratic 'grey' media gathered through archival research, specifically analysing how ‘human operators’ were understood in relation to machines. https://dvyng.com/
Silvio Lorusso is a writer, artist and designer based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In 2018 he published his first book entitled Entreprecariat. He is an assistant professor and vice-director of the Centre for Other Worlds at the Lusófona University in Lisbon. Lorusso holds a Ph.D. in Design Sciences from the Iuav University of Venice. https://silviolorusso.com
Photo: Unpacking my Library, Silvio Lorusso, 2016. Commissioned by Alessandro Ludovico and Unfold (Sara Giannini).
Date: Saturday, 18th of December 2021
Time: 18:00h - 19:00h CET
Location: Online (https://stream.vvvvvvaria.org)
This event is made possible with the kind support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.