Actually, the metaphor isn't that accurate. After all, it's not that one stage
of development sits upon a previous stage, but instead that they all seem to reside
together in what might be a sort of post-modernist version of an archeological
find. My hard drive is filled with programs that I haven't used in ages, including
many that not only won't work under my new operating system, but that quite probably
didn't work under the previous operating system.
But it's not only a question of continuing to hold onto old programs and games
that nobody has any interest in any more. There
seems to be some sort of inevitable, or unavoidable, stage of development in our
use of computers which this situation reflects. Back when the most common method
of sharing files was sending disks back and forth via snail mail, the lusting
after new applications that we probably weren't going to use but still wanted
at least to try was an important aspect of the aura of computer use. Most of the
promise of the PC was still primarily uncharted territory, and we were always
on the lookout for new applications. Even though computer programs then were capable
of doing much less than they are today, we seemed to be infused with a feeling
of stretching the limits; there was real excitement in discovering what computers
could do. Every new version of a favorite word processor offered an opportunity
to update and see what new features were available. Admittedly, since we actually
used very few of these feature, this was a blatant case of style over substance,
but even though we probably knew better, we can probably be excused this excess
because of the newness of PC use.
Go to: Tools I've known and loved ... and often abandoned.