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Gen Z Kids Apparently Don’t Understand How File Systems Work

byDan Robitzski
Sep 24
Futurism

"They see it like one bucket, and everything's in the bucket."

Giant Bucket

Over the past few years, many professors have noticed an alarming trend among their students. Overall, members of Gen Z, even those studying technical scientific fields, seem to have a total misunderstanding of computer storage, The Verge reports, and many fail to conceptualize the concept of directories and folders filled with digital files.

“The most intuitive thing would be the laundry basket where you have everything kind of together, and you’re just kind of pulling out what you need at any given time,” Princeton University senior Joshua Drossman told The Verge.

Treasure Hunting

The Verge suggests that the decreased importance of physical filing cabinets may have certainly played a part, but that the rise of search engines and search functions are probably the true culprit. Younger generations grew up in a place where any website, folder, or file can be readily found by typing keywords or part of the title into Google or any other search bar. That realization, academics told The Verge, has them teaching computer fundamentals to their students alongside their usual technical fields.

“I grew up when you had to have a file; you had to save it; you had to know where it was saved. There was no search function,” Borough of Manhattan Community College astronomy professor Saavik Ford told The Verge. “[Now] there’s not a conception that there’s a place where files live. They just search for it and bring it up.”

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It’s as if students “have a laundry basket full of laundry” Ford added, “and they have a robot who will fetch them every piece of clothing they want on demand.”

That realization, academics told The Verge, has them teaching computer fundamentals to their students alongside their usual technical fields.

“These are smart kids,” Ford said. “They’re doing astrophysics. They get stuff. But they were not getting this.”

READ MORE: Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever [The Verge]

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