We love services. Services free us to be pure consumers, seeking exactly what we want for as little friction and overhead as possible. So long as everything works
Worlds of scarcity are made out of things. Worlds of abundance are made out of dependencies. That’s the software playbook: find a system made of costly, redundant objects; and rearrange it into a fast, frictionless system made of logical dependencies. The delta in performance is irresistible, and dependencies are a compelling building block: they seem like just a piece of logic, with no cost and no friction. But they absolutely have a cost: the cost is complexity, outsourced agency, and brittleness. The cost of ownership is up front and visible; the cost of access is back-dated and hidden.
Files feel like a good bellwether for what’s happening. We’re in this funny in-between time right now where our phones are fully in the future: apps are services kind of by definition, and it’s really hard to access the file system. But our computers are still kind of in the past: to me, at least, the two most important navigational anchors on my computer are the desktop and the downloads folder.
One of the funny outcomes of this half-mobile half-desktop world is where our de facto file system remerged. In absence of a coherent, logical file system across these two worlds, we trampled down a desire path and made our own: our email inboxes. I (and many of you, I’m sure) use my email inbox the way we’re all supposed to use Dropbox: it’s a ubiquitous, universally understood way to move stuff around, store and retrieve it. Gmail is the new Finder.
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