Evolution of Change

2 minute read

The tech world has generated a ton of content about WWDC since the Monday. If you want to know what the really smart people are saying about the event I suggest you start by reading Ben Brook’s WWDC: The Big Stuff or simply catch the video highlights of the 117-minute keynote in 8 minutes.

I would like to share my thoughts on iCloud and its implications in context of the evolution of the file system. John Gruber and Dan Benjamin share their thoughts on this topic starting around the 33 minute mark in the latest The Talk Show podcast.

John Gruber:

“It’s not about security, it’s about simplicity.”
“Where is your data for the app? It’s in the app.”

Dan Benjamin:

“It’s the logic way of thinking of doing it.”
“Why does this seems like a novel concept in 2011?”
“What’s the downside?”

Hearing this discussion between John and Dan reminded me about when Aperture first was released…all your photos were in the app. Few embraced this new way of thinking. In fact, many people refused to use Aperture simply on the basis that they thought they were now locked into a product. They feared losing control. They feared change. As an enterprise architect, I too fear vendor lock-in. I think this is partly the reason text editors have recently been the buzz among tech people…using a text editor means that you completely control the data and are not at all tied to a single product. It was the driving factor behind my post, The Text File Revolution.

However, as Dan and John point out, for the masses the file system still is a bit of a mystery. How many of you receive calls or emails from frantic family members that can’t find files that they swear they just saved? My parents do this to me often and they both use computers every day. They certainly aren’t idiots, but at the same time it isn’t easy. Apple was aware of this years ago and I think that’s why they released Aperture in the way they did. Due to end user pressure though, in a follow-up release they provided the option to reference files so people did not have to change their current way of thinking. Nonetheless it planted a seed. Maybe similar to the way the Apple Newton planted a seed for iOS devices.

My Point?

I’m sure someone will prove me wrong, but I believe that revolutionary changes rarely occur without at first someone attempting AND FAILING at the revolutionary change. In the case of the file system I think Aperture may have been that first attempt. Fortunately, Aperture did not fail. Nor did Apple stop coming up with revolutionary ideas to eliminate the need to understand the file system. I, like many others, am excited to see how iCloud will work in the real world. Since it’s Apple I’m betting it will just work.