We (IET) are moving to a posh new building soon so there is some office clearing going on. I was looking at my shelves yesterday and realised that I have about 15 lever arch files which I brought over from the Technology faculty when I joined IET five years ago. I have never opened them. Like many people I just don’t do any paper filing any more. In a technological reversal for me things don’t really exist if I haven’t got an electronic copy. Sending me something on paper is nice, but it’ll only end up in the bin. For instance I booked a hotel in Sydney recently (for a trip in October). I had to do it by phone. I then felt uncomfortable that I didn’t have an electronic confirmation, so emailed them to get one. Booking by phone used to be the norm, but actually feels vague and nebulous now because I can’t save it anywhere.
Anyway, looking at my files I had to smile at one I had started when I joined the OU around 1995. On the spine I had written ‘The Internet’. There, that’s that covered then. On opening it there was lots of papers on how TCP/IP and HTTP actually worked. For some reason this seemed important then. There is probably a term for this progression as technologies become accepted and more robust. When they are new, there is a need to understand the nuts and bolts, partly because the early adopters are interested in how it works, and partly because you have to understand how it works because it goes wrong so often. As it becomes more robust then the level of understanding moves up through layers of abstraction.