People of my generation (the author is in the late afternoon of his twenties) don’t get it. What we don’t get is how relatively new and modern personal computing technology is. We don’t realize that we were one of the first generations to have computers in our classrooms when we started kindergarten, one of the first to have internet access in our libraries, and one of the first to have networked computer interaction as a fundamental part of our lives from a young age. We don’t understand why other generations don’t find computing as intuitive as we do.
Learning to use computers effectively is a process of repetition, immersion, and is ideally started early in life, just like learning a new language. I think there is both a challenge and an opportunity – for all generations – in the generational computing gap. The younger folks who can find ways to tailor their products and services towards usability, approachability and friendliness can often make big strides in taking new technologies mainstream. Boomers and older have tremendous opportunities to separate themselves from their peers and their competitors by balancing a willingness to be open minded about embracing technology with a keen eye towards results.
In this spirit I would like to talk about a basic computing concept: file extensions. First, what is a computer file? (more…)