Wow, Alex is really hitting all the chords here. I love the way he links the decline of file managers as an entry point to our digital lives to the 10000-foot-view of things versus services.
The constraints of mobile, plus a new generation of users that've never really known life without the internet, meant the benefits of skeuomorphism were no longer worth the cost. Ditching it as a philosophy, both in design and in function, freed us to go out and reinvent everything as a service. Abstract everything away into databases, links and logic, and provide it as a consumer service with all the topology and complexity hidden out of sight.
He then goes on to point out the downside of our current 'everything is a service'-model:
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.
Last month's shutdown of Yahoo Groups (Yahoo is winding down its Yahoo Groups site after 18 years of running. As of October 28, users will no longer be able to post new content to the site, and on December 14 Yahoo will permanently delete all previously posted content) is once again a reminder that everything we don't (physically) own can be taken away by the real owners at any time. (via @justmarkup)