Country singer Barbara Mandrell may have been country back when country wasn’t cool, but I come from the command line era and that’s only cool as a badge from yesteryear. No, not DOS. Not even MS-DOS. CP/M was the name of the game back in the day.
Back in the last century point and click was a technique that was not applied to early personal computers. To get things done we had to use the command line interface and that was true even when consolidation came around a decade before the turn of the century. What’s going on today? It’s better. And worse.
Consolidation vs. Fragmentation
The early days of the personal computer industry saw a variety of manufacturers, often with their own version of DOS or CP/M; operating systems that ran only on those machines and were not interchangeable with others. Consolidation was an invention born of necessity and with MS-DOS 5.x, Microsoft began to move PC makers into lockstep. The Mac was the outlier then, and remains less of an outlier today.
Consolidating to a specific standard was and is good for the industry. We can tolerate Windows and macOS, Linux and Chromebook (and various flavors of Unix); different strokes for different folks. But standardization helped the personal computer industry grow out of its geeky, nerdy roots and into the mainstream.
Today, even with a handful of different operating systems, files we use and exchange regularly– DOC, JPG, PNG, movies, etc– work on multiple systems with ease. macOS peacefully co-exists with Windows and Linux. iOS exists and prospers well agains the Android OS hegemony. The public internet has helped to push us toward a unified platform where many devices can connect to one another. What you see on Microsoft Edge on a Windows 10 PC looks much like the same website on Safari on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
We have managed to consolidate at specific levels to help the technology industry prosper.
What about Fragmentation?
Unfortunately, we live in a society in dire need of de-fragging, and it has mostly to do with content and how we communicate. I grew up in the era of over-the-air antennas for television, and listened to a handful of radio stations, and read a handful of newspapers and magazines. Those days are gone. Today we are inundated with content sources to a degree where we cannot gain full and accurate understanding of what we read, see, and hear. More people watch YouTube than network television. More people read Facebook than books.
Society is crumbling under the weight of fragmentation at every corner, and too many of humankind has not be trained or educated on how to handle the growing onslaught of information and connectivity options. Our devices give us dozens of ways to text, instant message, chat, and talk face to face or voice to voice. We can hang out at a growing number of social networks, mostly filled with information we don’t need, and populated by scurrilous characters we would not befriend in person.
As much as we thought the information superhighway would turn the earth into a village, it has, instead, turned the village into flames caused by villagers with torches.
I don’t have an answer for what is overtaking humanity these days other than to say, as the old knight guarding the holy grail did in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.