Looking at 2013 and the yearly reviews in the tech press, one would get the impression this past year was a waste of time.
But on Christmas Eve, when my mom created a Facebook account on her iPad (and is now chatting away with friends and family—both near and far), it made me realize one important fact: 2013 wasn’t disappointing at all. We just lost perspective of the greater scheme, the bigger picture, while living in our very own bubble of (frequently over-hyped) tech news.
It’s understandable though; as human beings we want to feel in control. Things like “decades” are frightening when they lie before us, without any clear description of the forthcoming events. So, we break things down in weeks, months and quarters. We create trend reports and predictions in order to make ourselves believe we know what will happen. There are two sides to every coin though. On the positive side, we become inspired and excited, which reduces the fear. However, the negative side is that we as humans are are pretty bad at predicting in general and the inevitable result of disappointment is always brewing.
Sitting back and taking all of this into account, it’s not surprising how easily we’ve become side tracked with these granular (and fleeting) issues rather than the bigger picture.
In 2013, not only did we manage to distribute powerful computers to the mass market, that are no longer heavy gray boxes on our desks, but small and elegant devices we carry anywhere we go. More than anything else, we reached the point of social acceptance of technology that was unforeseeable two or three decades ago when the first personal computer was released. The point where digital devices and services are available, that everyone (from a child to my mom) can, and even more importantly, want to use.
So, maybe 2013 was a disappointment for everyone who was hoping for over-hyped-breakthrough-products coming out in order to secure the next story (that will outdate faster than you could spell the product page URL).
However, when you look at the more grand scale, 2013 was probably one of the most important years since the introduction of the PC—in an infrastructure kind of way. With 77% of the population connected in the developed world in 2013, and smartphones outgrowing PC devices, we are close to a paradigm shift in how we look at and interact with technology. We achieved a mindset shift in the mass market and democratized technology.
There’s still a lot to be done, but now that we’ve reached a social acceptance that goes far beyond the circle of early adopters and nerds we are one big step further towards a digital world. That’s quite an achievement.
Here’s to 2014!