Curtain falling on 'Digital Decade'

December 27, 2009 by Chris Lefkow
Apple's iPod Touch. David Pogue, personal technology columnist for The New York Times, points to Apple's iPod, introduced in 2001, as among the most influential devices of the decade.

While it got off to a rocky start with the overhyped Y2K bug and dotcom bubble, the era dubbed the "Digital Decade" by Microsoft's Bill Gates has turned out to be a dizzying period of innovation.

"It's been an amazingly vibrant decade for the Internet and for digital things in general," said John Abell, New York bureau chief of Wired magazine, which has chronicled the technological leaps and bounds of the past 10 years.

"People simply don't exist in a non-digital world at all," Abell told AFP. "Even grandmothers and Luddites all have tools and devices -- even if they don't realize they're using them -- which connect them to a digital world."

David Pogue, personal technology columnist for The New York Times, points to Apple's iPod, introduced in 2001, as among the most influential devices of the decade.

"It really revolutionized the way music is distributed and marketed," said Pogue, who also casts a vote for the Flip pocket camcorder from Pure Digital Technologies.

"In two years it has taken over one-third of the camcorder market and has killed the sales of tape camcorders," Pogue told AFP.

Pogue also gives a nod to the GPS navigational unit "which changes the way we drive and also has environmental considerations because millions of people spend less time driving around lost."

Touchscreen smartphones such as Apple's iPhone featuring thousands of applications are also high on Pogue's list.

"It's become a tiny pocket computer in a size and shape that no computer's ever been before -- and mobile and connected to the Internet all the time," said Pogue. "That's a revolutionary set of circumstances."

What's more, he added, "It's only two years old. The iPhone came out two years ago.

"Imagine what the and the Android phones and the Palm phones are going to look like in five years? They're going to be smaller, thinner, much better , many more features, much faster."

"Right now we're looking at the Stone Age of these phones," Pogue said. "We think they're modern but they're not."

Another groundbreaking device high on the lists of technology analysts is Amazon's Kindle electronic reader, which made its appearance in 2007 and has spawned a host of rivals jostling for a share of the digital book market.

The past decade has, of course, also seen seismic shifts in the Web with the explosive growth of social networking sites, wireless connectivity and the rise of Internet-based cloud computing.

Web search and advertising giant Google has become "central to our lives," said Wired's Abell, branching out into "everything you can think of, from mail to documents to the telephone."

In the late 1990s, Pogue said, "creating a webpage took skill, talent, special software -- it was still only for the geeks."

The Internet has become accessible to all in the years since, giving birth to sites such as Wikipedia in 2001, MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006.

"The beauty of Web 2.0 websites is that it makes it very easy," said Pogue. "Anybody can immediately just type, just type to present their point of view without having any special talent except having an opinion.

"What it does that's really amazing is it connects people who have similar interests, even very narrow interests, who would never meet each other," he said. "They would never be able to connect any other way."

Much of what has come to pass over the past 10 years was presaged by Gates when he gazed into a crystal ball in an October 2001 essay titled "Moving Into the Digital Decade."

"Wherever you are, you'll have the power to control who can contact you or access your information to live your life as openly or as privately as you wish," Gates wrote.

As for what the next decade holds, Pogue is not going there. "Anyone who tries to predict the future of technology usually looks like an idiot," he said.

Unless you're .

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2.7 / 5 (3) Dec 27, 2009
As for what the next decade holds, Pogue is not going there. "Anyone who tries to predict the future of technology usually looks like an idiot," he said.
Unless you're Bill Gates.
Let's see:
I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time.
Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time.
4 / 5 (3) Dec 27, 2009
Anyone who states the Y2K bug as being overhyped probably knows very little about programming and shouldn't be commenting on it. It's a testament to the hard work of IT professionals everywhere that made the Y2K bug a non-event.
5 / 5 (3) Dec 27, 2009
And the curtain goes up for the DNA Decade!
The decade that will bring cheap DNA tests, personalized medicine, a cure for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer and Parkinson's disease. The decade in which we learn to grow meat and even our own complex organs from stem cells! The decade in which control over our bodies will grow significantly.
Let's just hope that control will be used in a good way and not in a way to suppress people. Gaining knowledge is a beautiful thing, but politicians often misuse it. The Digital Decade has brought us some great gadgets, but has also taken away our privacy...
not rated yet Dec 27, 2009
Thank you, Nederluv. I believe everything you wrote is exactly spot-on!
4 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2009
What a moronic writer. The author praises Billie Gates for predicting the digital decade, ignoring the fact that Billie missed the Internet boat in his fiasco book titled "The Road Ahead". Such fiasco was re-edited by Billie when he realized that the Internet was much bigger than Microsoft itself, which he realized just weeks after his book was published. Billie is a fantastic businessman, not a visionary like Steve Jobs whom by the way initiated the PC revolution, the GUI revolution, the iPod revolution, and now the smartphone revolution. This author should really learn first to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Moreover, Balrog1's comment reinforces my notion of this writer and his article. Physorg, pls check for quality on your postings.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 28, 2009
I think the point the author was trying to make is that we live at an incredible time. Ten years ago, I most likely wouldn't be typing this on this website for everyone to read. This is truly amazing. A few years ago I have joined a car website and have been able to fix my car myself for the past three years, everything from oil changes to engine rebuilds, thanks to people on the internet that I have never seen and will never meet, and would have never met if not for the internet! This is truly amazing. We take it for granted, but things like the iphone were stuff of science fiction ten years ago. It's staggering to think that many of us will live to 2050 and beyond. Nobody can accurately predict what technology we will have then! We'll look back at our iphones and "slow" internet speeds and laugh at how primitive they were, just like we point laugh at 56k and DOS today.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2009
The next decade will see the rise of 3D object printing and the extension of digital information into production by them. Imagine what will happen to the Chinese economy if everyone can make most plastic cast objects directly from online stores with their own printer at home!
5 / 5 (1) Dec 29, 2009

"Wherever you are, you'll have the power to control who can contact you or access your information to live your life as openly or as privately as you wish," Gates wrote.

Well Bill, why is it that I can't control the spam in my Hotmail inbox? Didn't forsee that did you?

Dec 29, 2009
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