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"The Decade Tech Lost Its Way"

Al Kossow

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Title of a New York Times business special section

I was trying to think of anything technically exciting about the 2010's, and I couldn't think of anything.
 

Chuck(G)

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Welcome to the world of consumer appliances. :)

It had to happen sooner or later. There's a modicum of interest in quantum computing, but even that isn't strictly 2010s.
 

Trixter

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I was trying to think of anything technically exciting about the 2010's, and I couldn't think of anything.

The kind of imaging tech (both hardware and software) available to consumers was extremely exciting in the past decade. For less than $500 you can shoot 4k60 content, something unthinkable in 2010 at that price point.
 

Al Kossow

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Thought some more about this, and I had forgotten about the huge improvement in hobbyist tools this decade, the proliferation of FPGA designs, cheap Chinese test equipment and pcb fabs, KICAD, MFM disk emulators.
A decade ago, I wouldn't have been able to afford a 16-channel 10MHz analog data acquisition system with 100gb of SDRAM which let me digitize mag tape.
 

NeXT

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3D printing for that matter. Ten years ago it was still a mix of ultra-expensive resin and powder printing machines for prototypes with the first of the ABS/PLA filament systems coming online in hobbyist hands through a LOT of hacking and still rather low resolution and slow speeds. Same with laser cutters. You can now buy a 4' x 4' bed with a CO2 laser tube for under $6000. The arduino and its IDE have SIGNIFICANTLY improved the learning curve for learning microcontrollers. When I was still in highschool your options was the PIC16....or the BASIC stamp.

For consumers I've been amazed how far Virtual Reality has gone since the kickstarter for the Oculus Rift. I can't even recall any products from the 2000's that attracted anywhere near as much momentum. Now mind you many of these projects are now splintering off as the meddling persists (facebook's purchase Oculus and more recently their requirement to have a facebook account to access portions of the product) but there is still plenty of momentum that is allowing the popularity to continue as the price continues to fall for what was formerly $1500 base price for the hardware.
 

Trixter

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But how is this significant? It's a refinement, but I'm not sure that the consumer market was really pining for it.

It's changed the way we produce and consume moving images. Prior to 2010, cell phone video wasn't really viable. The quality we carry around with us can now capture any event in reference quality (whether or not that content is viewable outside of an oppressive government's network is another topic). Even car dash cams have caught some amazing stuff, like the multiple angles of the Chelyabinsk meteor exploding.
 

Chuck(G)

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For some perhaps. I'm not one of those who spends my waking hours watching bad phone videos on TBD or YT.

Wrong age I guess. I prefer to listen to the TV rather than waste resources watching it.
 

commodorejohn

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It's interesting...I'd definitely concur with the assessment that most of what's happened in the tech world over the last decade has mostly been progressive refinement of existing ideas and technologies, and a lot of it isn't all that exciting to me personally. At the same time, though, I do think it's a good point that progressive refinement has made some interesting tools much more accessible to ordinary people, which dovetails neatly with what I think the really encouraging and exciting development this decade has been. For the last half of the 2000s and the first few years of the 2010s, it was really looking like the all-industry push to make technology (and computers specifically) into a consumption-only delivery channel for corporate mass media was almost unstoppable, and worse, nobody seemed to have any interest in stopping it.

I remember having conversations with folks every time some rag would publish the latest prediction on "the death of the PC" and them arguing to me that nobody needed computers for anything more than passive media consumption and facebooking anymore, so obviously people would just ditch them entirely for locked-down devices like tablets and smartphones, and that viewpoint being treated as gospel. Now, ten years after the introduction of the iPad, not only are PCs not gone, not only are people digging back into hardware hacking for all sorts of hobbyist applications, even Apple has finally had to concede and offer a way to install custom software on their fondleslabs. (Of course, you have to buy a Mac for the privilege, but even so...it was practically unthinkable for years.) And the pushback against social media and data mining in the last three or four years has been equally heartening. The battle's not over yet, but it's encouraging as hell that we even got this far, considering where things were at ten years ago.
 

NeXT

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What was technically exciting about the 2000s or the 2010s ?

It was also the point where a lot of competing standards either merged or one side gave up. Look at the modern smartphone and how many separate applications were formerly individual pieces of hardware.
 

Unknown_K

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Phones used to be just phones and then texting came about and these days calling people isn't as important as having your whole texting life , picture video and music library, internet, and personal assistant in one convenient package.

Social media isn't going anywhere because so much of it is part of the younger generations DNA and because the platform is free for the user (which is the product with corporations being the end user). You can see a big difference in how old farts like us use or not use social media and how younger people are hooked to it from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. If anything being glued to it and interfacing with the world through it is pretty much making them slaves to it.

I don't know if tech lost its way or if it is just industry consolidation and offshoring that just doesn't allow real innovation or the number of people to participate in it (hardware not software). The best and the brightest used to go work for NASA, defense, or tech manufacturing now they go work for Wallstreet or Google.
 

Chuck(G)

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I think technical innovations come in several stages; roughly:

1. Announcement and tinkering by the very interested
2. Use by the technically savvy.
3. Adoption by the general public.
4. Corrosion by the opportunists and criminals

I believe that we've reached stage 4 with social media and we're rapidly getting to (4) with web browsing. We're approaching (4) with IoT.
 

Chuck(G)

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Anent Next Great Things, I note that iPods and MP3 players seem to be last week's milk now. Chinese recyclers are selling 4th gen iPods for somewhere around a buck apiece in bulk lots.

For me, the 2000's announced the propagation of 1000+ page basic hardware manual for microcontrollers. I'm not talking about tutorials; just something that describes the basic hardware--I don't think that it even includes an instruction set description or sample code. Even though I've been writing for some of them for years, I'll dig out a new tidbit, such as the STM32 MCUs having an MMU and supervisor mode that nobody seems to talk about.
 

pcdosretro

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I think technical innovations come in several stages; roughly:

1. Announcement and tinkering by the very interested
2. Use by the technically savvy.
3. Adoption by the general public.
4. Corrosion by the opportunists and criminals

I believe that we've reached stage 4 with social media and we're rapidly getting to (4) with web browsing. We're approaching (4) with IoT.

That's an interesting breakdown. Certainly stage 2 is where the most innovation happens. Unfortunately while stage 3 leads to profits, it also causes a dumbing down of technology for the masses and the profit motive ultimately leads to stage 4. The profit motive also leads to other bad things like outsourcing of jobs and rapid release schedules which result in low quality buggy products.

I would say we reached stage 4 with web browsing long ago. I haven't used a web browser without some form of ad blocking (usually multiple layers) in many years.
 

Chuck(G)

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True, but the web is turning into clickbait sites. It's getting more frustrating by the day.

I needed to search for a rather obscure bit of information on a device. Imagine my delight when a search pulled up 300 clearly relevant sites. I had no idea that so many people were interested. Turns out there are honeypots that take the text from several technical sites, mash them into a phrase salad and then hide them behind tracking sites or malware front ends. The kicker is that the text gets permuted somewhat between those sites, so Google doesn't see them as duplicates.

I didn't get a single useful hit out of that lot of 300 or so. My best guess that the text was grabbed from old forum correspondence.
 

pcdosretro

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True, but the web is turning into clickbait sites. It's getting more frustrating by the day.

I needed to search for a rather obscure bit of information on a device. Imagine my delight when a search pulled up 300 clearly relevant sites. I had no idea that so many people were interested. Turns out there are honeypots that take the text from several technical sites, mash them into a phrase salad and then hide them behind tracking sites or malware front ends. The kicker is that the text gets permuted somewhat between those sites, so Google doesn't see them as duplicates.

I didn't get a single useful hit out of that lot of 300 or so. My best guess that the text was grabbed from old forum correspondence.

I don't get the purpose of those annoying sites. They provide absolutely no value to anyone. Of course Google doesn't care to weed them out, they abdicated any pretense of their bogus "Don't be evil" moral high ground when they bought Doubleclick, a company whose sole purpose is to serve up unwanted content for profit.
 

NeXT

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I don't get the purpose of those annoying sites. They provide absolutely no value to anyone. Of course Google doesn't care to weed them out, they abdicated any pretense of their bogus "Don't be evil" moral high ground when they bought Doubleclick, a company whose sole purpose is to serve up unwanted content for profit.

Ad revenue per clicks and page views. Advertisers pay more when the view counts are high, even if they don't all equate to sales for them (though metadata and mined cookie data alone can be a valueable advertising asset as it's mainly grey-area data that can be sold separately to other marketing groups, including google who can profit off bogus search links as the data can be sold back to them) Sure we hated popups and banner ads in the early 2000's when they were honestly still pretty benign but these days most websites and online operations see ad revenue as bank priority. As long as people even glance through it's money in the jar and how advertising on the internet works has changed a lot in 20 years.

This is why so many websites now get pissy if they detect an ad blocker, of not prevent you from viewing the site at all.
 
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pcdosretro

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Ad revenue per clicks and page views. Advertisers pay more when the view counts are high, even if they don't all equate to sales for them (though metadata and mined cookie data alone can be a valueable advertising asset as it's mainly grey-area data that can be sold separately to other marketing groups, including google who can profit off bogus search links as the data can be sold back to them) Sure we hated popups and banner ads in the early 2000's when they were honestly still pretty benign but these days most websites and online operations see ad revenue as bank priority. As long as people even glance through it's money in the jar and how advertising on the internet works has changed a lot in 20 years.

This is why so many websites now get pissy if they detect an ad blocker, of not prevent you from viewing the site at all.

I just see a bunch randomly culled text on those sites since my ad blocking works well. I honestly don't remember the last time I actually saw an ad on the web. I also get rid of unwanted cookies any other crap like DOM storage often so the greedy advertisers likely aren't getting anything from me.
 
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