After looking back on this year in technology I am reminded of an ancient proverb, some say it's an ancient curse, that goes, "May you live in interesting times." Although this may be a curse when your recent mission to space suddenly becomes "interesting" or when your doctor finds something "interesting" in your latest physical, it's certainly not a curse in the year 2005 regarding technology.
This year has seen it's share of "interesting" and this year has seen the release of some paradigm shifting tsunami's of innovation. Below is a list of the top 5 techie-happenings of this year and, unlike other lists, you'll read in the order of most important to least important and effectively get to climax first and read on to the foreplay later...
1. Google (mothafuckin) Earth - earth.Google.com
While 2005 can arguably be coined "The year of Google", one aspect of Google's many services that trumps the rest is known as Google Earth. For those of you who don't know what it is, think of it as a 60's spy plane that mapped the entire world, put it on a 3D model of the globe and made it searchable, and modifiable by anyone on the planet. All that's missing, is a red button linked to Moscow's missle silos. Google earth is so powerful that countries are upset that it gives away national military secrets. If that's not cool then I don't know what is!
Google Earth was voted #1 because no other tech related product will have such profound and long lasting effects as this. Google earth will change the world, oh yes, Google earth will change the world!
2. Podcasting - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting
Podcasting technology isn't as bleeding edge as Google earth but this is the year that the podcast went from the underground techie/blogger scene to the mainstream. Podcasting simply the ability to subscribe to a show on the net (either audio of video) and have your computer download it automatically for playback whenever you want. Think of it like tivo for internet based broadcasts and it rocks because it gives you more power over what you listen to and when. There are many time I would have gone postal in my traffic filled daily commute if I hadn't been listening to This Week in Tech (thisweekintech.com) or the NPR podcasts.
3. Open Source / Social Sharing Sites (www.flikr.com, www.wikipedia.org, www.digg.com)
The third choice for this years techie round-up is the trend of socially based sharing websites. It seems nowadays wherever you go on the web, you see websites that beckon you to add content or contribute your thoughts. It's as if Jesus himself is in everyone of these websites is telling you he personally cares about YOU and YOUR photos and YOUR bookmarks and YOUR life. It's a great feeling, and that probably explains why both Christianity and myspace.com are recording record numbers.
4. Apple's move to Intel based chips - http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/jun/06intel.html
The decision for Apple to move to intel based chips comes as a momentus change in their lineup and has shocked many including my techno-savvy self. But what does this really mean for the end user?
On the positive side of things this means: Macs running windows programs side by side. Running Windows programs with all the security of unix. Faster Mac desktop and faster, more efficient Mac laptops. Cheaper Macs.
On the not-so-positive side of things this means: Application compatibility issues where older Mac programs run slower or run with issues on the new maces similar to older OS9 programs running within OSX. Growing pains and confusion among less savvy end users about what software will run properly on which machine.
While this switch is good in the long run, you won't find me buying any 1st or even 2nd revision intel Mac.
5. Sony Rootkit Fiasco - http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html
Picture going to the local grocery store and buying a bag of groceries that contained a secret bacteria. This bacteria, would follow you home and into your fridge where is spreads infects your entire fridge without your knowledge. Then, this bacteria watches what what you put in and out of your fridge so that it can tell your local grocer store where you're shopping, what you're buying and if you've put any stolen fruit in your fridge. On top of all that, the bacteria is harmful to your fridge and causes it warm up to room temperature at random intervals.
This fanciful image is just what happened this year but Sony is the grocery store, the bacteria is their illegal software, the food is really music and the fridge is your computer.
Get it? Good. Now let's join the class action lawsuit together!