Tech strikes back. According to people in Silicon Valley, last year everyone was hating on them. And this year, they're hitting back. If you want to see the first public wave of the offensive, look no further than the renewed Twitter account of Marc Andreessen. He's got an optimistic view of the world, loves quoting stories of success, says people will adapt themselves to technology, and believes in Progress, with a capital P.
He is, in short, a stand-in for Silicon Valley, and willing to stand up for what he believes the Valley has accomplished. For those with a more pessimistic outlook, he'll be a great and fun sparring partner.
But I also think his version of taking to the airwaves is a signal of a broader movement within the Valley to say: Look, this is what we believe, and what we stand for, and love or hate us, we've done X, Y, and Z.
Will the charm and data offensive work? I don't know. But it's worth watching.
Ephemeral everything. For a time, it seemed like the Internet's major sites were all pushing in one direction: more real names, more archiving, more tracking, more accountability. My friend Robin Sloan (who used to work at Twitter) wrote a little code that would go back and delete his tweets after a set period of time, and I remember thinking how retrograde that whole idea was.
Turns out, he was ahead of the curve. The pendulum is swinging back towards pseudoanonymity and ephemerality, thanks to the success of the ephemeral apps, SnapChat and Whisper.
How far can this trend go? And once we start to assume that we have a choice between archiving and not archiving, how many will choose to turn their tweets into whispers?
The other is the idea of building decay into our social media profiles. This happens somewhat naturally thanks to linkrot and Google's preference for new stuff, but what if we got intentional about it. Why doesn't all content have a die-on date?
The non-screen. The screen is eating everything. Glass is everywhere. But there is a widespread sense among tech people that the screen must be augmented, superseded, rethought. You see this in the rush to the 2014 CES buzzword "wearables" and in Google Glass and the push to voice control by the big mobile players and Leap Motion gesture control and augmented-reality toys and in Oculus Rift, the VR helmet, and more speculatively in brain-computer interfaces. I was very excited about this trend last year, but people love their screens. It's like trying to sell Americans on buses and trains. Sure, they don't mind them, but they love their cars. (Despite the individual and societal problems that everyone can see results from driving around so much.)
So, this year, I'm taking a more exploratory approach to this topic. I want to learn more about what people love about screens from a media studies perspective. I want to investigate what screens want. And I want to see many, many more interfaces, even if they are likely to fail before the awesome power of glass.