Friday, January 1, 2010

Editorial: Looking forward to technology of 2010 - The News-Herald Opinion : Breaking news coverage for Northern Ohio

It might be hard to imagine that something like an iPhone — which, as we know it today, puts the ability to book flights, find the nearest coffee shop and manage bank accounts at our fingertips — will be considered antiquated

10 years from now.

But as we head into a new decade and look back at the technological advancements of the last 10 years, that seems virtually certain.

Consider the following, as reported by The Associated Press:

* In 2000, fewer than 10 percent of U.S. household had broadband Internet, according to Forrester Research. In 2008, 61 percent of homes had it.

* In October 2002, the average American spent about 52 hours a month on a home computer, according to the Nielsen Co. In October, the figure was nearly 68 hours a month.

Those changes alone helped pave the way for innovation throughout the 2000s.

Faster Internet connections — which today are commonplace and in many ways expected — helped lead to that increase in time spent on the computer.

From that was borne social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and countless other ways to connect with people during those additional hours online. Also spawned were blogs and sites like YouTube, which have given a platform and voice to people and groups who wouldn't have otherwise had either.

And that's just the software. The same case could be made for hardware, as households with digital cameras jumped from 10 percent in 2000 to 68 percent last year, and those with an MP3 player climbed from less than 2 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2008, according to Forrester.

Over the past few Christmases, how many of us gave as gifts an iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, Playstation, Xbox, Wii, GPS or DVR device, or a high-definition TV or DVD player?

All these things are commonplace today. In the days following the "Y2K" scare, few people even knew they were possible.

That said, there are always concerns around such innovation. Particularly with regard to privacy and identity protection, but also with regard to the way these devices and new technologies impact our relationships with people.

However, we believe that the positives outweigh the negatives. Personal relationships and interactions are still highly valued and as irreplaceable as ever, but these technologies provide us with new ways to appreciate those relationships — or maintain relationships that would otherwise be lost.

After all, how many former high school or college roommates would we be in touch with today if not for the social networking site Facebook? Taken one step further, how many people wouldn't have time to even be on Facebook if not for its availability on their cell phone or mobile device?

The good news is that there's more to come.

Whether it's the emergence of e-readers, the arrival of the long-rumored Apple tablet computer or growth of "digital clouds" of technology, we're excited to see what the next decade of technological innovation brings and how it will change the way we live our lives.

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