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Ask HN: What have been the 2010s about?

Ask HN: What have been the 2010s about?

2023-04-09 08:25:53

I’d say (mass market) social media – that’s basically when Facebook become nearly universal, and replaced a bunch of competing / regional social media networks, and also the rest of FANG becoming massive and dominant.

It’s also when “the internet” and “computers” stopped really being about networking, information processing, getting work done, etc inside some traditional organization, and basically about advertising, marketing, retail.

I think it’s really about mobile computing. While the iPhone debuted in 2007, adoption didn’t really hit a critical mass until the early 2010s with the iPhone 4. That was also the time that Android was ramping up with Verizon’s initial “DROID” campaign. People may have had an iPhone or a Blackberry in the late 2000’s, but they were still doing most of their computing from a desktop. By the end of the 2010’s, desktop computing (for non-professional purposes) had become the exception, not the norm.

And I think that goes hand in hand with how pervasive social media was during that decade. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all installed on millions of personal devices and taking up a lot of attention and focus.

In the context of tech it was a period of stagnation. I’ve been working in the industry since the early nineties. All of the nineties was a period of dizzying acceleration of compute with new possibilities opening up every year. Things slowed down quite a bit after 2001 and went pretty comatose for much of the 2010s. Of course there were constant streams of hype and excitement over not very much. The one transformative technology that emerged during this era is affordable and powerful mobile devices. The rest was pretty middling.

I have high hopes for this decade with the excitement building up around generative AI technologies. My only hope is that the tech can be democratized quickly enough to be accessible to players of all sizes, not just the tech molochs.

The age of easy money – we’re unlikely to ever again see a decade of 0% interest rates and money printing. MMT will be seen as a failed experiment that artificially and temporarily lifted economic well-being during the 2010s at the expense of crushing societal debt that’s coming due in the 2020s and beyond.

Smartphones, social media exposed as what they really are, Google dropping “don’t do evil” and the excesses of companies posing as tech companies, like Airbnb, Uber, WeWork.

The decline of civility, the election of 2016 in the us and similar events in Europe and the decline of the postwar political environment (Brexit, for example).

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I’ll broaden the discussion: 70’s minicomputers, Unix. 80’s microcomputers, Bill’s excellent adventures. 90’s SGI and Sun, Linux, Networks and 3D graphics, workstations.

Or, 70’s diverse musical tastes: prog, pop, punk, disco, …. 80’s metal, 90’s alternative rock. Several were reactions to preceding genres, such as guitars as percussion instruments to almost out of the mix.

Or, 70’s Vietnam ends, proxy wars continue, gas crisis and inflation. 80’s Reagan, us hegemony, small wars w/o proxy, greed is good. 90’s the wall came down, europe ascendant, China enters the world economy big time. Throw in bad hair and a whole lot of polyester.

You’re starting a bit late: the “Tea Party” movement was already doing the lack of civility thing well before Trump. And the “Tea Party” movement was just thinly-veneered racism, prompted by electing Obama. So maybe we could re-write “the decline of civility” as “the re-emergence of racism”.

I was being polite. Trump was the symptom not the disease. The disease has always been present in all societies. It’s merely tolerated or shown more or less over time.

Effective handheld and mobile synthesis of computing and communication in a wireless world. The ‘00s were desktop bound. This continual proximity to ‘network’ was entirely new and has changed society, globally.

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