Tech Trends to Watch for in 2012
Amy Webb, head of Webbmedia Group, shared her thoughts on what will be 2012′s biggest tech trends with the Nieman Journalism Lab. From women in tech to better content curation and the privacy concerns that come along with advances in technology and information use, 2012 is bound to be a big year. We’ve shared some of Webb’s trends below, but encourage you to check out her full list “Big data, mobile payments, and identity authentication will be big in 2012”.
Aggregation (even personalized aggregation) no longer solves our information overload problem. In 2010, we saw the debut of Flipboard and the reintroduction of Pulse, which are dynamic content curation apps. Now we’re seeing topic-focused dynamic curation and recommendation built into apps and websites. Some of the players in this space include Scoop.it, Twylah and Storyful. At the end of 2011, Google launched a Flipboard-like topics aggregator, Currents. (It had been code-named Propeller during development.) As much as some news organizations may grumble that basic topics pages don’t drive traffic or serve the user, these newer, dynamically-organized pages that include curation have been tremendously successful. Grouping people and companies together is a great way to keep information organized, and fluid topic pages that continually update help consumers make sense of all the information that’s available. Expect to see a lot of dynamic topic pages — even if they’re called something else — in 2012.
The tech world may seem largely dominated by men, but a cadre of smart, creative women have been hard at work — and often hardly-noticed — leading product development, tech innovation and startups. Groups such as TEDxWomen and advocates like Change the Ratio are working to highlight both successes and inequalities. In 2012, we expect to see more woman receive funding, speaking at conferences, interviewed by mainstream media, judging awards and getting recognition for their many contributions in tech and beyond.
Ethics Concerns and Digital Content
In 2011, there were numerous high-profile ethics questions at major tech/journalism companies. Tech blogger Michael Arrington launched a $20 million venture capital fund that would invest in many of the companies covered by his publication, TechCrunch. Microblogging platform Tumblr, which is used by many in the fashion industry, made news when it sent 16 bloggers to Fashion Week shows at their hosts’ expense. Tumblr was charging brands as much as $350,000 for private events with bloggers, and in return, brands would receive guaranteed product placement within blog posts. The What’s Trending web series on CBSNews.com posted a tweet that Steve Jobs had died (well in advance of his actual death), and then issued a snarky response: “Apologies — reports of Steve Job’s [sic] death completely unconfirmed. Live on.” As the media landscape continues to evolve, newsrooms, developers, marketing and sales departments and content producers of all stripes will need to question their activities and discuss what’s appropriate and why. In 2012, will transparency be the new objectivity?
Digital Identity Authentication
When Google launched its new social network Plus, it made headlines for requiring users to create accounts with their real names and identities. At the time, Google argued that people behave better when they use their real names — it even went so far as to call Plus not a social network, but a digital identity service. Some are now questioning how and when Google would be using our digital identities. Outside of social media, police departments in the U.S. have started using MORIS, which snaps on to an iPhone and enables officers to scan the irises of alleged criminals. In Brazil, police offers are starting to fit glasses with biometric cameras which can scan 46,000 data points on a face and query a criminal database in real-time. Siri, an application acquired by Apple for the iPhone, can recognize individual voices and infer contextual information based on the user. In 2012, our fingerprints may not matter nearly as much as our eyes, face and usernames.
Image credit m_bartosch.