Trends in Consumer Digital Technology for 2019

For the past few years I’ve got into the habit of start­ing the new year with an arti­cle con­sol­i­dat­ing my thoughts on where we’re at with con­sumer dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy; look­ing at the land­scape, and at what the biggest play­ers are doing—my focus is most­ly on Ama­zon, Apple, Face­book, and Google, but it’s not exclu­sive­ly on them. I want to tease out a few trends to help ori­ent myself in my role for the year ahead. I try not to make pre­dic­tions, but per­haps play out some pos­si­bil­i­ties.

There are two big declines at the core of this year’s trends, which I think set the tone for where con­sumer tech might head in 2019. They are the smart­phone decline, and the Face­book decline.

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The Best Quotes I Read in 2018

I read a lot. For plea­sure, for work, and for my newslet­ter, The Thought­ful Net, which is a lit­tle of both plea­sure and work. As well as books I read a lot of online arti­cles, espe­cial­ly long-form; I save a lot of links to Pock­et, which is synced to my Kobo eRead­er, and then I read on my com­mute to and from work—averaging prob­a­bly five or six arti­cles per day. I share the arti­cles that I like to my col­leagues, on my Twit­ter, and a rare few excep­tion­al ones to my newslet­ter.

What I enjoy very much is to col­lect quotes (or quo­ta­tions, if you’re that type of per­son). A nice turn of phrase or a point that makes me stop and reflect, or think of some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent­ly, always gets saved to my Keep—with the hope that it will one day spark a new line of thought in me, or be added to a pre­sen­ta­tion deck to sup­port my argu­ment.

In this arti­cle I present the quotes I read this year that I felt were worth sav­ing and shar­ing. The quotes aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly from this year (some of them date back to the 19th Cen­tu­ry) but they were new to me. Most of them, in some way, are linked to tech­nol­o­gy, which is both plea­sure and work to me.

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People Don’t Change

I’d like to present a record­ing of my lat­est talk, Peo­ple Don’t Change. It’s about the his­to­ry of mod­ern human behav­iour, and tech­nol­o­gy, and how the meet­ing of those two affects soci­ety today. I pre­sent­ed it at Front End Lon­don in August, and I’m real­ly proud of it because I’ve been think­ing about it for a long time—if you’re inter­est­ed to hear it, the sto­ry of how I wrote it is below the video.

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Why Is Every Company Making a Digital Assistant?

Many of the largest con­sumer dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies have, or are prepar­ing to intro­duce, a dig­i­tal (or, vir­tu­al) assis­tant. The list includes Aliba­ba (Ali­Ge­nie), Ama­zon (Alexa), Apple (Siri), Baidu (DuerOS), Face­book (M/Aloha), Google (Assis­tant), Line (Clo­va), Microsoft (Cor­tana), Sam­sung (Bix­by), Xiao­mi (Xiao Ai), plus any num­ber of less­er-known assis­tants.

Although this is part­ly dri­ven sim­ply by advances in machine learning—digital assis­tants are hap­pen­ing now because they couldn’t hap­pen before—the larg­er rea­son for all the inter­est is because of how con­sumer inter­net tech­nol­o­gy is changing—and how it’s set to change even more in the com­ing years.

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