Saturday, October 10, 2009

The End of The Aughties

There are 72 days left in the Aughties, y'know the current decade: 2000 - 2009. I was looking back at the decade, and what are its most important events. Here's my little list:

9/11 -- This is obvious. September 11, 2001 is clearly one of the most pivotal days in the history of the United States. In the previous century, there are probably only a couple of comparable events: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, V-E day, the moon landing, the JFK assassination. For several generations of Americans, 9/11 will be the most historical day of their life.

The Election of Barack Obama -- President Obama's election was historical in so many ways. Obviously it was historic that an African American was elected President. It also marked a transition to a new generation -- Obama is 15 years younger than Bush or Clinton (and let's not even mention McCain.) Obama is not only a Democrat, but is not from the more conservative, Southern Democrats of Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Social Media -- Here's where maybe my perspective is skewed by living in Silicon Valley. Social media is not a single event, in fact it is a progression of events. To me, it really started with blogging and YouTube, and then exploded with MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. It is a fundamental change in the Internet. Every user is a creator of content, as well as a consumer. It is the great democratizing effect of the Internet, and it is only getting started. Even now we are starting to see how businesses, celebrities, etc. realize that not only can they use social media as a channel to customers and fans, but that it is a two-way channel.

Hurricane Katrina -- What made Hurricane Katrina so pivotal is that opened the eyes of Americans. It made people realize that many of their fellow Americans live in awful conditions. The divide between socioeconomic classes in America were never so obvious as during Katrina. When Kanye West went on TV and said that George Bush didn't care about black people, he wasn't just being a jackass, he was stating a sentiment shared by a lot of people.

The iPhone -- What did I say earlier about having a Silicon Valley perspective? Anyways... The iPhone has completely changed so many things for so many people. In the 90's, The Internet changed people's lives by bringing them information. Now the iPhone lets them carry it around in their pocket. Other phones were certainly moving in that direction, but the iPhone broke through by combining a large display with highly usable touch based interface. This revolution continued with the release of the App Store. Now don't get me wrong. A lot of other phones are following suit -- but that's exactly why the iPhone was so historical.

That's my short list. I know it's obviously biased from me being American and living in Silicon Valley. What did I miss? What doesn't belong?


GSW said...

I think you need to include the fiscal collapse of 2007-2009. While the effects of this event have yet to play out fully, I'd wager that we are going to be dealing with it, and policies that are intended to address and/or prevent another one for decades to come.

I'm not sold on the iPhone yet.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I really debated the most recent boom/bust cycle. It really affected a lot of people, in more ways than you might think. I think it was the first boom where the median American was able to grow money on trees. You could buy a house that you could not afford. Then you could cash out equity every 3-6 months and just continuously get money for nothing. The consequence of this is that the inevitable bust has really hit a lot of people. Still, it seems like we shall "pay it forward" once again, and create an even bigger bust in the future.

For the iPhone, think of it like this... The Prius has been a very successful hybrid, but is still a relatively niche car. But just imagine if you went to New York, L.A., and Chicago, and every weekday commuter into those cities was driving a Prius. Further, imagine that the commuters in just those three cities abandoned buses and trains into those cities, and instead went out and bought a Prius. Now overall, the Prius would probably still trail a lot of other makes. If you got outside those three major cities, people would scratch their heads and wonder why people were fussing about the Prius. But among auto-makers, there would be a sea change, and eventually we'd all be driving cars inspired by the Prius. And we'd use a lot less gas :-)

Given my profession, I sit in a pretty good spot to observe the Internet equivalent of the daily commuters into NYC, LA, and Chicago. That's why the iPhone has been so shocking to me, and why I think its long term effects will be even more remarkable.

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