The Aughts: When Geeks Gave Up The Earth

I promised I wouldn't write “yet another” of these 2000-2009  retrospective blog posts – and I'm sticking to that resolution.  I'm not going to mention the usual suspects of Google, the IPhone, Apple or Microsoft.  I'm going to talk about simply one thing.  What really matters.The death of the geek, rise of the nerd, when mom got a cell phone, dad went gaga for the internet and the world went digital.  This is how I would characterize the last 9 years .  Let me tell you why.
     When “The World Wide Web” Became “Everyone's Internet”
When we entered this past decade, the Internet was still referred to as the World Wide Web.  It, and in fact to much extent the computer industry, was still best understood and most utilized by “the Geeks”.  The Geeks in the computer stores, the Geeks online, the Geeks in your IT department.  The population could be segmented into two buckets. Geeks and Everyone Else.  But then something happened.

Technology Went Mainstream. Geeks Went Mainstream.  The Internet Went Mainstream.

For me, the most significant change of the last 9 years is how technology and The Internet has become so integrated into our lives – whether at work, rest or play.  

  • We don't think it's odd if someone says they don't own a land-line.  When someone tells us they don't have a cell phone, we wonder what's wrong with them.  My Mom got a cell phone.  Who knew!? 
  • Being a Gamer moved from being a sterotype of an anti-social nerd, to one where Gaming is now normal.  Everyone games now.  XBox 360, PS3, Wii – It's hard to find a home without at least one of these now! 
  • Many were still hesitant to try and “shop online”.  Now people just do it.  Everyone has an email address now.  The Yellow Pages, for those who still get them, are used as a step stool if at all. 
  • Content went digital.  We own digital music.  We download digital copies of software.  Our photo's are digital.   Our movies and films are digital.  Our libraries and encyclopedias are digital.  Even our books, are now starting to go digital. 
  • Time spent online, on a computer or mobile device exceeded that of television time among the general population.  The impact of this disruptive shift of attention is still being worked through, as Advertisers and Content owners re-invent approaches and themselves.  
Probably one of the most profound changes is what has changed about the personal computer itself.  Outside of the “office”, the computer has really just become a device that gets you connected to the internet.  When the internet goes down, my laptop is generally useless.  I can't get to my mail.  I can't get to my blogs, or social networks.  I can't do my internet banking or technical research.  This is incredible.  Thinking back, there were a lot of things I used to do on my computer in “island mode” that I just don't do anymore.

  • Data management – making sure my Quicken or Microsoft Money were up to date with portfolio and banking information; Now it's all done for me automatically
  • Gaming – I used to do a lot of gaming.  Now not so much…and when I do, I don't PC game anymore.   I've got an XBox 380 and a PS3 at the ready.  
  • Scanning – I used to scan photo's, bills, documents.  Now my photo's are digital, bills are electronic/online and documents…don't have many of those anymore. Certainly aren't scanning them.
  • Programming – well, now I don't program as much, but when I do, doing so “off the grid” is just unfathomable.  Programming tools and resources available online are not “nice to have's”.
The Internet finally became the Information Superhighway.  We're now all plugged in and realizing the benefits and value of social networking when geography and borders are no longer limitations to getting connected.
Thus my thesis statement – The Geeks Gave Up The Earth. If it was ever in their grasp, it has been snatched back by “the people” and for “the people”.  The digital age has arrived.  What will the next decade bring?
Interested in your thoughts, wishes, and even fears.
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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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