2019.12.31

Hoverboards Back To The Future 2

Tonight we say goodbye to the twenty-teens, so I thought I'd recap the most important things.
The List

10. Beersplosion

Sometime in the late 2000s, the yuppies decided that Sam Adams isn't craft beer. They were right. Not only did the craft beer scene change what was in the pint glass, they offered an industrial alternative to the bar scene.

Then everyone was bought out, Green Flash went bankrupt, and wild yeasts became a thing. Hey, we had a good run.


9. VR

Back in the 90s we knew that the future was two things: flying cars and VR. In the 00s, hardware companies tried their best to make an affordable, usable headset, but nothing caught on. Finally, in the 20-teens, as Ready Player One was published and Sword Art Online made its way to the US, the Oculus Rift kickstarter promised that the future was now. After a decade of prototypes, Facebook, HTC, Google, and Sony have all tried to make VR a thing. It's still not a thing. But I'm certain it will be in the '20s.


8. Indie and non-indie gaming

Steam hit the gaming scene a looong time ago - like Half-Life-2-long-ago - before the Internet and hard drives could really support the model. Since then, the CD/DVD/Blu-Ray has died and every major publisher decided it simply *needed* their own platform for content delivery, DRM, and selling cosmetic mods. Steam, Battlenet, Origin, Epic, and the rest really took off around 2012. Now they're the standard, much to the chagrin of the brick-and-mortar.

And this was good, because everyone with a coding hobby could publish a game and we no longer needed to put on pants to purchase the vidya. And this is bad, because microtransactions are here to stay, as are kids that make McLaren money selling Fortnite and CS:GO skins.


7. Memes

The 20-teens saw the explosion of the meme. Memeing is as old as time, but in the 90s and 00s it took on new life with message boards and emails. Throughout this decade the meme evolved to include pictures with text, vidoes, and then just any Internet in-joke. Has memeing reached peak memeness?


6. Solar

Globalization, manufacturing, and tax incentives finally brought solar to the common man in the 20-teens. It was the middle class dream: spend a little bit of money to stop paying energy bills, help solve the climate crisis, and run AC in the house 24/7.

For some, this dream was realized. For others, they were too late to the punch - the utility companies had caught on and restructured payment terms to take as much energy and give back as little money as possible. For everyone else, there were dollar store solar patio lights that only give off light in photoshopped product images.


5. Mobile finally made it

The smartphone was born in the 2000s, but it wasn't until this decade that it became the usable, ubiquitous device we know and loathe. We saw the first non-trash iphone in 2010 and 2012 blessed us with the George Washington of the smartphone revolution - the Galaxy S3. LTE took off in the early 20-teens, making these neat new devices actually mobile. Best of all, Microsoft finally killed Windows 10 Mobile in 2017.

Now everything is made for mobile. You can pay with your phone. You can rent electric scooters with your phone. Web services are pushed to apps that demand your address book and location. And people compulsively check their phone at social events and board game nights.

Progress.


4. E-vehicles

The winding path of electric vehicles finally straightened out this past decade - just a bit anyway. For years it seemed like the dawn of the consumer electric vehicle was being forever delayed by strange forces. The 00s saw the explosion of the hybrid vehicle and introduction of the Tesla Roadster. In 2010, Nissan brought the Leaf compact car to market, beating the Tesla sedan by two years. Over the next 10 years we saw VW and Chevy produce mass market e-vehicles. Now we have queuing apps for workplace charging stations and very angry ev.all emails when someone doesn't move their car on time.

The electric motorcycle was teased at regular intervals throughout the latter half of the 00s. It took upstarts Zero and Brammo to actually bring bikes to market, and the latter was bought and destroyed by Polaris. Here, at the end of the 20-teens, Harley has produced an e-bike and even maintained their characteristic reliability. There are a few high-dollar e-bike options, but the market is still largely unrealized.


3. AI

The popularity of AI research has oscillated over the decades and its marketability has been practically nonexistent. But in 2011, Apple went live with Siri and showed that HAL9000 was finally within reach. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google naturally followed suit, Redmond even blessed us with the legendary Tay bot. The corporate dystopias of 1980s action films - once considered a pipe dream - were finally shown to be possible through the great works of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

Meanwhile shadowy companies like Palantir applied machine learning to post-9/11 data collection to prove that AI could also be used for an Orwellian dystopia.

To complete the trifecta, drone manufacturers and robotics houses like Boston Dynamics reassured the world that a Terminator/Matrix dystopia was not beyond reach.


2. Internet = social media

In 2012 Facebook finally declared it had one billion subscribers. It had acquired its way to juggernaut status, leveraging a base of subscribers that needed to mash F5 on their friends' vacation updates. Mobile and analytics compounded its success. Every new photo, video, classifieds, sharing, or messaging app either was developed with a social media platform or was absorbed into one. The Internet had finally horseshoed back to the AOL days.


1. The post-fact era

People have memed about 2016 being the moment that timelines diverged. It was the turning point that thrust us into a dark melange of House of Cards and Idiocracy. The 20-teens saw Curveball-level realpolitik go full IngSoc with "Truth isn't truth" and "What you're seeing... is not what's happening." It can only get more exciting from here.