Hey David, Happy New Year! Wanted to follow up on my twitter reply, as I think you are both right and wrong in this post and claim. The stuff of the teens is maybe less immediately apparent, but that seems to me very much because many are happening on top of ” the platform for change.” But also because – once you have the internet, you don’t then need to invent it again. And also, some of this previous stuff was enabled by Moore’s law, which while AFAIK hasn’t “changed” per se, once we hit certain points, the benefits of which flowed more into the pockets of capital than into end users hands (e.g. why do phones still cost what they do when much of the underlying technology has gotten cheaper and cheaper.)
So the one I shouted out on twitter was various “sharing” platforms (ride, house) like Uber and AirBnB. These (and their ilk, the very trope of “Uber for _blank_” speaks to how widely they are spreading) are a perfect example of this, and it makes sense – the 90’s were the decade of “government funded networks opening to ISPs and the initial gold rush but mostly still early adopters”; the 00’s were the decade of “everything is free, mostly because we want to create incumbency but don’t know exactly what to do with it yet and here come the masses” and the teens have been where those incumbents then flex, extract their rents, and enable others to do so as well. For better or worse (and often times it does seem VERY much worse) these network-mediated marketplaces ARE having a massive impact. If the current crop of examples disturb (which often they should) I’d point ot Car Co-ops – sure some existed prior to teens, but the advent of network technology to this space has caused an explosion in the urban center’s I am near (and some related decline in car ownership.)
I would add to this – behavioural science and big data and apps – all three have very much come to the fore in the last decade and turned our devices from being portals for self-enhancement into screens for self-enslavement. Sure there are still people doing UX and “information architecture”, but the idea that those are the ones dictating how and why things get designed or what gets put in front of us in anything but the smallest websites is laughable. And were this not the case – why is digital detox such a roaring phenom unless they are having some success tapping into our biochemical reward networks?
Netflix – sure it was around mailing DVDs, but its streaming business was created in 2010 and has ABSOLUTELY impacted both individual viewing habits and the media ecosystem.
Drones – sure, there were hand controlled aircraft previously, but the advent of micro-controlled drones has expanded hugely. This is actually one place where governments seemed to have reacted a little less sluggishly to regular, maybe because of the dire consequences involving commercial airspace. But in a number of different fields (forestry, farming, policing) that do impact you, just maybe not as immediately as an MP3 player.
Arduino and Rasperry Pi – ok, so invented in the 00’s but I’d argue really didn’t find there legs until the 10s, and these have spurred on a ton of innovation, some of which likely does impact you (have you played with any of the Arduino or similar-based synths?)
Square and the like payment systems – could be argued that similar existed, but I never visited a farmer’s market and paid by credit card before the 00s. Maybe not a big deal to you, but I know 100s of small vendors for whom this has been a big deal. I’d add to this – person to person financial transactions (not thinking Paypal, more Venmo and its ilk). Major change? Meh? But sure makes divvying up the tab at dinner easier.
Amazon Alexa and its ilk – I think they are horrible ideas, especially given the incumbents who control them and the surveillance implications, but surely these are new this last decade?
I could go on and we could quibble. It’s hard to disagree with the idea that the 90s saw an immense amount of change, because indeed the “printing-press of our time” became widely introduced then. But we’re like 25-ish years into what’s likely to be a much longer change window as various communications and coordinating functions get disrupted. This feels to me like the bigger piece behind your piece, a loss of personal agency and interest in the kind of changes that are happening on these platforms for change. If I’m correct, then I share this too. I’m not writing the above to argue “oh look how great the teens were,” more just that stuff is happening, indeed feels like faster than I can track it, but none of it seems going in a direction I particularly hope to follow it.