This past year was the hardest one of my life. I lost my dear mother-in-law, I had to struggle to keep my small business afloat and was stressed the fuck out from a global pandemic. It was a gut punch in so many ways and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered just yet. At the same time, I know I shouldn’t be complaining. So many people suffered, not just from the pandemic but from its aftershocks. I’m one of the lucky ones that has just had to endure a few minor inconveniences. Many people are forced out of work and have lost their sense of purpose. While remote work is often celebrated, I tend to forget that most people work in the physical world. For those people, video calls or chat can’t replace their livelihoods.
At the front lines of this war, often forgotten are the healthcare workers. They are burdened with inadequate resources and generally deficient political leadership. Watching daily stats of the body count isn’t an accurate representation of reality. A lot of people are in a world of hurt right now.
So yeah, fuck everything that happened this year.
It’s hard being positive even for starry-eyed optimists like myself. Can anything good come out of this whole mess? With some perspective, I really believe so. This past year will be seen as a catalyst to help propel society forward in many different and unforeseen ways. Predictions are hard (especially about the future), yet it’s hard not to imagine a better world emerging from this. There will be a significant acceleration of technological trends in the coming decade that will improve human life everywhere.
The common trope is that we’ve accelerated the shift to the internet by a decade. Another way to look at it is that the well known line of software eating the world is playing out in front of us in real-time. Of course, it’s been happening for years but there’s a new sense of inevitability. A lot of the innovation & discoveries have already happened. We have entered the deployment age of technology where every sector of society is being transformed.
I’m really excited about how software will redefine our physical world. Today, many of these technologies feel clunky in many ways. For instance, autonomous vehicles are still in their infancy. Fast forward, a few years and you can imagine the positive impact once the technology improves. Now, take that example and apply it to agriculture, medicine, manufacturing, etc. and you get the picture.
Trends are boring in general but interesting in particular
Trends are boring in general but really interesting in particular. With the new year in place, it’s customary to read about what the important trends will be. Reading trends in general are not particularly insightful. Discovering the application of these shifts is fascinating. There are so many different areas of progress that are worth understanding. I highly recommend this good read by Eli Dourado that covers many of the areas undergoing prosperous growth.
Reasons for optimism
We’re past the point where any one person can truly grasp the technological change occurring across every industry. It’s happening across the board. The implications for legacy organizations are particularly striking, management will need to deeply understand how software works and its potential implications. The faster our governments, nonprofits and institutions can adapt, the better off we’ll be. Of course, many newer companies will be there along the way to help out.
Just like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, we’ll see many groups of people coming together to make things better. And for that I’m grateful to have survived this year to see what’s coming next.