So what comes next?
Throughout 2013 I think it’s been clear that the tech industry has temporarily plateaued, as we await the next massive shift in how we use computers and the internet. We’ve executed that shift predicted years ago by the late Steve Jobs into the “post-PC era:” this term gets confused to imply that PCs are about to vanish off the face of the earth, but it’s really more about the fact that our primary personal computing experience has shifted onto smaller, nimbler devices like smartphones and tablets.
Anyone who has sat in an airport or waited in line at the grocery store knows that when ever-increasing numbers of people have a free moment, they’re staring at their phones, which can be attractively packaged and run for days because they have embraced a lightweight style of computing that doesn’t require powerful processors and storage systems to take advantage of computing resources stored far away in massive data centers.
A few months ago I accepted a new job running GigaOM’s editorial group, and we’re preparing to take the lessons we’ve learned from chronicling those two massive shifts that are now accepted facts — cloud computing and mobile computing — and use them to help us describe the next wave of technology innovation. The hunger from readers, event speakers, and friends for evidence of this next big shift has become very clear to me after several conversations at our Mobilize conference this past week and as we prepare for our upcoming RoadMap conference, which will be held November 5th and 6th in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the same location where Apple is planning to hold one of its now-trademark mobile product shows Tuesday.
A lot of those people asked me what GigaOM focuses on as we write about this wonderfully insane world of tech, in which amusingly bespoke social sticker apps compete for attention with software-defined networks. The answer is pretty simple. We write about change: about the massive business and societal changes that are unfolding because of the march of technology and connectivity into every corner of our lives.
There are many different ways you can write about the tech industry. Our goal is to provide our readers with the best news, analysis, features, and intelligence that we can produce in order to help them understand how these changes are affecting their businesses and their lives.
And the fundamental principle that GigaOM uses to measure change is that internet connectivity is the foundation of the modern tech industry. You can have the most powerful computers in the world or the most compelling social service ever developed, and none of it matters unless you can reach massive amounts of people through fast, reliable, and fairly priced connectivity.
So in addition to the cloud and mobile computing topics we’ve been covering for years, over the past few months we’ve started to look at newer ideas we find promising. I’m talking about subjects like education and health technology, both of which are changing rapidly and producing friction as mobile devices and always-on internet connections collide with bureaucracy and a rapidly aging population. Mobile computers are turning into “intimate computers,” computers that we’ll wear like jewelry while demanding supercomputing performance. And we’re taking a closer and closer look at emerging technologies like 3D printing and the internet of things, both of which promise to transform the way physical goods are produced by allowing actual objects to travel over the internet and by placing connected computers in unlikely places.
You’ll get a good taste of what this means at RoadMap. We’re going to talk about everything from smart home sensors to the insights that can be found in the piles of data generated by a new world of devices. And it’s all going to be filtered through a single lens: how design — good design — is what humanizes technology and makes it possible for massive behind-the-scenes improvements to processors, sensors, storage, networking, and displays to resonate with people who don’t know a hetnet from a hair net.
We hope you’ll join us at RoadMap. (You can buy your tickets here.) And we hope you continue to help us uncover the next big shift in computing by reading, commenting, and inspiring us to find the companies, technologies and people that are creating the future.