How the tech world has changed - five eras of innovation

I loosely refer to five different eras of tech as we know it. I break it up this way to essentially illustrate that things ain’t what they used to be. Of course I’m sure you could chart progress in this way for many industries, but for tech, given the breakneck speed of innovation and the fact that many of us have worked in this space for 10+ years (and grown up in it for 30), it can be difficult to see the differences without the lens of constant adaptation.

🤖The OG web (pre-1990)

  • Standardised (plan HTML, what is Javascript?)
  • Internet for academics
  • Hypertext fiction

🖨️ The Wild Wild West/Dot Com Bubble (1990-2000)

  • Creativity - “Web 1.0”, Geocities, Myspace
  • Rise of Amazon, IBM, Microsoft
  • Unregulated
  • Netscape Navigator, Apple’s Clamshells
  • The Internet is for Nerds
    • Webmasters
  • Startup endgame: invent something cool! Change the world! Meet other nerds!

📱The Growth Years (2000 - 2010)

  • ”Web 2.0”, drop shadows, rounded corners, skeuomorphism, Bootstrap, Drupal etc.
  • UI design emergence
  • Lean Six Sigma for tech
  • The advent of the powerful rectangle (iPhone, 2007)
  • Apps, CMSs
  • Innovation culture
    • Smart people work in tech, WTF are they even talking about
    • Coding is magic
  • Businesses “coming online”
  • Myspace → Facebook
  • Startup endgame: go public, get famous, employees get rich from salaries.

🦈 Eat or be eaten (2010 - 2020)

  • More apps, so many apps (too many apps?)
  • Instagram
  • “Responsive web”
  • Explosion of startups and startup-building tech (Squarespace, Create React App, Slack, Notion) and then hypergrowth of some startups into incumbents (FAANG et al).
  • The power of the CMS
  • Governments start to explore standardisation
  • Accessibility
  • Hustle Culture
    • Gary Vee
    • Tim Ferriss
    • Biohacking etc
  • Digital nomads/Girls should learn to code
    • Girlboss culture
  • UX design maturity
  • Facebook → Twitter → TikTok
  • Cryptocurrency (for nerds)
  • VC! Angel investors! Airpods
  • Privacy a rising concern → GDPR
  • Startup endgame: sell to FAANG or turn into passive income, employees get rich via options.

🦠 Tech eats the world/Post-covid tech (2020 - current era)

  • Tech billionaires
    • Everyone who got rich in the last era is now also VC
  • Startups: Hard Mode
  • Learn to code or you may never afford a house
  • Nobody Wants To Work Anymore/I Do Not Dream of Labor
    • Remote/hybrid work
    • Part time pandas/four day work week
    • Noping out/I run a cafe now
  • Cryptocurrency (for bros (NFTs))
  • Privacy and tech ethics
  • Tech influence on politics
    • Break up big tech
    • Cambridge Analytica
    • Facebook Files
    • The Social Dilemma
    • Trump banned from Twitter
  • Startup endgame: make money if possible, get enough brand power to be hired at FAANG later.