We’re always looking for the New New Thing in tech, since long before Michael Lewis coined the phrase. Often we are entirely too successful. There are so many New New Things — and so many of them fall from the sky like burned-out flares soon enough, to further litter the graveyard of Old New Things. Can we learn from them? Probably. Will we learn from them? Probably not. But it’s worth remembering them anyway, from time to time. And so I give you this highly idiosyncratic list of yesterday’s tomorrows from the twenty-teens:
What can we learn from this? Maybe that the nadir of sugar-water smartphone apps is, thankfully, behind us, in 2014 and 2015, finally replaced by more interesting technologies. Maybe that Google was flailing a little for a few years there, but has since stabilized. Maybe that the notion that connecting the world would change it for the better, politically, faded away after the first few years of this decade, replaced by the grim reality of increasing loggerhead political polarization. And maybe that what seemed like the onrushing future can turn into the quaint past with amazing speed.