The Electric Educator: 5 Technologies to Watch In 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

5 Technologies to Watch In 2011

Note: This is the fifth and final installment of my "5 things to watch in 2011" series.

Josef Dunne, Via Flickr

1. HTML5
The development of HTML5 has been underway since 2004. The big revision within HTML5 is the ability to add tags for multimedia which eliminates the need for third party plugins like Flash. This is a huge development for Mac users as they will finally be able to access multimedia content on the iphone, ipod touch and ipad! HTML5 will also enable richer websites. Some notable sites such as YouTube and Facebook are already experimenting with the new coding language. 

Ivan Walsh, Via Flickr
2. Cloud Computing
I realize that I'm being a bit redundant as I also identified cloud computing as one of my 5 trends to watch in 2011. Cloud computing is an up and coming trend, but it is also a technology that is in need of improvement. Google Docs and Prezi are great, but are still not on equal footing with perennial favorites like MS Office. Innovations like the now-defunct Google Wave and newly released Chrome OS are helping improve cloud computing and have begun to make it a viable choice. Schools and businesses are migrating to Google Apps, the most viable cloud computing platform on the market while Microsoft is doing its best to stay relevant in this rapidly changing environment. 

Mike Saechang, Via Flickr
3. 3G, 4G, 5G?
Cellular data connections are getting faster. That's great. 3G technology has become old news and the telecom giants are rolling out their 4G networks. The speed of existing 3G networks somewhere between 3-14mb/second while 4G promises speeds anywhere from 42mb-1Gb/second. Keep in mind that most of these speed tests do not take into account network congestion, not to mention the fact that the 4G networks are not very large. As mobile data speeds increase, the developing world will become increasingly connected. Cell phones are a lot cheaper than laptops and cellular connections are a lot easier to come by than WiFi networks. The recent events in Egypt have clearly demonstrated the power of the social networks to energize and mobilize large groups of people. As more and more countries are connected to faster data networks, social networking will become even more popular and potentially explosive.  

HighTechDad, Via Flickr
4. The Connected Car
We are connected to the network at home, at the office, at school, on planes, trains, and boats, but not in the car. I've always been surprised that auto makers haven't beefed up the connectivity in their cars. Ford did, and they won big time. The Ford Sync system which connects mobile phones to the cars infotainment system has been the hottest selling item of all auto makers. Ford continues to work on the integration of their infotainment system with Apple, Blackberry, and Android smartphones. They are currently working on voice control over smartphone apps, allowing users to Tweet from the car or listen to music via Pandora. It makes sense that cars join everything else on the grid. Maybe oneday my car will be a rolling WiFi hotspot!

The Daring Librarian, via Flickr
5. eReaders/eBooks
I am not going to buy an eReader until the battle over eBook standards is settled. Currently, all of the major eReader companies, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders are waging war to determine who's digital format will become the standard. This situation always happens with new technologies. It happened in the 70's with the Betamax vs. VHS and just recently with BlueRay vs. HD DVD. If you bought a Betamax or HD DVD player, I'm sorry. 
I have no doubt that eBooks are here to stay and that the sales of printed books will drop steadily. What is unclear is the standard eBook file format. Amazon developed its own proprietary format called AZW. There is also the traditional PDF format, and  ePub and eReader. Google has thrown the weight of its eBook store behind ePub and an all-out battle is now raging against the Amazon Kindle, which does not support ePub.
The battle for format standards will continue throughout 2011. The winner will either be Amazon's AZW or the open source ePub format endorsed by Google. I'm waiting to purchase an eReader until after they figure it all out.

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