Last day of 2009. How was it?

December 31, 2009

For me (us) it has been a great year.
It all started in December 2008. Nuria got a new job at The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. A considerable jump in her career in a place where most of us would love to work for what they do, which is to save lives. 4.9 million to be precise.

Once we learnt that, I was working at Shelter Centre where I was the Web Communications Chief, I asked for leave without pay, so we could have a dream trip around the world February and March. They accepted. The new Drupal website was up and running now it was just a question of fine tuning it.

Shelter Centre | the NGO supporting the humanitarian community in post-conflict and disaster shelter and housing (20091231).png

We bought a round the world ticket with roundtheworldflights.com very nice people (thanks Jarvis) and very good price.
We did Geneva, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tahiti, Auckland, Christchurch, Hong Kong, London, Geneva. All flexible. In Tahiti we bought internal flights to Moorea, Bora Bora and Huahine (see photos at http://norai.net)

Well we blogged every day in our TDM (tour du monde), so you can see our adventures, skydiving, and 9000 km driving in New Zealand. IMG_1614

There we conceived Kai. Our Christmas present for 2009.

Once back in Geneva Nuria started her job, and I was called by my former employer (the ITC) where I worked nearly for 5 years as a consultant and they asked me to join them, so I finished the site at Shelter Centre and joined ITC in July, where I have been an Advisor in Export Strategy and Competitiveness up to present, traveling extensively to Africa (Liberia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda…).

When kai was born, 23 days ago, we also got our new car. We said bye to the 1989 red Golf GTI and said Hi to the new Fiat 500.IMG_1610

Now I can go to work in the car rather than in my Ducati. It is pretty cold and rains often. I’m very happy with my new little car too. Pack of technology by default (bluetooth for mobile, reads mp3 from USB key, vocal commands, … etc…)

So as you see, even if for most of the world it has been a bad year, not for us.

My brother lost his job. Nuria’s brother’s too. The economy is in pretty bad shape, but 2009 has been a very good year for us.

Now it is coming to an end. In less than 6 hours in fact. It is also the end of a decennium.

What happened this decennium technologically speaking?

This decennium has been a huge change in technology. Internet has changed the world. We carry our computers in our phones, specially since the iPhone came out. Internet is fast web2.0 has brought us video and ajax. The web experience has reached unthinkable limits. Google has become bigger than General Motors and one of the most profitable companies in the world… and it is in internet… who could have imagine something like that 10 years ago! They are even on the phone industry!

Information is now at the tip of the hands. Mobile phones have spread like mushrooms and have given Africa a huge step towards development and poverty reduction.

Now the big media companies (CBS, CNN and so) are not that big. Internet has provided real time news and information has been democratized with tools such as twitter or Facebook. We know what it is going on firt by social media tools than from BBC or CNN. We are the writers and we control the content with tools such as digg or delicious. Now we have millions of people feeding the news. It is a user generated era, even companies have started to learn that they should have API’s or be open source (google). Look at the contribution in kind done to the iphone platform! nearly 100.000 apps!

The hardware has progressed a lot too. My iPhone 3GS has 32Mb. Solid state memory has increased at huge steps too. Who could think 10 years ago that a mobile phone could have 32Gb or/and a 8Mp camera? 10 years ago we had 3Mp with a terrible screen. Now cameras like canon 5d mark II provide video at a HD quality with the plus of professional lenses.

What else have we seen… the web… the web has gone from a showroom to a two-way collaborative tool making our live more efficient. We buy all via internet now. I bought not only my car via internet but most of the stuff I own. And I have been doing that for a while already. My 42 LCD TV I bought in ebay in 2003. In my house, the shower with sauna, the massage chair, all the kitchen appliances and most of the stuff I bought via internet.

Last that I can think of for this last decade, having kai and Nuria sleeping on my right, is that finally the LHC (at CERN) is working! I am proud as I worked for 3 years in the conception phase of the LHC 10 years ago. To see it now running is great, specially when I contributed to it.

What can we expect in the next 10 years?

Obviously the hardware will continue to explode. Hard disk, processors, screen technology (LED or something new, ebook readers, tablets), internet speed and connectivity (wimax, 4g)… that will make information easier to access and to share. Now a smartphone has GPS, accelerometers and a lot of sensors. I foresee a step towards this sort of uses: location, using the camera of the phone to take a photo from anything and have image recognition, reviews, who is there, where is cheaper, banking, payments… all!!. Search engines will go one step further and they will have other ways to search than text, photos videos, voice… everything indexable. With my phone I will be able to see where my friends are, what they are drinking, etc… reviews are important. I use internet to review and read reviews of what I buy, the hotels I go (tripadvisor), google, tell me where, etc… so location, location, location.

But not everything are flowers… I think that because Internet is going to be so big, Internet Governance is going to be a big issue. Now the US controls ICANN and a lot of other stuff. Internet Governance is going to be a difficult topic. Also Internet as a human right. ISP (internet providers) will try to get the maximum out of it, by capping, limiting connectivity, filtering content (like in China) and so. If this is the case, Internet could be in danger. It should be a 100% open platform. No restrictions. I hope governments intervene to avoid this sort of issues that we are already starting to see in the US with ISPs. Access to Internet should be unlimited and unrestricted. Government should be careful also not doing like in Finland where they are going to filter content at ISP level… a biiiiig mistake.

Privacy is also going to be an issue, but I guess we will be living in public. There is no problem for me, but privacy should be seriously managed. Specially when companies are outsourcing for instance email to google apps, or google docs and calendars…

Cloud computing will be big, and I don’t know if computers will trend to be more like terminals and run all the programs in the cloud. I do use google docs a lot I must say. Online photo services, backups, etc… I can’t wait to see how it progresses. The combination of cloud computing and terminals with strong browsers with offline technology could be a way. If you think about it, why not log in at any computer/terminal and have your files programs and so? Well this could be achieved with good connectivity and good cloud computing. But again, if this is where we go, we will start to see issues of compatibility and standards. Exporting things from a cloud to a computer or to another cloud… it should be standardized.

But the I wonder… when I bought my fiat 500, I printed out the price I was getting in internet and went to my local Fiat dealer. The salesman was furious. He said he could not compete with that. They have cost of personnel, stocks, training, etc… while the guy in internet buys bulk and gets incredible prices… so it made me think. There is no point in having shops or car dealers. They are simply not competitive with internet. So where is the business? Well, services I guess. Garage to repair. Warehouse to collect parts. Advise… but not in selling goods. I told the guy in Fiat that his business model was condemned to die.

There is another ethical question you could ask yourself. If you could buy cheaper 98% of people would buy cheaper. What about paying extra if it manufactured at home, or uses organic stuff, or is environmentally better? It is a difficult question. Specially for our generation. I hope next generation will think differently. Developed countries can not live from services alone, and the rest is more expensive than to do it abroad. So what to do? Free trade has given a lot of opportunities to developing countries, but we have seen with Doha failure that one size does not fit all. What about free movement of people? Goods and people are not strangers. If I am a farmer in France and all farming goes to … China (just a stupid example), then what happens to the french farmer? Should he go to China? Move to something else? Should we cluster activities wherever they are more productive? I don’t know. That would not be sustainable for the environment. Look at Indonesia, they have destroyed the forest to put palm oil plantations. It is so sad. Al fauna is dead and most of the country is monocorp…. but this is where we are going! Look at the farmers in the US. Maybe it should be studied where the environmental impact is lower and do it there.

If you go to Africa you will see how developed countries have destroyed. We imposed the capitalism there. The richer continent in earth is the poorest. Before people there did not have to work. If they were hungry they would take it from the trees. No effort. Simple and happy life….

The end of it is that we can not avoid to spread wealth with this model, meaning that developed countries will have to lower their living standards, otherwise I don’t see how this is sustainable. Closing borders? Big mistake… Anyway that is whole new story.

Happy new year!!!

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  1. Pingback: tokao.com » Prediction for 2010

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