2006 was an exciting year in technology. Not so much for the ultra-new, but for pre-existing trends that are now more pervasive. What do you imagine the internet should be? In an ideal world, we'd have permanent online access to the world's information, and be able to communicate and work with people on a global basis. This year we can see how it can happen.
My take on the tech year is notable for the following trends, for me an essential part of our technological future, and figuring large in 2006.
Knowledge base of the year: Wikipedia (and Google)Despite what some say, Wikipedia is for me what I had imagined for the internet over ten years ago - and couldn't find. That is, an answer to any question that occurs to me. Wikipedia doesn't do that, but on the whole it comes pretty close, and acts as an excellent primer (and often more) for any subject that is not too obscure or localised, and a large number that are. Proof: Wikipedia has entered the common lexicon, not just that of the technically literate. And if you don't think it presents every side of a given story, test it out. Add content yourself. Find out how disputed points are mediated.
Google, too, has been around for some years. Some are trying to trump it, but it certainly hasn't happened yet. Also a part of the modern lexicon.
Democratisation of the year: personal content creation, via blogs, Myspace and YouTube, Digg, and many others.
Promise of the year: web 2.0 collaboration. I really don't think we've scratched the surface of what the internet can foster in the way of collaboration. This is another of the grand visions for the internet that is only just beginning to come to fruition.
Device of the year: wireless laptop. No question. You don't know what it's like until you've tried it. Open up the computer, resume, and talk to someone, find the answers from Wikipedia, or upload the information and ideas yourself.
Infrastructure of the year: two essentials here: broadband and XML.
Broadband covers any number of sins, down to communication via a wet piece of string. But access to decent bandwidth is essential for information wealth.
XML has also been around for a while, but it's become hard to avoid tripping over it (save when it's hidden behind the scenes), as it's become a standard for the exchange of information. Store it as xml and you save the form, not just the content.