December 28, 2009 /
Remembering the First Decade
As we approach a new decade in 2010, my mind instinctively goes back in time and scans the past decade.
My thoughts easily jump back to ten years ago as we prepared for Y2K and the new millennium. I recall the fear and excitement as we watched the local, national and international news on New Year's Eve to see if computer programs would crash and send the world into chaos. Our government technology teams spent over three years preparing for that night, and I remember the relief when all went well.
Events seemed to seesaw back and forth over the past ten years. After Y2K came the contested Presidential election of 2000 - with "hanging chads" and plenty of resulting technological challenges.
Next came 9/11/01. Who can forget where they were on 911? I was in the Romney building in downtown Lansing, Michigan. Our team was building the first Michigan.gov portal, which would bring together state websites in new ways and provide one face of government to citizens. I was shocked as I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center on live TV.
But these events are more than just sad memories or interesting History Channel topics. These true stories helped to shape who we are in government today. After September 11 th , government priorities changed. The Department of Homeland Security was established in Washington DC. I went back to focusing on computer security at work.
Meanwhile the Internet was taking off. Everyone was going online as never before. Families installed wireless networks in homes, MySpace and then Facebook became huge, and Google became a verb. Check out these fascinating statistics from CNET on average web usage growth over the past fifteen years.
Along with the good came the bad. The increase in cyber crime and identity theft started attracting attention. The growth in malware became exponential.
In my opinion, the growth of Internet use is the most important technology story of the decade. Yes, there are many sub-trends, such as the Apple iPod, blackberries, and more. But the Internet is changing so many aspects of society. Taking a peek into the future, I suspect virtual worlds and avatars are going to continue that trend into the next decade.
I could go on and on regarding events this decade. The historic election of Barack Obama, our "great recession" and the many events of 2009 will certainly be remembered decades from now. New pushes towards infrastructure projects such as rural broadband, health IT and cloud computing are certainly changing government now and will shape our future.
But my point in this blog is to encourage you to look back as you look forward. Aristotle said, " If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development."
So I encourage you to take a few minutes and visit the "Wayback Machine" online. This Internet archive will take you back to what various websites looked like on different days. Scroll down and look at the coverage of various significant events.
This has been a remarkable first decade of the 21 st century. What new technology has made the biggest impact to government in your opinion?