The Top Five Technology Stories of 2009

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During the month of December, it is appropriate to take a look back and a look forward. In this first part of our series, Desiree and Joe  talk about the five biggest technology news stories of 2009 that made a significant contribution to the technology map moving forward. We also discuss what they might mean as we move into 2010 in our next podcast.

This is in no particular order as per the importance of the topic.

1)  The rollout of Google Wave
With much fanfare and hype, the developers at Google announced a new product that was going to be the "next generation of email!"  The technorati were in a ferver over getting one of the limited number of invites, some even looking to purchase invites on eBay.  Slowly but surely the invites were being distributed and people had a chance to get a look at what Google Wave was all about.

At this point Wave continues to be an enigma to even the most ardent supporters.  There is no question that it is still a work in progress so even something as simple as an immediate notification of a new Wave is missing. 

There are some applications that appear to be best use cases. For example, if there is a need for a collaborative environment where multiple people need to be passing information back and forth with a single final output. Desiree's nephew Kyle is attending The University of Illinois-Chicago and has determined that Wave can be beneficial in his study group, so we extend the invitation to him to appear on an edition of The Bella Buzz to give us a review of their usage.

2) Twitter as a news source

When the news of the Iranian election uprisings broke this past June, right here on the Bella Buzz we called Twitter_logo it possibly one of the biggest news stories of the year … and our prediction turned out to be correct. The story from our perspective is actually broader than just the population of Iran taking to the streets (and still in the streets), the story was more about how Twitter posts and cell phone video uploads distributed the coverage far in advance of anything that the mainstream media could provide. It was such a blatant shift in our expectations of news organizations, that actually CNN went on the air to defend their actions.

By the time of Michael Jackson's passing later that month, we had come to expect that the pervasive, simple nature of Twitter would be getting the message around quicker than a news report.

3)  Facebook reaching 350 Million Users

Facebook In an open letter from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of December, he stated that "more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online."

This might in fact turn out to be the year that really puts Facebook over the top.  What was once the playground of college students, then early adopters, has now extended to baby boomers and beyond.  Facebook has fast become the way to connect, re-connect and to stay in touch.

Part of the reason for the expansion is adding functionality outside of the walls of Facebook such as Facebook Connect.  By allowing web sites to incorporate a login function using Facebook credentials, it extends the content from the site back into Facebook.  Web site owners like the ability to build a community that will port their content in front of a News Feed of potentially 350 million, while simultaneously making it easy for users to sign up for a Facebook account.

4) NASA adopts Social Media
Somewhere in the halls of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration there was a smart decision made. There was a decision to implement some social media strategies to help the general population rediscover the exciting missions taking place in our space program.

Programs that used these tools include the Mars Phoenix lander, sending out tweets during it's trips around the Martian surface and its demise.

There was Astronaut Mike Massimino, known as @Astro_Mike. He continues to use Twitter to distribute information about his endeavors. He is getting lots of votes currently on Mashable for his nominated Tweet of the Year.

The coolest implementation happened around the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.  NASA developed an interactive web site, We Choose the, complete with actual audio as it happened in 1969. They also established Twitter accounts for each of the parties as if they were using Twitter to communicate; Apollo CapComApollo Spacecraft, and the Eagle Lander.

Upon announcement of the 2010 NASA Budget, an additional $2 billion has been added to NASA's 2009 and 2010 budgets under the Obama administration.  President Obama nominated ="_blank">Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator.

5) Google Android Phones

The new open source operating system for mobile phones has reached the mass Google-android-logomarket.  The release of  the Droid phone from Verizon is the first in what will be a line of many phones that are incorporating the Apps and useability currently found in the iPhone. There is a now a decision to be made at the end of the AT&T contracts that users had to sign when they acquired an iPhone.  The decision now can be simply which carrier works best for me, which has the plan that I want, and which phone gives me the best value. 

Please let us know if we've missed any stories you would consider most important this year. Leave us a comment with any stories you think deserve a mention!   Look for next week's episode for the predictions for 2010 and beyond!

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Is Google Taking Over the World?

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We get into a lively conversation this week about all things Google on The Bella Buzz podcast. One of Desiree's family members instigated the conversation by claiming that Google is "taking over the world." Based upon a quick search (on Google), we were able to identify over one-billion results with titles such as
After a quick rundown of all of services that we use from Google, ranging from Apps to the Chrome browser  we try to pinpoint where the concerns might be coming from.  The topic seems to have picked up some steam lately with the announcement of the Google Chrome OS.

It's not hard to understand the fear and concern when listing all of the information that Google is collecting and how it could be used inappropriately in the wrong hands.  However, when you extrapolate that the most common use of this information is to target more relevant advertisements for you, it doesn't seem that sinister.

An interesting parallel conversation about the release of Chrome OS is how it impacts Microsoft.  The initial machines targeted for running Chrome are the inexpensively small netbooks.  This comes directly upon the release of Windows 7 which has also been commended for it's lightness when running on a netbook. With Apple's Snow Leopard on high-end laptops, Chrome on the low-end laptops, where does that leave Windows 7?

In order to help eliminate some of these fears that are surfacing about Google's dominance, they have taken two direct steps towards making it easier for you to control your data.  The first is the Google Dashboard. Every account that is registered to you is listed so that you can control details, read up on privacy policies and manage them from one single location.

The second action that they have implemented and consistently stood by is the ability to easily export data from any of your accounts.  This blog post from Matt Cutts explains that it has been a company directive going back to an Eric Schmidt statement about "trapping users data".

In the end, we can't take a company that is constantly innovating efficient forms of communication for granted.  We have to be aware of how to use the applications that they provide for us, but understand that there are trade-offs.  Let's keep an eye on any security lapses.  That is the bellwether for any mass exodus away from using Google services.  We are all willing to give them the data and to use the applications they provide, but the minute there is a sense that we (and they) have lost control over the data .. that's a whole new ballgame.

We don't want to dig too much deeper into the other elements of services that Google is proposing such as Google Books and Google Music. Those topics could take us entire Bella Buzz episodes on their own, so we will explore those at a later date!

We would like to get listener input into their opinions about using Google services.  Do you have an opinion one way or another?  We would love to get your input into this topic.  Leave us a note in the comments and we'll discuss this further.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.