Each year, I post a roundup of technology breakthroughs for that year from the MIT Technology Review, and I now present the 2008 edition.
2008 was a year of unusually low technological innovation. This is not merely the byproduct of the economic recession, as some forms of innovation actually quicken during a recession. Furthermore, the innovations from 2006 and 2007 (linked below) showed very little additional progress in 2008, except in the field of energy. This also confirms my observation from February 2008 that technology diffusion appears to be in a lull.
The innovations in 2008 are categorized below :
What is conspicuously absent is any article titled 'The Year in Nanotechnology'. Both 2006 and 2007 had such articles, but the absence of a 2008 version speaks volumes about how little innovation took place in 2008. The entire field on nanotechnology was lukewarm.
Most of the innovations in the articles above are in the laboratory phase, which means that about half will never progress enough to make it to market, and those that do will take 5 to 15 years to directly affect the lives of average people (remember that the laboratory-to-market transition period itself continues to shorten in most fields).
Furthermore, The Wall Street Journal has its own innovation awards for 2008, but this merely confirms that 2008 was a poor year for innovation. For example, the Tata Nano is chosen in the WSJ article, yet it is not available to consumers until mid-2009. Let's hope 2009 has more genuine innovations.
Into the future we continue, where 2009 awaits....