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By BRINK

It’s Been a Decade of Change

As the 2010s come to a swift close, we wanted to reflect and rank the five most significant milestones of the decade across design, technology, and culture.

  1. Rise of Social Media: What started in the late 2000s as a trend for technogeeks and Gen Y went mainstream this decade and the effects on humanity have been surprisingly devastating. But before we get too preachy again about the harmful effects of the internet (we will talk more on that another day), it’s worth reflecting on just how much social media transformed both brand marketing and politics. The majority of our resources these days are spent building and targeting content pieces that show up in these little windows people hold in their hands.
     
  2. Smart Phones Meet Cloud Computing: Thomas Friedman called 2007 the most significant year in human history we didn’t realize at the time. Why? Because it was the year that iPhone was introduced coinciding with the rise of AWS and making cloud computing accessible to all. This catalyzed an ecosystem of apps that spent the decade transforming industries: AirBnB, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, Slack, etc. The 2010s will be seen as the decade the Internet moved from being its own thing to being fully entrenched in the way we live and work.
     
  3. Artificial Intelligence Goes Mainstream: It started with IBM Watson kicking human ass on Jeopardy in 2011 and reached a crescendo through the middle of the decade as virtual assistants got smarter, machine learning services became available to any developer, and self-driving cars became reality. We’re at the very beginning of a very young cognitive computing era that is going to change the makeup of our economy.
     
  4. Flat Design Movement: Early days of interface design relied on visual metaphors to help users acclimate to new technology. For example, the Apple Newsstand looked like a physical bookcase, the volume controls looked like knobs on your boombox, and buttons had a 3D reflective quality with detailed shadowing and beveling that you could physically press in — a style of designed call skeuomorphism. The 2010s represented a move away from this style (and the overly reflective and gradient filled “web 2.0” aesthetic) and toward flat design, letting digital devices have their own visual language that is more subtle and focused on supporting content.
     
  5. Election of #45: The 2016 elections were a wakeup call. It made us realize that we must be guided by a firm and unapologetic purpose, that we must accept blame and responsibility for the adverse effects our industry has had on the psyche of humanity, and that we have an extremely important role to play as storytellers in fighting disinformation, extremism, and hatred. We are on a mission to work with brands, candidates, and causes that share our mission in elevating our communities and culture.
By BRINK