New Year. Two words that I was looking forward since pretty much the start of last year. As years go 2020 proved to be one of the most challenging that I have experienced, the signs for 2021 being similar are a tad ominous right now. But enough of this negativity, because if we take a little time sifting through the craziness, there were in fact some amazing moments, some bewildering, others just outright frustrating.
It was whilst reflecting on the year that I got to thinking about all the events that occur during a year that are so massive that they become moments in time, events so monumental that they are referenced for years to come, so here is my take on some of the biggest moments of 2020.
- Space X launch: I do not want to come across like I did not enjoy watching it, trust me I did. But when the spaceship called Dragon burst through the earth's atmosphere back in May it was like the 1960’s all over again. The end was nigh, but not to worry, the Americans are firing rockets into space to find us a new planet! The Space X launch was really something to get excited about in 2020. It may seem irrelevant to some people, but in my view, the space program is super exciting and important as it helps us to understand our world and our place in the universe. Also, technological innovation would be a lot slower if it were not for the work of NASA, the European Space program, and others around the world. Watching the Space X launch was hugely uplifting, at a time when there really wasn’t much to celebrate it was a reminder that innovation never stops and there is always something on the horizon to hang on to, even if it means moving planets.
- US Election: Global Broadcasting – Every four years America chooses its next president, though it feels like the campaign trail never ends in American politics. The 2020 election was a particularly drawn out and an increasingly bizarre affair. I mean this thing went on for days, reporters camped in car parks and getting noticeably scruffier as the days went on. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, Trump’s lawyer Rudolf Giuliani gave a news conference in the car park of a downtown garden centre next to a sex shop, go figure. Not to mention the anger and vitriol that accompanied every report. But this is the result of 24-hour news where every minute, largely insignificant, the detail is reported just to fill time and so the size of the broadcast grows exponentially because no channel is ever off the air. It really is just extraordinary the size of news broadcasting today and what is needed to keep the show going all day every day. Without delving into a political rabbit hole, the four years under President Trump were tumultuous, to say the least, so I am actually looking forward to four quiet and hopefully stable years with Uncle Joe in charge of Uncle Sam.
- US Election: Voting Machines & Postal Votes – The second US election point that I felt warranted a mention might seem a little leftfield but stay with me. A lot of the focus during elections is on the beginning and the end, being the campaign and the result. The actual voting process gets minimal attention in a normal election, but not in 2020. This time the voter machine and postal ballots were front and centre - I think there is a Disney Pixar film about the forgotten voter machine just waiting to be made, but I digress. The accusations of voter fraud because people, including President Trump, voted by post coupled with accusations that the Dominion voting machines were stealing the election by switching votes, created a rare excitement around the actual process by which an election is delivered. Democracy depends on this process to be correct, so making sure the system is secure and stable to deliver the democratic process on the day is fundamental to a fair and free election. Many commentators called the fallout of this election an attack on democracy, I personally felt I watched democracy at work and so the voting mechanisms and the teams running the polling stations deserved a little shout out.
- Work from home: Coronavirus has had enough attention over the past 12 months, so I felt it should wait until now to get a proper mention, but there is no escaping the monumental changes to our lives the pandemic has caused. Some have been obvious, others are more subtle. One very unavoidable consequence of Covid-19 was the shift to work from home. Whether you see this as a good thing or not will depend on a multitude of life’s variables from your personality, living arrangements, job satisfaction etc. but I do not think this one is going away. For us at IP Fabric, we were already set up for home working, but for many organisations, this was something they had never planned for and did not know how to execute. What really changed with work from home? No post-work drinks with your colleagues, or respite from the madness that is a house full of kids. But on the upside, I am not sure many folks will be particularly aggrieved at the time they get back from not commuting, allowing them to have more quality family time, exercise more, eat better and sleep more. I for one am not complaining.
- Track & Trace Covid-19: When a global pandemic erupts, what is the best cause of action? Some countries like the UK and Sweden chose to do nothing, which resulted in the UK looking foolish and the Swedes looking ever so cool and…well Swedish. But most countries realised that some sort of tracing system was the best way to get a grip, and so we were encouraged to download an app which would notify you of possible exposure to coronavirus. The reason I chose to include this was because of the fear that was aroused about privacy, which I never understood. In an age when people readily post their whole life on social media, the sudden pushback that developed over fears that the app would know where you are, who with, for how long, how you got there, how you got home and what you ate, as if your phone didn’t already know this, initially surprised me but then actually just left me with a feeling that for all our apparent digital understanding, most people really don’t understand technology at all. I will leave that there because otherwise, this blog post will descend into a 5G technology explainer for those who like burning telecoms masts.
So, there we have it, some truly monumental events to kick off the decade. Personally, I feel that this decade will be truly transformative and that life as we have known it will be very different. Change is never easy; it requires fortitude and a commitment to see it through. However, constant development is how we make things better and being better is what we should all focus on achieving in 2021.