This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of lists, we held a series of discussions about some of 2015's big trends and questions. Are all the major tech companies starting to look the same? Does anyone know what "censorship" means in a world of corporate-run social platforms? Why is Silicon Valley having so much trouble with health-science startups? Here's full list of our year-end conversations.
This year, in lieu of the traditional "Best Of" lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and have a conversation. The last few years we’ve been made more aware than ever of systematic discrimination, everywhere from our law enforcement to our boardrooms. Silicon Valley has grappled, with halting progress, to correct its deeply entrenched sexism. But Hollywood has always been painfully behind when it comes to reflecting the changing times — until this year. As platforms and channels diversified exponentially so did the people on screen and behind the cameras. Asian Americans created and starred in critically lauded sitcoms for the first time in over 20 years. The triumphant return of Star Wars starred a black man, a Hispanic man, and a white woman. And Caitlyn Jenner became the most high-profile transgender celebrity, in a year when trans issues received unprecedented attention on and offscreen.Read Article >
Hollywood has long been making half-hearted gestures toward diversity through quotas and special achievement awards, but this year was when audiences started voting with their dollars and their clicks. And the message was clear: the future of entertainment won’t be VR blockbusters or 4K Laser Projected 3D IMAX with rumbling seats. It will be an on-screen America that reflects the real America, and a community of directors, writers, and producers with a huge array of backgrounds and points of view. We brought Emily Yoshida and Kwame Opam together to talk about the changing face of entertainment in 2015.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw editors and writers into a draft together and have a conversation. It was an exciting and eventful year for space news even before SpaceX landed its first Falcon 9 rocket. NASA found subsurface oceans on a bunch of different worlds and returned breathtaking pictures from ones we’ve never seen before (like Pluto and Ceres). SpaceX grew increasingly popular before suffering its most major setback in June, when one of its rockets exploded. And the United Launch Alliance — the private space industry incumbent, and SpaceX’s biggest rival — celebrated making it to 100 launches with zero failures. Many of these milestones became major events online, where people watched rockets take off and celebrated new findings. This year we also watched these companies and agencies sharpen their public images and court a growing group of space fans. Loren Grush and Sean O’Kane break it down.Read Article >
Loren Grush: Spaceflight got a lot of mainstream attention this year — whether it was hype over a Pluto flyby or a SpaceX launch and landing. And many private companies, as well as NASA, are figuring out how to capitalize on that interest through social media, each in different ways.
Lizzie Plaugic: I think going into 2015 everyone expected streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to pick up some steam. But it ended up being a lot of steam: several of the most anticipated television shows this year — Master of None, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp — never even touched network television. This was the year streaming services moved from being an alternative to cable, to being a full-scale replacement for it. Mostly this was because writers and actors finally saw streaming services as a desirable home for their passion projects, instead of a last resort. This new legitimacy probably has something to do with the fact that the coveted 18-34 age bracket happens to overlap with the most common age of cord-cutters (20-somethings love Aziz Ansari, cult comedies, and stories about being trapped in a bunker).Read Article >
But Netflix, Hulu, and HBO also have fewer restrictions than traditional TV networks. In a Reddit AMA this fall, Ansari said, "We pitched only to premium spots cause we didn't want to deal with content issues. On Netflix, we never had one issue with content. Also, no need to edit to commercials."
This year, in lieu of the traditional "Best Of" lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and have a conversation. This is the year that censorship was either a big deal or lost all meaning. We got an error code for governments blocking web pages, a presidential candidate suggested we "close up" the internet, we spent a lot of time wondering whether college campuses were limiting free speech, and we got into a gigantic debate over whether Reddit’s stricter policies constituted censorship. And of course we heard about whether all the things Gamergate and similar internet bottom-feeders hated last year — Twitter block lists, comment moderation, saying a game was sexist — were still turning the internet into a censorious wasteland. We brought together Adi Robertson and Russell Brandom to discuss whether anyone knows what censorship means now.Read Article >
Adi Robertson: When I think back to older internet censorship fights, the ones I remember are about laws — like the Communications Decency Act or the suit over First Amendment protection for video games. But that's incomplete. The government has a kind of big, abstract control over the internet, but the most immediate power is in the hands of ISPs and web platforms like Google and Facebook. They can’t outright stop you from saying something, but they can make it really hard.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and just have a conversation. Chris Plante and Adi Robertson discuss how virtual reality’s breakout year was delayed. While VR made headlines everywhere, only one headset — the Gear VR — reached consumers in time for the holidays. What does VR’s slow road to store shelves say about the present state of the format, and should we be concerned about its future?Read Article >
Here's what we learned in 2015.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our writers into a draft together and have a conversation. Jamieson Cox and Micah Singleton talk about how the rise of streaming music is making one of the music industry's big problems even bigger. Apple is making a big investment in streaming, YouTube's joining the circus, and Google and Spotify's products keep getting bigger. Is any of the new money coming in trickling down to the artists who deserve it?Read Article >
Here's what we learned in 2015.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and have a conversation. One of the biggest topics in tech this year was the ever-expanding bubble in startup valuations, fueled by an ever-expanding pool of increasingly less qualified investors. We brought together our business editor Ben Popper, and our science editor, Liz Lopatto, to discuss what happens when you mix a flood of dumb money eager to invest in anything "disruptive" with life science companies that can actually impact our bodies and health. Here's what we learned in 2015.Read Article >
Ben Popper: This was the year the tide went out in tech, and we learned who was swimming naked. After five years of ever larger funding rounds, the market threw some cold water on the party. From Dropbox to Square to Snapchat, a lot of "unicorns" failed to live up to their sky-high valuations.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors and writers into a draft together and have a conversation. Here are Nilay Patel and Casey Newton discussing the hopes and many anxieties felt by the media as their industry becomes increasingly reliant on platforms. This year we learned that everyone in media is afraid of Facebook, and Snapchat is still trying to grow up. How do we pay for media? How is it distributed? What is a media brand?Read Article >
Casey Newton: By almost any measure, Facebook had an impressive year. Its revenue was up more than 40 percent in the last quarter, its stock price is a third higher than it was a year ago, and it dominates our attention on mobile and desktop devices. More than a billion people are now using Facebook every day. And even as it dominates the present, it’s made some prescient-looking bets on the future — particularly on messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger) and Oculus (virtual reality).
Is it time to rethink the car, an iconic symbol of 20th-century economic prosperity? The notion of disrupting Detroit certainly isn't new — there's been a rising tide of interest in transportation from Silicon Valley pillars and newcomers alike for several years now. But 2015 felt like a transformational year: there are the inescapable rumors of an Apple car, the expansion of Google's testing, and newcomers like Renovo and Faraday Future, all of which made news this year and call California home. And then, of course, there's Uber. The San Francisco unicorn had another banner year marked by nearly unthinkable leaps in valuation, gangbusters expansion, and key policy wins. As part of our end-of-year series, Chris Ziegler and Andrew Hawkins discuss Silicon Valley's challenge to the transportation industry.Read Article >
Here's how the Valley took on Detroit in 2015.
This year, in lieu of the traditional Best Of Lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and just have a conversation. For our kick-off chat, Lauren Goode and Dieter Bohn discuss how tech's biggest companies have essentially been copying each other's strategies. Google is making hardware, Apple is launching products faster than we can keep up, Microsoft is going all in on mobile. If this is the year everybody wants to be everybody else, does that make things more interesting or more boring than all-out war?Read Article >
Here's what we learned in 2015.