What has been the big new thing of 2011? Was this the year in which Facebook succumbed to personal concerns over privacy, ownership of content and legal threat with users moving in large numbers to the safe environment provided by Diaspora? I think not. Similarly although Google+ has had more or an impact than Diaspora, the early adopters still seem unconvinced that it can provide significant benefits over, say, Twitter.

Perhaps 2011 has been the year of the mobile, with a range of new devices and applications transforming our work and study environment? When I asked for a show of hands at the start of the IWMW 2011 event for people who had a mobile device with them, the sea of hands was unexpected. But I also found that significant numbers had brought along multiple mobile devices and, in response to a question as to whether people preferred use a handheld device to, say, a laptop whilst at home in front of the TV, I was pleased to discover that I am not alone in using my mobile phone rather than my laptop when I wish to look up the TV guide, the football scores or take part in a Twitter discussion. But to be honest I feel that the growth in the importance of mobile has been gradual, with no sudden large scale change being noticeable, not even after the subdued launch of the latest iPhone – although whether we will see the expected large numbers of Android Tablet PCs being bought this Christmas (and cheaper models in the January generic topamax price sales) making 2012 the year of mobile remains to be seen.

Or has 2011 saw the belated arrival of Linked Data? Again despite the feeling that more pragmatic approaches to linking data from disparate sources are becoming accepted, Linked Data doesn’t seem to have yet set the world alight.

I don’t think there has been a significant new major technical development during 2011. But for me 2011 has been the year in which amplified events have started to grow beyond their roots in technologically-focussed events to become more widely embedded.

But what evidence do I have to back up this assertion? It does seem that we are finding that delegates at conferences:

  • Expect events to have a WiFi network so that they can discuss talks with other attendees and share their thoughts with a remote audience.
  • Expect event organisers to provide an event hashtag to make the event back channel easy to find.

In addition to seem to be finding that speakers:

  • Are willing to be live streamed.
  • Are appreciated that delegates who are using their mobile devices during their talks are likely to be actively engaged in the topic and helping to engage others in discussing the ideas

There is also a growing expectation that large-scale events will provide dedicated effort to support such activities:

  • An event amplifier who will be responsible for expanding the audience, an enhancing the experience and spreading and sharing ideas.
  • Technical support to manage video-streaming and/or recording of talk.

I’m looking forward to participating in more amplified events in 2012. But what have your technological highlights of 2011 been?