The Best Ideas of 2012

Quartz, the Atlantic Monthly’s new business magazine, recently asked me to compile a list of the best ideas to emerge this year from the technology industry, in an essay published just after Christmas. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The last-second economy: in the I’ll-call-you-when-I’m-close era, consumers expect everything to be available on a moment’s notice, including real estate agents and taxi drivers, who are now being located, tracked and routed via their iPhones
  • The green cloud: data centers, which consume 5% or more of America’s power, are finally becoming more energy efficient
  • The return of hardware: software companies have embraced building their own hardware, for consumers and for their own secret uses
  • Immigration reform: after the election, everyone suddenly agreed to let in more immigrants. Folks of all sorts will come, but what they’ll have in common is plenty of pluck, which is just what this country needs.
  • Slow investing: spread-it-wide-and-thin investing is going out of fashion, as investors become more patient and more committed.
  • The hacker way: businesses are worrying less about avoiding mistakes, organizing themselves to be fast and resilient rather than risk-averse.

The more important question is what’s next in 2013, especially in the real estate market. As we predicted last October, real estate is increasingly becoming the main reason economists are optimistic about an overall U.S. recovery. Will the market keep improving? We’ll dig into that question soon.

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