If this year had a single theme, it would be rebirth.
Five years after the dot-com meltdown, the Internet's technologies, industries and culture are showing a kind of vigor and inspiration not seen since the 1990s.
Digital communities and interactive technologies are thriving as never before. The long-predicted convergence of television and computer technologies is finally taking place. At the same time, a generation weaned on the Internet is coming of age and inspiring social revolution on the Web.
Although Google's moves are cited most often as technology harbingers, many other important developments can be found in such diverse areas as digital photography, automobiles and cutting-edge technologies like spintronics. Opportunities have spread around the globe, leading countries such as India into a technology renaissance.
Success also breeds competitive animosities, however, and the resulting disputes have taken a predictable path to Washington.
India's good fortune created new calls to rescind the controversial H-1B foreign labor program, for example. Appeals were made elsewhere in government to address issues such as identity theft, broadband's expansion and patent reform. In light of the Supreme Court's ruling against Grokster and other networks, file-sharing technologies were also disputed.
For the technology industry, all of this translates to disruption--and companies have responded in kind. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard underwent major reorganizations at their most senior ranks. The rush to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape also led to some conciliatory moves that seemed impossible only a few years ago: Microsoft buried the hatchet with RealNetworks and even reached out to hackers to help address security problems.
But the most surprising alliance of all was Apple Computer's decision to build computers with chips from Intel--the microprocessing half of the "Wintel" duopoly. If nothing else of note occurred in 2005, that decision alone would be reason enough to see that the technology universe has become a vastly different place.
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