2018 In Review: An Interesting Year For Geeks

So, 2018 was a weird one for me, and for the world of technology, science and geek culture.

Definitely a busy year for the topics I cover, along with in my own life. Keen to get started, so let’s break it down into the different areas I write about and take a look back over the past 12 months.

Technology

The year started, as it always does for technology, with CES 2018. While I could go ahead and list all the stuff that was announced, from new TVs and wearables to household appliances and concept cars. But what’s more interesting is to embrace the weird, which I did with a top 10 list.

But looking at this amazing event seriously, I got to interview their director of market research to figure out the future of consumer tech.

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Continuing on, I popped over to the Wearable Technology Show, to see what was happening in this emerging area, as health tech is being downsized and electronic textiles are being created by talented students at Nottingham Trent University. In fact, the results of this is solar panels embedded in clothing, to be the potential future of phone charging.

Looking ahead in consumer tech, I was honoured to go along to a CES 2019 media lunch, to look ahead and see the key trends you can look forward to next year. Get excited, as there will be plenty more coverage over the next couple weeks from the big spectacle.

And looking at the connected side of technology, social media has had a bit of a beating this year hasn’t it! One of YouTube’s biggest stars filmed a dead body and compromised the entire platform’s profitability. Twitter went on a mass account-deleting spree to tackle tweetdecking (did an investigation into one such company, Viral inc, myself). And Facebook’s alarming amount of data on its customers and eyebrow-raising levels of intrusion are finally being scrutinised - albeit badly by a bunch of old people.

Science

Several fascinating stories have rocked the world of science, but to streamline this piece, I’m limiting it down to talking about three.

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First. We’ve got to talk about Asgardia - the world’s first space nation. Cryptocurrency-funded and keen to move to the moon in 25 years, this was one of the more fascinating stories I got to tackle, involving a press trip to Vienna and a feature for BBC’s Science Focus magazine. The science behind it was a little thin on the ground, but it was an interesting governmental exercise, as parliamentary meetings took place and we got to see how the politics would work in outer space. Have a read and enjoy.

Second, the UK has signed some new legislation to potentially become the first country in Europe to have a spaceport.

Finally for this section, to leave it on a bit of a sad note, we lost an incredible person in Stephen Hawking. I didn’t know him directly at all, but his work and his words made a huge impact on my life. Here’s my obituary for this scientist.

Geek Culture

Let’s be honest here. The vast majority of my geek culture eye was focussed upon video games, as it’s been a belter of a year for the industry…

Ramping up to the new generation of consoles, you expect to see things calm down on the current crop. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Spider-Man. 

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It’s also been a year that we shone a harsh light on some of the problems in this industry, such as the harsh working hours for developers and the somewhat detrimental publisher oversight seen in games - from micro transactions to the reputation of the company itself leading to poor sales (see: Battlefield V’s sales following launch).

Looking a bit closer to the New Rising Media-related home, there were some good stories here too. I wrote for Kotaku about the explosion of gamer energy supplements, reviewed some incredible games such as 11-11: Memories Retold, Reigns: Game of Thrones and Battlefield V (the latter for Stuff Magazine). Oh, and I also got to interview many of these teams too.

Plus, let’s not forget my trip to the UK’s first free roam VR arena and my chance to get creative - writing a plot for The Last of Us Part II.

Oh, and my twitch stream as well. I know it’s gone quiet over the past couple of months, but it will return in 2019.

Me

And now, we turn to the fourth topic that has crept into this blog over the past few months - myself. 

Yes, I cringe at how super narcissistic that sentence sounds, but as journalling has become an important part of my life over the year, typing out on this blog has proved to be quite a cathartic exercise. Don’t worry, this will be the last time I get so overly personal on here, but I want to impart my knowledge gained in such a short amount of time

As you know, I took a break to tackle my own mental health issues, accelerated by a big moment in my working life. This led me to therapy and a chance to review my own life in a new light - teaching me three lessons in the process.

1. Never forget your friends

I’m not talking that person you believe to be your friend, but isn’t really there. I’m talking the people who have been there through it all. And being “there” doesn’t have to mean always around. All my friends are getting married and having kids - we all rarely see each other (except for D&D).

But I mean the people who will take the time to stop, listen and talk to you. They are invaluable human beings in this world. Never forget them.

2. Be thankful for everything you have

As a fellow dog fanatic with my girlfriend, I love their behaviours - specifically how excited they get over everything they are given, from the grand gestures to the smallest things like walking towards them with intent to pet. This is a behaviour we can all learn from.

We come to expect a lot of what we have in live, but the truth is we are incredibly lucky to have those things. It means a lot that my family invite me out to their dinners. It’s an honour to be introduced to my sister’s son and give the whole uncle thing a crack. I am beyond lucky to have the friends and family I have. It is a privilege to just know my partner, but to be with her is beyond what I could’ve possibly dreamt of.

Easy to lose track of being thankful for everything you have. Never forget to take stock and make those who make you happy aware of just what they do.

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3. Skepticism is healthy

I thought my consistent negative cycle of good feedback (always resorting to asking “what if it goes wrong” rather than accepting it) was an outright negative symbol of my anxiety. But, as it turns out, a little skepticism is a good thing.

Maybe not thinking everything is going to go wrong, but taking things with a pinch of salt and always trust your gut when you feel something may not be as it seems. I learnt that the hard way this year, putting my trust in the wrong people and having my self confidence destroyed when I found out they were lying - the ultimate accelerant that drove me to therapy.

The deceit continues to this day, apparently, according to friends I have who are close to the issue. And to those friends, I thank you for defending me when my name was being dragged through the dirt. It was a messy situation for all involved and, just as I have, I hope the other parties have learnt from it. 

And that is all. 2019 is already shaping up to be pretty tasty for me - a holiday to New York, various press trips and a job. Now if you excuse me, I’m off to countdown with my friends.

Happy new year to one and all. Thank you all.