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Shameless festive family trendspotting

Christmas is always a time for reflection. For technology-obsessives like myself part of that reflection is naturally about the uptake of new innovations by the broader citizenry.

The reasons for this are clear: you spend time with people outside your normal social / professional circle of different ages and backgrounds: your extended family, in other words. From the perspective of near-middle age I get to see what my very young relatives are into, my teenage brother, my parents and wife's parents - all of whom have very different interests and perspectives.

So as I sat munching on the one-many-eth mince pie, and the family gathered at my mother's on Boxing Day I watched the digital citizen paparazzi (my family) record one another and the children eating, drinking and playing and mused on some apparent trends:

  • Pandora beats Last.fm for early majority fitness. If you use MySpace, or blog, or anything you will go for Last.fm - it's more sophisticated. But show anyone Pandora and they are away. My Mother's Boxing Day party was supplied with a soundtrack of The Pogues and Joni Mitchell channels from Pandora. Easy. And you can vote for what you like and it learns your tastes? They love it. People of all ages and types were noting the URL.  


  • Christmas TV is on the way out. Between PVR, NTL On Demand, DVDs and playing with Pandora and websites there wasn't much call for it. I remember when I was a kid, my best friend and I would spend a good hour or two poring over the Christmas TV guide the day it came out, planning our viewing schedules across the three or four available channels. Sounds like ancient history now, eh?


  • Everyone has massive computing and bandwidth power and wants to put it to use. They don't put it quite like that but that's the subtext of what I was hearing. Even the most laggardly laggard I know in my extended family has acquired a Macbook and is loving it. My Mother has 8MB per second broadband WiFi. People flock around screens to see family snaps on Flickr and see where people have moved to or are going on holiday on Google Earth and Pandora and everything in between. My wife's been a bit cut off from the web recently, so I've committed to seem guided tours of the new wonders of the social web with her. During the course of Christmas she's invited various friends and relatives who nearby to join "her computer class". Hmm.


  • Video podcasts rock! I had an iPod a year or so back which subsequently broke and I lost the podcast listening habit. I got a new one for Christmas and I'm in love with them again. And even more in love with video podcasts - how bloody wonderful are they? I want to make some now...


  • Video games are still way more important than social networks to teenage boys. I'm sure I did talk to my younger brother about some other things. I just can't remember what.
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