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We're into the mobile social fin de siècle. ~Alexis Madrigal


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The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal pines for something new:

The question is, as it has always been: now what?

Decades ago, the answer was, "Build the Internet." Fifteen years ago, it was, "Build the Web." Five years ago, the answers were probably, "Build the social network" or "Build the mobile web." And it was in around that time in 2007 that Facebook emerged as the social networking leader, Twitter got known at SXSW, and we saw the release of the first Kindle and the first iPhone. There are a lot of new phones that look like the iPhone, plenty of e-readers that look like the Kindle, and countless social networks that look like Facebook and Twitter. In other words, we can cross that task off the list. It happened.

What we've seen since have been evolutionary improvements on the patterns established five years ago. The platforms that have seemed hot in the last couple of years -- Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest -- add a bit of design or mobile intelligence to the established ways of thinking. The most exciting thing to come along in the consumer space between then and now is the iPad. But despite its glorious screen and extended battery life, it really is a scaled up iPhone that offers developers more space and speed to do roughly the same things they were doing before. The top apps for the iPad look startlingly similar the top apps for the iPhone: casual games, social networking, light productivity software.

He says there are three big innovation narratives -- The Rise of the Cloud, Big Data, and Daily Deals -- to point out that fascinating technology startups, companies who want to allow regular people to do new stuff in their daily lives, are few and far between:

When's the last time you saw an iPhone app do something that made you go, "Whoa! I didn't know that was possible!?"

Cue Jeff Hammerbacher's awesome line about developers these days:

"The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads."

Internet technology is supposed to change our lives.

Is the best we can do a Lana Del Rey Tumblr?

No. We can do better.

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