Crystal balls and calendars: A look back, and forward, at the top tech news

January 2nd, 2013

It's little surprise to anyone that 2012 will go down as being a year that saw technology tighten its hold on the imagination with the U.S. public. Anything from how the election was covered to the way consumers handled their holiday shopping was impacted by technology this year. And next year? That looks to be another big year in technology. Here is a look back at the tech developments of this past year and a look forward to what might be the important tech stories of 2013.

Obama's grip on election tech

Technology really showed its stuff during the 2012 presidential election and President Barack Obama benefited. Relying on a get-out-the-vote high-tech project, dubbed Narwhal, Obama managed to target his campaign to those voters whom he most needed. Narwhal also excelled at getting in touch with Obama's core voters, a voting base a large number of pundits doubted would rush towards the polls in high-enough numbers to steer Obama to victory. The pundits, famously, were wrong. Obama won within an Electoral College romp, thanks to strong turnouts among young and minority voters, those voters that campaign staffers frequently contacted in the Narwhal program. The Romney campaign boasted their own high-tech voter-contact system, Project Orca. Orca, though, famously failed. To punctuate things ironically, the system even went down on election day. The achievements of Narwhal and the failure of Orca isn't the reason why Obama was elected into a second term. But the Obama campaign's mastery of technology certainly didn't hurt.


Technology is changing how the U . S . battles terrorists. Unmanned Predator drones made news headlines in 2012, especially as their deadly strikes claimed several of the United States' most-wanted terrorists. The drones, though, were not without critics. Some worried they would be employed to spy on law-abiding citizens. Others were concerned that drone strikes routinely claim the lives of civilians along with terrorists and other military goals. What's not up for debate, though, is that unmanned drones continue to be an essential weapon in the United States' war on terror. As drone technology grows, their accuracy and effectiveness stand to increase.

The coming year

What tech developments should you expect in 2013? First, expect consumers to spend more money on their technology. Tablets, smart phones and laptop computers remained hot gifts throughout the holidays. There's not any reason to think this will change. Expect, too, for people to continue to steer away from desktop computing. Today's consumers prefer computing away from home, depending upon their tablets and smartphones to surf the net, read e-mail messages, watch movies and enjoy their favorite songs. This is a trend that is only growing stronger. Finally, expect technology to continue to spread around the world in 2013, establishing itself in numerous emerging countries. This, by the way, can be considered a positive thing. Technology improves cultures. Putting powerful technology at the disposal of consumers in emerging countries can truly be a plus on the path toward development.