Top 5 Internet Technologies of 2022

Breakthroughs in Internet technology aren’t rare, but they don’t come often either. I think we’ve seen two big turning points in 2022: generative AIRising to the forefront of internet culture this year, and the beginning of a movement away from centralized social media federal social program. Unless you count the rise of WebAssembly, 2021 has had no turning points. But both generative AIs have a good chance and federated social software will be truly disruptive technologies for the rest of this decade.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the continued resurgence of web technologies. What impressed me last year was Figman’s web-based design tool; This year it was web-based development tools – aka “Cloud IDEs”. Even with the nascent metaverse, most of the metaverse technology gaining attention this year is web-based, despite Meta looking to make it the next mobile web.

So let’s get to it. I pulled through all the articles I wrote this year (62 of them!) and also reviewed my social media following in 2022 to come up with the following five technologies.

1. Generative AI

If 2021 was the year of Web3, then generative artificial intelligence is the “new Web3” in 2022. It started with DALL-E 2, which was announced in April, and was later released as a private beta by OpenAI (the company’s co-founder) in July. By Elon Musk, who is sure to be named TIME’s ‘Man of the Year’ – sometimes he goes to the villains, remember). DALL-E 2 is an image generation service powered by deep learning models, and it was a significant step up from the first version released last year. It was opened to everyone in September and released as an API just last month.

The first real competition for DALL-E came in July, when a company called Midjourney released its own text-to-image generator of the same name.

The AI ​​hype really picked up in August, with the release of Stable Diffusion – another deep learning text-to-image generator. Unlike DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Stable Diffusion has a permissive licensing structure. The company behind it, Stability AI, stated that “Creative ML is released under the OpenRAIL-M license” – not fully open source, but allowing both commercial and non-commercial use.

We’ve seen a number of changes in generative AI this year, including text-to-video (Runway and Google’s Imagen Video and Phenaki), text-to-3D (Nvidia’s GET3D and Google’s 3DiM), speech-to-text (OpenAI- ‘s Whisper) , and of course text-to-code (OpenAI’s Codex, which powers GitHub Copilot). Although Copilot actually launched last year, this year Microsoft announced that it has become a core part of its developer tools. Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, said at this year’s Build conference that GitHub Copilot “offers about 35% of the code in popular languages ​​like Java and Python today.”

Finally, we have OpenAI’s ChatGPT, released this month, which is a chatbot for generative artificial intelligence.

2. Mastodon and Fediverse

After news broke in late April that Elon Musk’s offer to acquire Twitter had been accepted, many Twitter users began reactivating their old Mastodon, Tumblr, and other social media accounts. But by the end of the year, there was only one alternative for Twitter: Mastodon.

When Musk finally took over Twitter in late October, he immediately made drastic changes after months of trying to get out of the deal. This led to a complete migration to Mastodon that continues to this day. The open protocol underlying Mastodon, ActivityPub, allows it to “federate” with completely different social networks, such as Pixelfed (a photo-sharing site) and PeerTube (a YouTube clone). This new open web platform was nicknamed “fediverse”.

What’s interesting about this is that fediverse represents a return to decentralized social networking, not unlike the first wave of blogging in the early 2000s. While this turning point away from centralized platforms is far from ultimately spelling the end of Twitter, it has made decentralized software attractive to developers again. A month after Musk took over, Twitter’s developer platform team was decimated (ironically, I wrote about this a month ago, cautiously optimistic that Twitter was back on track with developers). Simply put, Twitter has nothing left for developers, thus creating a greenfield for the fediverse. Watch this space in 2023!

3. Cloud IDEs

In September, the internet industry deal of the year happened – the popular browser-based design tool Figma, which I chose as one of my top technologies of 2021, was sold to Adobe for about $20 billion. After that, attention turned to perhaps the last category of productivity tool yet to fully transition to the web: integrated development environments (IDEs).

Later that month, Ivan Burazin, co-founder of Codeanywhere, a web-based IDE product, told me that almost all external developers will soon be using Cloud IDEs. In-house developers will have more and more options, although this will be a feature of enterprise tools like Microsoft Visual Studio.

I also spoke with Shawn Wang, aka @swyx, Shawn Wang, who told me that we’re about a decade away from developers ditching desktop files entirely—that will be “the end of localhost.”

If you’re interested in this trend, check out my interviews with the founders of StackBlitz – “The development analogy of what Figma does for design,” according to Eric Simons, co-founder of StackBlitz and CodeSandbox.

4. Open Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg’s company has continued to dominate the so-called “metaverse” discussion this year, following its giant turnaround and name change to Meta in October 2021. However, there was still little evidence of what the Meta platform would become by the end of 2022. will actually be built with

On the contrary, it has been a year of solid progress in the open, web-based metaverse, including projects such as the Open Metaverse Collaboration Group (OMI), the Metaverse Standards Forum (an initiative of the Khronos Group), and various Web3-branded virtual worlds. Decentraland, Voxels, Webaverse, etc.).

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the open metaverse is how it has changed online culture. In June, I chatted with Jin, a leading open metaverse developer. We met in a 3D virtual space at Mozilla Hub because Jin is a pseudonym, meaning he hasn’t revealed his real identity online. It turns out that this is an important feature for an open metaverse. According to Jin, “pseudonymous work will be huge in the virtual economy, avatars are inherently a privacy-preserving technology.” The moniker also reflects key influences on Jin and others like him, including gaming culture, the first wave of online VR headsets (powered by Oculus), cryptocurrencies, and “Vtubers” (short for “Virtual YouTubers,” online entertainers who use the virtual). avatars).

2022 saw the birth of a number of exciting new metaverse startups and projects, including Croquet and Third Room. Nvidia Omniverse, which I picked as one of my top products last year, has also made further progress with its toolset. While Meta made some encouraging noises in October — most notably with the announcement of the new Meta Quest Pro VR headset — 2022 proved that an open metaverse would be a viable alternative to Zuckerberg’s vision going forward.

5. Decentralized Storage

Web3 was arguably the biggest tech story of the past year; or as I put it in the annual news roundup, “2021 Hype Ball Gathering Momentum.” However, things took a turn for the worse as it was not difficult to predict a cryptocurrency crash in 2022. But while development on blockchain technologies eventually slowed, Web3 still had pockets of innovation. One was the continued progress made in decentralized storage.

Perhaps the most effective of these solutions is the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). As The New Stack writer Jake Ludington pointed out in September, while IPFS is typically used to host media assets for blockchain applications and NFTs, its utility extends beyond Web3 applications. “The decentralization built into IPFS is accessible to any application development and has the potential to transform the way web applications are built and scaled,” Ludington said. He suggested developers use IPFS instead of sticking with the HTTP stack.

Another interesting project is the almost famous Internet Computer (ICP), which is something between a blockchain and a decentralized cloud provider. It is not a storage solution per se, as it consists of independent data centers cooperating with each other (like a peer-to-peer file sharing network). According to an interview I conducted with the organization that runs ICP, developers can host an entire application there—which is claimed to eliminate the need for a traditional cloud service like AWS.

Arweave and Filecoin are two other solutions worth looking into. Even the Internet Archive, the modern treasury of the Internet, is actively exploring decentralized storage solutions.

Your suggestions?

This top 5 list is of course completely subjective, although I promise I haven’t consulted ChatGPT or any other generative AI. If you have other suggestions for the best internet technologies of the year, I’d love to hear them — tag me on fediverse to start a discussion (well, Twitter if necessary).

Note: The featured image for this post was created by Stable Diffusion and reads “Generative AI is taking over the internet, but humans are moving to mastodons.”

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