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Hi there! On Tech is back from our vacation break. I read books, went for walks, ate far too many desserts and watched a million episodes of “Midsomer murders. “I hope you had a chance to reflect and recharge too.

For our first newsletter of the new year, I asked a selection of journalists from the New York Times to predict technological developments that they believe will be big in 2021.

Miriam Jordan, national immigration correspondent:

I’ve seen firsthand how the pandemic made immigrants more receptive to smartphone apps like Remitly and TransferWise to send money home. There may be no going back to more traditional wire transfer payments.

In August, I spoke to Mexican immigrant workers who harvest tomatoes on the east coast of Virginia. Due to the coronavirus risks, her employer had limited her daily trips to the fields and to her dormitories. The workers could not make the usual visits to tiendas or shops where the staff usually help with money transfers that helps family members at home pay for groceries, education, clothing, and consumer goods.

I remember a guest worker showing me an app for one of the digital transfer companies on his phone and telling me it worked well and was cheaper.

Greg Bensinger, Member of the editorial board of the New York Times:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have stated that they are suddenly concerned about Americans’ privacy rights online. I look forward to seeing you put your money where your mouth is by rolling out in 2021 comprehensive federal data protection laws.

Is that a pipe dream? Yes. But if something good comes from the backlash against tech companies, I hope consumers are have more control about the rights to their own data.

Cecilia Kang, Technology and Regulatory Policy Reporter:

I have no reason to believe The Biden administration will take the pressure off the technology sector than its predecessor. His decision to head the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice will most likely continue to pursue the cartel cases against Facebook and Google. There could also be lawsuits against other large tech companies.

An important legal shield for Internet businesses, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will be at the top of the list of technical-political battles for 2021. And I can’t wait to sit in the courtroom as the government antitrust lawsuits unfold against Google and Facebook. It’s rare to hear top technology managers and their rivals bring their cases to the public. The Legal theories are also interesting and could set precedents for the internet.

But I have to wait a while to satisfy my curiosity. The judge for Google Antitrust said The process begins … in 2023!

Kevin Draper, Sports reporter:

The pandemic will most likely encourage more sports venues to require fans to leave out paper tickets and money and instead download an app from the team, stadium or Ticketmaster. In one example of the potentially expanding digital shift, people looking to purchase cash concessions at the Atlanta Falcons stadium are already having to go to kiosks Convert money to a prepaid debit card.

Mobile payments and tickets reduce scalping and ticket fraud, speed up purchases and provide security officers with information about who is in the building. However, if fans are forced to use apps, they can be more easily tracked or hacked, except for people who do so I cannot or do not want to use credit cards or smartphones and denied people who like to collect ticket stubs – as well Sports halls of fame.

Brian X. Chen, Personal Technology Columnist:

I believe that in 2021 we will have an even stronger focus on software and internet services that help us go through screens and less focus on gadgets.

Video chat apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and Webex have been around for years, but they have been forced to improve quickly when so many people flocked to them during the pandemic. We’ll likely see more products that are similar to Peloton and Apple Fitness + Virtualize fitness classes. I’ve seen farmers market merchants that accept mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Square, and I see them stop working solely with cash – if at all – for a long time.

Note that none of the above is about hardware. Our phones, laptops and other devices are already very powerful, so the focus will be on the capabilities we get through software and services.


  • An unusual step for organizing workplaces: Unions are relatively rare among employees of large technology companies. But my colleague Kate Conger reported that more than 225 Google employees said they did They formed a union with the aim of building structure for employee activism on issues such as wage discrimination and technology ethics.

  • Technology that really helped in 2020: At his annual Good Tech Awards, The Times’ Kevin Roose praised less announced technology projects that made a difference. These include a volunteer group helping to improve government technology, community-based efforts to educate color communities about potentially harmful technology, and party-style games to keep Kevin sane.

  • The Echoes of FarmVille: The goofy farming game everyone played on Facebook in the early 2010s was discontinued last week. My colleague Daniel Victor wrote that the techniques that made FarmVille popular – including nagging notifications to friends and encouragement to check back daily to tend your crops – are “now.” to be mimicked from Instagram to QAnon. ”

Check out this series of Cats navigating an obstacle course made of plastic cups. Extra cuddling for the extremely indecent flounder.


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