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I need some serious last-minute help with an assignment for my technology class. I’m a freshman this year taking a whole bunch of courses, since I’m not too sure what I’m passionate about yet. This particular technology class, which is technology in the sociology department, is a lot more challenging than the online syllabus led me to believe.

Earlier this week, we were assigned a short paper on some of the latest trends in digital products, services, and/or transformations predicted for 2018. I have no idea where to begin. Google Scholar and JSTOR databases don’t have the most interesting sources, and a lot are really complex.

Where should I turn for some examples?

Unfortunately, academic peer-reviewed journals and related databases probably won’t be the best for this type of project. Those resources primarily include retroactive studies with conclusions only going so far as recommending future research directions and/or proposing important implications. Most researchers typically resist prediction because it can very easily transform into speculation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find relevant authorities that do make such projections.

Two years ago, researchers at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reported that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, which meant 250 new devices would connect to the Internet every second to reach what they considered a conservative estimate. That figure is an order of magnitude larger than the human population, despite even its own seemingly exponential growth. You could say the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major trend to watch well into the future. Liaison Technologies, one major player in the technology industry, recently declared that IoT is “a catalyst for everything else.”

The rise of IoT shouldn’t be surprising since we’re all increasingly surrounded by connected devices on a regular basis. Consider Apple’s iWatch, Roomba’s robotic vacuums, and Tesla’s fully autonomous vehicles. Whole industries have been taken by storm. Charlie Taylor at The Irish Times reported that more spending than ever is expected on IoT in 2018. You can rest assured that the trend is a goldmine.

Another major trend to highlight is the ongoing decentralization of structures outside of traditional business. You might not be familiar with what that means. Here’s the long and short of it. Centralization–as the name would suggest–refers to consolidating all or most of the decision-making power in the hands of a select few. Decentralization is the antithesis of that in which the decision-making power is widely distributed to the masses. Traditionalist thinking relied heavily on centralization, whereas decentralization was long considered too revolutionary.

Fortunately, things have changed as rapidly as the technologies and people that drive them. The latest trend is the decentralization of value through cryptography and blockchain technology. At first, blockchain technology seemed to only appeal to those involved with cryptocurrency. However, it’s become increasingly clear that the technology can be universally beneficial to coding and indexing value (i.e., data) of any kind, not only currencies. Writer Timo Honsel wrote a thoughtful piece discussing exactly that on Blockchain At Berkeley, a non-profit research institute hosted at UC Berkeley.

These two topics alone cover extraordinary ground. Consider exploring them extensively, and you shouldn’t have a problem creating a compelling paper.

“Imaginations are boundless and opportunities are infinite.” — Mehul Nayak

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