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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Hype and hi-tech

29 July 2014
3D printer creating figurine

Predicting the future shape of technology is a fool's game. If you believed the forecasts of future-gazers when I was growing up, we would all be taking holidays on the moon, consuming our meals in tablet form and enjoying a 10-hour working week by now.

And even very recent predictions seem to be going awry. Figures last week from Apple showed iPad sales slowing, and growth in the overall tablet market is looking less than spectacular, so the idea that the conventional desktop PC is in its death throes now seems to be a bit oversold.

Nevertheless, Radio 4's The World At One is taking the brave step of trying to forecast the hot technology trends that we all need to know about. Over the next few days, the programme will look at 3D printing, drones, unmanned cars and the internet of things and ask how these advances might change our lives.

But to inject a healthy dose of scepticism, the series begins today with a look at the Hype Cycle. This is an exercise carried out by the research firm Gartner which has a theory about the way new technology arrives in our lives. The firm describes five stages through which new ideas progress - the innovation trigger, the peak of inflated expectations, the trough of disillusionment, the slope of enlightenment, and finally the plateau of productivity.

Last year's Hype Cycle had 3D printing and wearable user interfaces at an overexcited peak though both were expected to mature into profitable technologies. Biometric identification and speech recognition were much further along, climbing up onto that plateau of productivity.

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National roaming - a bad call?

3 July 2014
David Cameron with mobile phone
Difficulty getting a signal?

It sounds a great idea - allow anyone finding it difficult to connect to their mobile phone network to roam to another network to make a call.

It's called national roaming but from what I'm hearing the mobile operators will fight tooth and nail to stop something they regard as impractical and counterproductive.

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Tweeting the World Cup

27 June 2014
Dove released at the World Cup opening ceremony

This has been the week the United States finally got football - or soccer, as they still insist on calling it.

As the USA team progressed to the knock-out stage, the story has led the breakfast TV shows and been the subject of a diatribe by right-wing columnist Ann Coulter, who sees US interest in the game as a sign of the nation's moral decay.

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Android everywhere at Google I/O

26 June 2014
Google i/o

Put a couple of thousand developers from around the world in a huge hall, show them some under the bonnet improvements in the software tools they use every day, and pause after each sentence to bathe in the applause. That's the basic recipe for Google I/O which is aimed at the development community, not at consumers.

But Google knows that these days the world is watching too - so it has to sprinkle the conference's opening keynote with a little stardust in the form of some stunts and a few product announcements. Two years ago a live demo with skydivers jumping out of planes and streaming video from Google Glass set the bar very high indeed.

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Can you make a giant dance? Facebook tries to innovate

25 June 2014
Facebook sign, Menlo Park

Big established companies that dominate their industries often find it gets harder to innovate - so is Facebook now about to face that same problem? I've just spent three hours at the social network's headquarters trying to work out whether it can stay ahead as it grows ever bigger.

Life must look good if you're one of the nearly 4,000 people who turn up for work at the sprawling campus in Menlo Park in California, where the central plaza Hacker Square is dotted with cafes and people stroll in the sunshine toting their laptops as they head for the next meeting.

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Uber and Indiegogo - tales of disruption

24 June 2014
Indiegogo Ping-pong table

It's a word despairing teachers use to describe the class troublemakers, but in Silicon Valley "disruptive" is what everyone wants to be.

The whole theory behind disruptive innovation - cheaper, sometimes lower-quality technologies which come along and destroy the business models of established industries - is a subject of ferocious academic debate at the moment, after an article in the New Yorker questioned the concept.

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Will the British take to Google Glass?

23 June 2014
Prince Charles tries on Google Glass

It has been the most talked-about new gadget of the last year (not always in a good way) and now Google Glass is coming to the UK.

Anyone with £1000 to spare can order the wearable computer that delivers smartphone information into a screen above your right eye. Then they can reach their own conclusion about whether it is the future of communication - or computing's equivalent of the Sinclair C5.

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California dreaming: London's hi-tech aspirations

16 June 2014
Boris Johnson at London Technology Week launch

London is blowing its tech trumpet in a big way this week.

Boris Johnson, along with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the venture capitalist Sir Michael Moritz, have just launched London Technology Week - a series of events designed to boost the reputation of the capital as a technology cluster. And if you were to believe some startling research commissioned for the week, London is already hitting it out of the park.

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The $7m question - how did a broke Icelander create a world-beating app?

13 June 2014
QuizUp logo

In a luxury hotel north of London yesterday you could find one of the wealthiest and most influential tech crowds ever assembled.

There was the chairman of Google, the chief executives of many of Europe's biggest telecoms firms, politicians from the UK and across Europe, founders of companies ranging from Carphone Warehouse and ARM, to the machine-learning business Deep Mind.

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Uber uber alles?

9 June 2014
Uber app

Imagine a transport business that's under five years old, but is already worth more than airlines like Easyjet or British Airways, or delivery services like TNT or Britain's Royal Mail.

You might think this was a new budget airline, or perhaps a service offering the promise of rocket trips into space - but instead it's a good old fashioned minicab firm.

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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