Last week, I talked to an advertising class at the University of South Carolina. One of the things I mentioned was the need to stay up-to-date on the changes in the communications industry. 

In preparing for my talk, I started a list of the things that have changed during my career —  roughly 20 years of being a creative professional.*

The list was really, really long. I've included a couple of links for all the really obscure stuff:

  • Aldus Pagemaker became Adobe Pagemaker. Then was gone.
  • Quark Xpress was everywhere. Adobe InDesign arrived. Then Quark was gone.
  • Individual Adobe applications became the Creative Suite bundle. And then the Creative Cloud suite.
  • Apple was dying. Now Apple is everywhere.
  • PDF.
  • Bitmap fonts. Adobe Postscript Type 1 fonts. TrueType. Open Type.
  • The Internet became a thing.
  • Email became a thing. Followed by HTML Email. And spam.
  • Netscape rises. Internet Explorer kills Netscape. Internet Explorer is awful and dies a slow and painful death.
  • Web 2.0 (Which if we are honest, isn’t really different than Web 1.0.)
  • Standards-based web design. Javascript. CSS.
  • The search engine.
  • Social media. All of it. MySpace. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Flickr. Instagram. Vine. Google+. Snapchat. Periscope. Meerkat. And lord knows how many more failures I’ve forgotten about.
  • Macromedia Flash. Adobe Flash. Who needs Flash?
  • Streaming video. Real Player. Quicktime. YouTube.
  • Floppy disks. SyQuest 44. SyQuest 88. Zip. Zip 250. Jaz. CD-R. Flash drive. Cloud storage.
  • DVD. Blu-Ray. 
  • Avid. Premiere. Final Cut. Final Cut X. Premiere.
  • Blogging.
  • Powerpoint. Sigh.
  • Digital photography arrives. Eventually becomes affordable. And now we have camera phones.
  • Royalty-free stock photography CDs. Replaced by websites when bandwidth gets fast enough.
  • TV has completely changed. Standard Definition. High Definition. 3-D. Now Ultra HD.
  • The smartphone. Palm and BlackBerry rise. iPhone and Android kill them.
  • Mobile apps.
  • Responsive design.
  • Wacom Tablets.
  • iPads and other tablets.
  • eBooks and Kindles.
  • Black and white screens. Hundreds of colors. Thousands of colors. Millions of colors. Retina displays.
  • Short-run digital printing.
  • Bluelines and photographic platemaking gets replaced with much more efficient computerized versions. (But I still I miss the smell of bluelines.)
  • The eternal promise of variable data printing.

All of this change and disruption occurred in such a short period of time. And this is just in one industry. My interest in design started when I was in college in the mid-1990s at the beginning of all this change. The designers and communicators that are thriving today are the ones that are able to change and adapt constantly.

Looking ahead at the next 20 years, the only thing I’m 100% sure of is that the world isn’t going to get less complex. For designers and communicators, the ability to evolve and adapt is going to be more critical to success than ever.

* I seriously feel old.