Welcome to the October 2023 edition of Top Conversations in Technology, where we break down which topics are leading, rising and falling each month. Our monthly analysis is designed to help technology marketers maximize their relevance and adapt to changing market dynamics. This month’s data focuses on variations in news and blog citation volumes month-over-month (versus September 2023) and year-over-year (versus October 2022).
Misinformation and Disinformation are the name of the game: Halloween may be over but leave it to October to bring us something really frightening: This month’s big movers included both #14 Misinformation (up 32%, from #19) and #19 Disinformation (up 37%, from #29). These discussions were linked to so.much.distrust – fueled by growing permeation of AI, unpatrolled social media sites, and questionable information coming out of multiple war zones. Both topics historically tend to climb in October in advance of U.S. elections, and both hit their last peaks at the start of Russia’s Ukrainian incursion (Misinformation in Feb’22, Disinformation in Mar’22). Scary parallels with the Israel-Hamas conflict.
But the top topics haven’t changed: The top ten conversations were relatively stable from September to October, with a few slight shifts. Artificial Intelligence maintained the top spot despite posting its second month of declines (down 4%), with coverage about increased focus on potential guardrails, and summits to discuss how to craft those in a thoughtful manner. Bitcoin bounced up to #2 (up 14%) tied in part to the FTX/Sam Bankman-Fried trial. It displaced #3 Smartphone (down 13%) and outpaced #4 Cryptocurrencies (up 9%) in the rankings, with the latter also up on news Hamas has used various cryptocurrencies to fund its activities.
From there, #5 Drones (up 7%), #6 Supply Chain (down 6%) and #7 Blockchain (up >1%) held their positions. #8 Cybersecurity (up 9%) moved up one spot to displace #9 E-Commerce (down 12%). #10 Wi-Fi held position (down 0.4%) as did #11 tech-related Compliance (down 2%), #12 Generative AI (down 3%), and #13 Machine Learning (down 6%). #14 Misinformation was the big mover (up from #19). #15 User Experience (down 4%) rounded out the top topics, displaced one spot as Misinformation climbed.
So what else is up? In the wake of a September that showed broad declines in citation volumes, just over half of the topics analyzed (129 of 247) registered gains in October. Only four of those posted gains over 90%, and all were lower-ranked terms. The highest-ranking gainer was #124 Passkey, a topic that has grown in importance due to increased adoption by major players, most recently Google’s moves to embrace passkeys.
Other high-level gainers included:
- #226 Decentralized Trials (up 154%)
- #200 Software-Defined Networking (up 144%)
- #156 Voice Remote (up 97%)
- #203 Process Mining (up 89%)
- #211 Computer Aided Engineering (up 85%)
Looking deeper into the list, there are some noteworthy trends. In addition to Passkeys, #139 Passwordless showed a sizable gain (up 80%), but #74 Multifactor Authentication showed slower growth (up 29%). #64 Quantum Computing posted a 58% gain, as did related topics #134 Qubits (up 53%) and #233 Silicon Photonics (up 75%). #63 Autonomous Vehicles also garnered increased attention (up 41%), largely tied to news of accidents and ongoing issues in pilot cities. Insert meme here of a confused car with a cone on its hood.
What’s Falling: There were slightly fewer decliners than gainers from September to October, with 117 topics losing ground. The highest decliners were low-ranking topics including:
- #247 Utility Computing (down 77%)
- #239 Thermal Monitoring (down 64%)
- #238 Humane Technology (down 59%)
- #222 Storage Attached Network (down 51%)
The only top 100 topic to show a significant drop was #60 Application Development (50%), which was way off its summertime high tied to Artificial Intelligence and Smartphone discussions. All other top 100 topics that posted declines fell by less than 20%. This included a broad swath, from #98 Gig Economy (down 18%) to security-focused discussions like #69 Firewall (down 16%), #26 Encryption (down 15%) and #32 Malware (down 13%). #20 Layoffs fell by 9%, continuing an overall downward trend for the year. #18 Semiconductors (down 8%), #35 Metaverse (down 7%) and #16 5G (down 6%) showed similar trends, with marginal month-to-month shifts but an overall negative linear trend in 2023.
So What, Now What? October was a scary month, not just because of horror movie marathons on Hulu. Artificial Intelligence continues to drive tangential discussions, including its impact on Misinformation and Disinformation coming out of war zones and political unrest. Multiple states are suing Meta for contributing to the youth mental health crisis. UNESCO uncovered that 85% of people are worried about the impact of online disinformation, and 87% believe it has already harmed their country’s politics. Supply chains have yet to recover fully from COVID-era setbacks and are hindered by challenging economic and geopolitical environments. Stressful.
But technology news is not all bad. Apple used its “scary fast” Halloween event to unveil its M3 chip line and new laptops. Scientists at ETH Zurich are working on a way to use chicken feathers for hydrogen fuel cells – and potentially offset a waste product that produces significant CO2 and other problematic gases. The 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three scientists for the discovery and production of quantum dots. And the United Nations announced it will create a plan to “protect access to information … while at the same time protecting freedom of expression and human rights.” So maybe those bits will help offset October’s technology-related FUD factor. You just have to dig a little to find them.
Questions? Comments? See a topic we are not tracking? Please share below, and we will address in future installments.