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Fun Size for 1/5/24: Top tech trends of 2023

Top tech trends of 2023 

As predictably as the ball falling in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, come December, journalists in all fields are inspired (or compelled) to compile lists of the past year’s greatest hits. Fun Size rounds up the top tech trends of 2023 from various sources around the web.

TechCrunch’s favorite apps of 2023 included bite-sized comics and doggie meet-ups, while PC Magazine eulogized the tech that died in 2023. Hasta la vista, Netflix DVDs, Google Glass and Instagram NFTs.

The New York Times’s Style Section called out the top social media trends, from Grimace to girl dinners to delulu. On the serious side, MIT Technology Review cites 2023’s 10 breakthrough technologies and explains why they matter, for good or ill. Among their picks are CRISPR for high cholesterol and mass-market military drones that smaller nations can afford.

Celebrating its silver anniversary, Google released a composite video of its most-searched topics over the past 25 years. If you’re curious about 2023 alone, look here. Not to be outdone, Search Engine Journal’s video features the top 42 most viral videos of all time. Why 42? That is a great question.

Now entering the public domain 

Culture lovers can look forward to a new slate of artworks entering the public domain in 2024. Among these is the first appearance of Mickey Mouse in the cartoon “Steamboat Willie” (1928), which has had its copyright extended four times thanks to powerful lobbying by You-Know-Who. Check out the beautiful, advent-style calendar, courtesy of Public Domain Review, for some top picks, including works by Picasso, Tolkien and H.G. Wells.

NY Times sues Microsoft over copyright abuse 

In December, the New York Times sued Microsoft and OpenAI for copyright infringement, claiming the company had used widespread copying of its content to “free-ride on the Times’s massive investment in journalism … to build substitutive products without permission or payment.” Microsoft claims scraping the Times’s site to train language AI models is “fair use.” CNN Business has a concise review of the suit.

Duck face in Dubai 

While some people still travel to expand their cultural horizons, a growing number of tourists are choosing destinations for their social media value, writes Brendan Canavan, in The Conversation. This has led to so-called “selfie gaze” photos, with the traveler in the foreground and the Taj Mahal in the background. Dubai is one example of a travel location many chose solely for its influencer status, says The Guardian.

If we could talk to the animals 

Dr. Doolittle had Polynesia, his polyglot parrot, to teach him how to talk to the animals. Scientific American follows the progress of scientists working with AI to discover how animals talk to each other, from crows to whales. From there, the next step could be human-to-animal communication. As Dr. Doolittle mused, “what a neat achievement that would be.”

Button, button, who’s got the button? 

Among life’s irritations is trying to determine the real download button on a web page crammed with sneaky ads all pretending to be the link you want. has tips on how to spot the real download button on websites.

Less fur, more fungi 

A team of conservation biologists in Italy has an idea to improve how people communicate about conservation: more biodiversity in emojis. Turns out there are 92 animals, 16 plants and just one fungus in the Emojipedia. And the majority of the animals represented are vertebrates, while in the animal world the opposite is true. The story appears at 6:15 in the NPR science podcast Short Wave.

Millions of free-to-use images 

Finding good, free-to-use visuals for illustration can be a challenge, but the Library of Congress is a great place to start. The Library’s website includes a portal to its vast digital collection of images that are free to use and reuse. Literally millions of items–books, newspapers, manuscripts, prints and photos, maps and more– are cataloged, each with its own rights advisory. Plus, the site is just plain fun to browse.

Chevy bot boosts Ford truck 

There are still a few bumps in the road for ChatGPT, which recently recommended a rival’s vehicle on a Chevy dealer’s website. Asked to compile a list of the five best trucks and pick its favorite, the chatbot helpfully shared that many buyers had high praise for the Ford F-150, according to the Detroit Free Press.