As we near the end of 2010, the media goes into overdrive to publish lists of the year’s best books, movies, and music. Year-end recaps are a great reminder of where we’ve been and, perhaps, where we’re headed. I wanted to share my own list of AV stories and trends for the year – some of these stories I reported on and others I just watched unfold. Either way, I can certainly say that 2010 was an interesting year in AV!

(1) InfoComm’s STEP program

(Full disclosure: InfoComm is a client of mine, although I’ve had zero involvement with the development of this program thus far.)

The Sustainable Technology Environments Performance (STEP) program was announced at the InfoComm 2010 show in June when most eyes were trained on dazzling 3DTVs and other tech. It wasn’t until after the show that the significance of this program set in, and people began to talk about it. There were many supporters and also some detractors. The naysayers said the program didn’t go far enough, and that AV was abandoning LEED.

I, for one, have faith in Scott Walker. He’s president of Waveguide Consulting and a huge voice on sustainability issues. He’s also heading up the STEP effort for InfoComm. When others were talking and talking about how “something should be done” about LEED and AV, he was actually sitting down with USGBC executives and trying to get their attention to focus on AV.

A program like STEP is a move in the right direction for AV. Our industry is constantly the hangers-on to other larger industries like construction or IT. As with any ambitious effort, the STEP program probably won’t address every single issue or need on its first revision. Also keep in mind that the STEP program hasn’t officially launched yet so exact program details are slim. Let’s give it our full support until the program proves it deserves otherwise.

(2) The Digital Signage Fight (or the DSA vs. the DSF)

The story I wrote for rAVe Pubs about the tug-of-war between the Digital Signage Association (DSA) and the Digital Signage Federation (DSF) is one of my favorite stories this year. The research was the most fun part. People who were present at the announcement were confused as to what had happened, and then others who were involved either couldn’t or wouldn’t talk details.

And it floored me that the DSF didn’t have a PR representative who could answer media questions after the announcement. You can file that move under “bad PR.”

More details have emerged since I wrote that piece in March 2010, but time will still tell whether there’s room for them both. A little competition never hurt anyone and I do wish both organizations the best of luck. However it shakes out in 2011, the tussle will still be fun to watch.

(3) Nerds are finally cool in Las Vegas

Technically, the $8 billion CityCenter in Las Vegas opened in December 2009. I’ve included it in my 2010 recap since many of the AV-related stories didn’t hit trade media pages until this year. There are so many cool technology aspects of CityCenter, one of which is the sheer amount of AV gear on display there.

Say what you will about yet another gigantic hotel in Vegas; I’m not a fan of walking for 20 minutes indoors just to get to my hotel room either. But people who stay at CityCenter’s hotel will get hands-on experience with AV brands like Control4, will dance to systems powered by Crown and transmitted by Fulcrum Acoustic, and will hook up their iPods to listen through JBL ceiling speakers.

The amount of AV exposure at CityCenter is epic, and it’s great to see the amount of PR mileage that everyone’s gotten from it. I’ve wandered around CityCenter and can honestly say that it’s the one place where nerds are cool in Vegas.

(4) The AV industry on Twitter

I’m amazed at the growth and popularity of Twitter within the AV industry. We even have our own hash tag (see #AVtweeps)! Over the course of this year, I’ve compiled a list of nearly 140 AV manufacturers and nearly 70 systems integration firms who are using Twitter.  And those numbers keep growing….

There are some in our industry who saw the value of social media for AV companies very early on, and I’m so glad to see them embrace the newcomers who are eager to learn. (I’m still wary of people who call themselves social media ninjas, gurus, or wizards though.) My work has benefited from the ability to send out a request or question, and have it reach hundreds of AV pros instantly. I can’t wait to see what conversations and opportunities develop via this medium in 2011.

(5) More brands I’ve never heard of
Another great trend I noticed is the number of new or young AV companies I’ve encountered this year. The economy has taken all of us for a ride, and yet the entrepreneurial spirit is very strong. Rather than rolling my eyes at yet another brand I’ve never heard of who is sending me a press release, I’m delighted to see new brands (and new PR people supporting these brands) who are trying to make a difference in a bad economy.

My favorite saying of all time is “A rising tide carries all boats.” I’ve been told of a few companies who will launch in early 2011 and really can’t wait to follow their progress too. We’re all in this together and, yes, there’s room for us all.