As 2007 comes to a close, I decided that it was time to have a round-up of the big stories of the year. I like to do this every year as I find that you’ll undoubtedly be surprised: either by a ‘big’ story that somehow managed to pass you by, or just by realising how fast the year has gone. So, how to do this summary of events? After all, a year is a long time in news and news is different everywhere you look!
One of the best barometers of stories that made it big on the Internet is, of course, Digg – the news aggregation service that I do not visit often enough. So, what were the big online stories of 2007? Here they are – in reverse order – according to Digg:
- Stand up for your rights, get arrested – 2007 saw a lot of people arrested for doing, well, nothing in particular. One story that made it big on Digg was a man who was arrested for using $2 bills in BestBuy.
- Net Neutrality – I’m not getting into this now, but here’s a Digg’d picture showing why it’s an important issue.
- The Nintendo Wii – ‘Nuff said.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force ‘terrorists’ and other Bostonian mishaps – In 2007, Boston definitely put the ‘error’ in ‘terror’: overreacting to so-called ‘hoax’ devices, blowing shit up, and prosecuting innocent people is the name of the game here. Refuse to be terrorised, people!
- PirateBay – 2007 was the year where piracy went mainstream. Too many stories to mention.
- Microsoft Surface – Pretty nifty look at the future of personal computing: the end of point-and-click. I first saw this technology being (better) demonstrated in Jeff Han’s 2006 TED talk.
- Paris Hilton – You can’t avoid this woman if you tried… 2007 saw her do ‘time’ in jail and the loss of her inheritance. Oh, and she’s still the most annoying person on the plant.
- Execution of Saddam Hussein – Executed 40 hours before 2007 began, the leaked video of the hanging was undoubtedly the first big online story of 2007.
- iPhone – Love it or loathe it, the iPhone arrived in 2007 to much fanfare. Well, at least it’s getting people thinking about design, right?
- 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 – A vivid depiction of the Streisand effect. This is one story that showed – in no uncertain terms – the power of the Internet as a consumer tool: we don’t want restrictions on our music, our books, our television and (as this story makes abundantly clear) our HD-DVDs. This was the 21st Centuries ‘Digital Revolt’.
- Pakistan’s Political Crisis – From the pressuring of Musharraf to give up command of the Army to the assassination of Bhutto; Pakistan’s politics hasn’t been out of the news all year.
- US Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis – When the US housing bubble eventually popped it wasn’t just the US that suffered – markets around the world felt the impact as banks reeled in their debts.
- Burma Protests – A bad year for democracy in Burma. As tens of thousands of monks took to the streets to protest against a rise in petrol prices (and thus the price of other staples), the military junta cracked down by raiding monasteries and tackling the peaceful protests head on.
- Goodbye, Harry Potter – At last, it’s over!
- Iraq War - The Iraq war was for oil you say? The only surprising part of this ‘revelation’ is that it came from the man who was head of the US Federal Reserve for 18 years – Alan Greenspan.
- Chinese Toy Recall – Made in China took on a new meaning this year as millions of toys made there and exported to the US were recalled for using lead paint, having loose parts, and burning children. Of course “buying local” is still an alien concept to half the western world and a little mishap over some paint isn’t going to make a difference, is it?
- Virginia Tech Massacre – There was more to this story than just another school shooting. Not only did the gunman mail manifesto-style tapes to the media halfway through his rampage; he was also pronounced by a judge to be mentally ill and in need of hospitalisation – yet still managed to legally buy his arsenal of weapons.
- iPhone – Enough already!
Yes, I know that’s only 8 stories, but it was hard picking another two that had world-wide status: was the Madeleine McCann story known throughout the world? Was the saga of Alan Johnston’s capture and eventual release as big in the US as it was here in the UK? Can the rise and rise of Facebook be classed as ‘real-world news’ (it only went fully public in late 2006)? How about 2007′s ‘Data Chernobyl‘? It’s a tough choice.