Newly-released figures showed extreme poverty dropped from 12.8 per cent of the global population in 2012 to 9.6 per cent – dipping below the 10 per cent mark for the first time. Rubella was eradicated from the Americas and Ireland legalised same sex marriage.
A new day
The observation deck of the One World Trade Centre opened in Manhattan, nearly 14 years after 9/11, and commercial tenants started moving in. It now stretches over three floors of the building and visitors take a 47-second elevator ride to reach it. “This is called getting knocked down and getting back up, which is what we think of ourselves in this country,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose company Legends Hospitality runs the observation deck.
The world was a little duped when a 22-year-old Australian SEO marketer set up a website offering to ship our ‘enemies’ glitter for AU$10. The ultimate troll IRL product allegedly went viral with over a million visits and over 270,000 social shares in 24 hours, crashing his site and snowballing Reddit, with Mat begging people to stop buying and subsequently selling the site for US$85,000. But in an interview with the New York Observer, he claimed that it was all a hoax to highlight how the media latch on to the concept of something “going viral”.
Black and blue or white and gold? What was your take on the dress that almost broke the internet? It all began when one woman posted a picture on Tumblr asking people’s advice on the colour and it quickly spread to Twitter on the back of dedicated hashtags #teamblueandblack and #teamwhiteandgold. Apparently the tiny cones in the back of our eyeballs perceive colours in different ways depending on our genes, but as Ellen DeGeneres tweeted, “From this day on, the world will be divided into two people. Blue & black, or white & gold.”
North and South Korea allowed a small number of families separated by war more than six decades ago to reunite in an historic period of eased relations between the countries.
NASA found traces of water on Mars. And for the first time in US Open history, the women’s singles finals sold out before the men’s.
End of an era
Some incredible people left this world – including British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, renowned motivational speaker Wayne Dyer, Silicon Valley stalwart Dave Goldberg, much-loved blues singer BB King, and Australian wellness advocate Jess Ainscough, who lost her battle with cancer. All will be dearly missed.
This year saw plenty of sad, difficult and downright horrible events play out across the world. These included devastating terrorist attacks from Turkey to Paris (the latter of which roused one heck of a response from Aussie journo Waleed Aly), the tragic earthquake which killed 8000 and displaced a further 2 million in Nepal, and the refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and Europe, which arrested the world’s attention with the harrowing image of the body of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned at sea.
To freedom and self-expression
Kudos to Caitlyn Jenner for bravely showing the world who she truly is. And applause to Vanity Fair for highlighting this important issue for the world.
We’ll *cheers* to that
Emojis have made our emails, SMS’, Instagram feeds lives a better place – but this was the case even more so when racially diverse emojis appeared on both Apple and WhatsApp Android keyboards this year.
Misty Copeland become the first African-American principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre, singer Kelly Clarkson slammed weight critics, Taylor Swift called out Apple Music for not planning to compensate artists during trial periods leading the company to do a complete 180 on artist royalties (and she essentially did the most awesome tour in the world ever), Viola Davis took home an Emmy and quoted Harriet Tubman about the inequality African-Americans still face, Australian model (and the first professional model in the world with Down Syndrome) Madeline Stuart walked the catwalk at NYFW and Vivienne Westwood drove a tank to David Cameron’s house to protest fracking.
To Volkswagen for the rigging emissions scandal – having fitted cars with software to improve emissions only when being tested, while emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants 40 times the US limit when on the road – which affected 11 million cars across the globe and spread distrust in big business across the globe. Though Volkswagen admitted they’d “screwed up”, more than ever before, big business has a lot of responsibility on its shoulders to (genuinely) make the world a better place.
Pin and buy
Pinterest became shoppable with the long-awaited ‘buy button’. Two million products were instantly shoppable, with brands like Macy’s, Kate Spade, and Nordstrom the early adopters.
Bricks and mortar
In an expected move, Amazon went against the grain by opening a (drum roll please) physical book store on a university campus in Seattle. The first of many, they’re hoping.
Kicks with love
Nike won our nerdy hearts by creating a fully-functional model of the self-lacing shoes worn by Marty McFly in Back To The Future II. A limited number will be auctioned off in 2016, expected to raise more than US$9.4 million for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The Apple Watch arrived, while Tesla introduced a home battery that can charge our home from solar panels. Instagram let anyone advertise on its platform, Chanel created an airport for its spring 2016 collection (designing everything down to flight attendant ties and luggage carts), and some genius somewhere coined #squadgoals.
For a mere US$12, Sanmay Ved, a student at Babson University, became the proud owner of Google for 60 seconds. Well, its domain name at least – proving that even the brightest minds and the biggest of companies have bad days, too. Speaking of Google, a former staffer shared her experience of creating a Google doc with the salaries of her colleagues on it and the management backlash, while the #talkpay hashtag encouraged workers to share their job title and salary on Twitter to help bridge pay gaps.
Big hires and unexpected moves
Martha Stewart sold her company for US$353 million and will stay on as chief creative officer, Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet quit ahead of a merger (“My passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business”), Jack Dorsey tried his hand at being the CEO of two companies, Square and Twitter (Elon Musk’s advice: don’t do it), Hillary Clinton put her hand up for the US presidency, Reddit imploded after a beloved staffer was fired and CEO Ellen Pao stepped down and Donna Karan quit as designer of her own label.
Mark Zuckerberg ramped up Internet.org at the UN, the Australian government began collecting metadata and Google created the umbrella company Alphabet all in the name of not getting too comfortable: “In the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant,” said co-founder Larry Page. Netflix also launched in Australia, meanwhile Adele released her third album – finally – and beat Taylor Swift’s record for most-viewed video in a day.