2013 was a weird year, right? I've lost count of the number of weird, out-there stories that invaded the news, from Amazon drones to NSA spies. It was the year that saw prolonged protest in Egypt, and the year that new ones kicked off in Kiev and London. It was the year we stumbled on a dead body on Google and hung out with Anonymous activists on the street. And to think – all that happened before Beyoncé even released her new album. Despite the neverending onslaught of headlines, there are a couple of stories that defined the year, and will probably continue to make news in the year to come. In non-chronological order, here's what made the year in news.
Edward Snowden revealed the terrifying extent of NSA and GCHQ snooping and was branded a traitor to America for it. Meanwhile, Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking government documents. Arm yourself with everything you need to know about surveillance and protect yourself from government snoops with our handy ten-point guide.
TOR-savvy drug users wept as the FBI shut down Silk Road, the deepweb marketplace. Conspiracy theories lit up the web with speculations as to just how the feds busted Ross Ulbricht, the shadowy admin of the site – was it the NSA, after all? Soon enough, though, the new Silk Road 2.0 appeared – but who knows how long that’ll stick around for.
The iconic South African leader died in early December, leaving millions all over the globe mourning his death. Dazed spoke to a new generation of South African creative about their memories of the great man, while reporting from Cape Town about the public celebrations taking place in honour of Madiba.
From one universally loved world figure to a far more contentious one – in April, ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away. As Britain mulled over her divisive legacy, Brixton celebrated with a street party and Dazed considered her place in history and her influence on art and fashion, from Derek Jarman’s Hymn For Thatcher to Katherine Hamnett’s anti-Thatcher T-shirt.
THE HOUSING CRISIS HITS
2013 marked the year that the housing crisis hit the mainstream, with rents skyrocketing and gentrification spreading across the capital. Some Londoners have hit back by pointedly occupying luxury showflats, while squats like Grow Heathrow came under increased attack with the criminalisation of squatting. Meanwhile, Dazed charted the rise and fall (and rise) of the art squat, and infamous squats like Matthew Stone’s !WOWOW! collective became archived in exhibitions to inspire a new generation of young, hungry artists.
In June, the Russian parliament voted unanimously to pass a harsh anti-gay law that criminalised LGBT freedom of expression. As gay and lesbian Russians desperately tried to escape, Dazed profiled the artists and activists fighting oppression in the Motherland, including the opening of Moscow’s first gender studies school and the Russia’s only social network for LGBT teens.
Egypt ousted Mohamed Morsi, the president it elected a scant year ago, in a second revolution. As protests continued to rock the country, Dazed met the artists confronting post-revolution pessimism, tripped out in Egypt’s unfinished museum of national culture and surfed the new wave of student anger in Cairo.
Dystopian conspiracy theorists got a headstart this year, with a string of increasingly weird, sinister and out-there tech stories. First Google mapped North Korea, then it bought a genetics company with designer baby patents, invested in a string of sci-fi-esque tech ideas (space elevators, anyone?), and finally mapped a dead body on Google Maps. Meanwhile, drones infiltrated our skies, with Amazon announcing a new drone delivery service as artists declared war on these ever-present eyes in the sky.
In April, an eight-storey garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing over a thousand workers in the biggest sweatshop disaster of its kind. Despite this, sweatshop accidents continue to rise – and months after the accident, there’s still been no sense of closure or justice for the families of the deceased. So, when will clothes factories stop collapsing?
The hacktivism group got serious with a huge range of campaigns, from hacking the EDL, organising global marches and breaking the Syrian media blackout. In a manifesto sent exclusively to Dazed, they told the world to expect more actions. As one anon told Dazed in an exclusive interview, “I feel the biggest triumph is that we held strong to our wish to keep Anonymous leaderless – with the power in the hands of the people who represent it.” Want to join the online activism brigade? Check out our #HackYourFuture tips here.
THE TORIES TRY TO BAN PORN
David Cameron announced the creation of opt-in porn filters for British web users, intended to steer children away from adult material. But what about all the creative work that treads a line between pornography and art? The pro-censorship approach flies at Tory HQ – in November, Conservative HQ tried to wipe all their pre-election speeches from the internet.
When the University of London – the city’s biggest uni, which includes colleges like SOAS and Goldsmiths – started clamping down on protest, they had no idea what they were in for. Students across London organised against the increased police presence on campus with an energy that hasn’t been seen since the 2010 student demos, and re-emphasized the urgency – and importance – of protest.
Follow Zing Tsjeng on Twitter here @misszing