The Decade in Culture

Posted by Maria Popova

designCultureTen years of trucker hats, bad TV, and social media.

It's been a colorful decade in culture. Green became the new black, black became the new white, and the global economy slipped into red. The emergence of i-everything brought on an evolved understanding of "we" as collaboration, crowdsourcing and the social web unleashed a new era of relating to the world.2000Y2K doesn't end the world. Instead, the dot-com bubble peaks, then bursts, wiping out $5 trillion in market value of tech companies.The ILOVEYOU virus spreads across the world and Vermont makes it legal for same-sex couples to declare love in civil unions.The final Peanuts comic strip is published after creator Charles Schulz dies.The preliminary draft of the Human Genome Project is finished.The American Legacy Foundation launches "truth," considered the most successful anti-smoking campaign in history.Al Gore wins the Presidential election. Wait, he loses.2001September 11th devastates the world.Kofi Annan wins the Nobel Peace Prize.Wikipedia launches, forever changing the face of human knowledge.The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.The Prius becomes an icon of the mainstream green movement.Apple introduces the iPod, revolutionizing music culture, and a new generation of white-earbudded youngsters takes to the streets.The world's first self-contained artificial heart is implanted.George Harrison dies, leaving only two living Beatles.Halle Berry becomes the first black female actor to win a major Academy Award. She cries a lot.2002Ashton Kutcher inflicts trucker hats on the world.Bush decides to fix the fact that only a fifth of high school graduates have mathematical proficiency by signing the No Child Left Behind act, a mathematical catch-22 requiring that 100 percent of schoolchildren score above the mean.Creative Commons releases the first set of licenses, championing a new breed of copyright law for creative culture.NASA discovers water ice on Mars.The Queen Mother dies at the age of 101.Norah Jones's Come Away With Me becomes the most successful jazz album in history.American Idol debuts, unleashing a new era of reality TV celebrity.2003The Human Genome Project concludes, having sequenced 99 percent of the human genome to 99.99 percent accuracy.Darfur is declared to be in a state of humanitarian emergency.The Concorde makes its last commercial flight and the last Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the production line.The United States and United Kingdom invade Iraq, beginning the most socially, politically, and culturally controversial war in history (you know, from some people's perspective).Barry White, Johnny Cash, and Nina Simone leave music culture better than they found it.Italian bandits pull off the biggest diamond heist in history.Martha Stewart goes to prison, and makes a poncho.2004Mark Zukerberg launches Facebook from a Harvard dorm room, and later proceeds to drop out and become a billionaire.Justin Timberlake cups Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction on national television.All the cool kids have Gmail invites, and the world gets a foxy new favorite open-source browser.Banksy walks into the Louvre and hangs a smiley-face Mona Lisa.The Da Vinci Code takes over the world and keeps an entire industry afloat.Accounts of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse jab a dagger in the public eye.The finale of Friends marks the end of a TV era.Morgan Spurlock spends 30 days eating McDonald's food, supersizes the nation's awareness of fast food's ills.John Kerry loses the presidential election as Michael Moore premieres Fahrenheit 9/11 at Cannes to a 20-minute standing ovation, the longest in the festival's history.2005Al Gore releases An Inconvenient Truth, awakening a generation to our ecological responsibility.The United States and Australia are the only two countries not to sign the Kyoto Protocol.Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans, and oil prices skyrocket.YouTube breaks the dawn to a new age of entertainment.Live 8 aims to make poverty history with 10 simultaneous blockbuster concerts around the world.Lance Armstrong wins an unprecedented seventh consecutive Tour de France title before retiring.The One Laptop Per Child program introduces the $100 laptop, offering self-empowered learning to the world's poorest children.The Colbert Report premieres and the Pope dies (unrelated).2006Merriam-Webster makes Google a verb.Michael Pollan writes a book, and gives us constructive indigestion.Warren Buffet donates more than $30 billion, 83 percent of his wealth, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making it the largest charitable donation in history.Saddam Hussein is hanged for crimes against humanity and Slobodan Miloševi? dies in his cell in The Hague, where he is held for the same.Pluto is no longer a planet.Microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus receives the Nobel Peace Prize.The TED conference makes publicly available two decades of talks by the world's greatest minds.Wii like to play.2007Apple introduces the iPhone and a new era of personal computing begins.Sydney completely shuts off its lights for an hour in a political statement against climate change.Tay Zonday covers the web in Chocolate Rain.The first gay rights bill is brought to the House floor for a vote.Twitter launches. No one notices.The final book of Harry Potter becomes the fastest-selling book in history with 11 million copies sold in 24 hours.The Writers Guild of America goes on a strike against decades of unfair compensation by studios.Radiohead releases In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-will album download and enters the Billboard Charts at number one, making a bold case for a new music industry business model in the age of free.2008The price of a barrel of petroleum hits $100 for the first time. In a tragicomic bout of irony, Big Three auto execs fly private jets to Washington, D.C. to beg for taxpayer bailout funds.Bill Gates retires, leaving Microsoft for philanthropy.Michael Phelps wins a record-breaking eight Olympic Gold Medals in Beijing.Heath Ledger dies, and many declare him the James Dean of our generation.Lehman Brothers, the largest dealer in the U.S. Treasury securities market, goes bankrupt.More than 131 million people race to the polls, the highest number in American electoral history. Hope, Change, Obama.2009The Large Hadron Collider tries to find the God particle.Twitter blows up, illustrates the power of citizen journalism in Iran's presidential elections.Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize to a global mixed reaction.Swine flu is declared a global pandemic.The Charter for Compassion offers hope for a transnational, transreligious global community.An airplane lands on the Hudson and everyone lives.Michael Jackson's death breaks millions of hearts and, nearly, the internet.Guest blogger Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired U.K. and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.