Screenshot of Wikipedia.org SOPA/PIPA Protest Blackout
CHENDA NGAK /
Looking back on 2012, it's hard to believe that this year brought us two new iPads and a mini, a jump from the edge of space and an Internet blackout.
It was a drama-filled year in the tech world -- starting with twin bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). For one day in January, websites across the Internet blacked out homepages with one message: Stop SOPA and PIPA.
We also witnessed Facebook became a public company, with controversy that included everything from what CEO Mark Zuckerberg wore to investor meetings to the discovery that co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship, sparking allegations that he was dodging taxes.
From controversial YouTube videos to Superstorm Sandy hoaxes, social media inspired emotion, anger and endless jokes in 2012.
In April, a video posted on YouTube told the story of filmmaker Jason Russell's personal mission to take down Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the guerrilla group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The video immediately went viral, but the filmmakers were quickly criticized for spending more money on advocacy and filmmaking than on-the-ground humanitarian work.
The organization defended its methods, but was overshadowed by the arrest of its co-founder Jason Russell, who was spotted naked on the streets of San Diego by gossip website TMZ.
During Superstorm Sandy, Twitter user@ComfortablySmug purposely spread misinformation about the storm in New York City, including rumors that Governor Andrew Cuomo was trapped in Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange was flooded. It was discovered by BuzzFeed that 29-year-old hedge fund analyst Shashank Tripathi was behind the tweets. Tripathi later apologized for making a series of "irresponsible and inaccurate tweets."
Curiosity rover landed on Mars with no incident and is now trekking the red planet in search for clues of extraterrestrial life. Austrian dare-devil Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound with a jump from the edge of space.
If 2012 could be defined by one thing, it would likely be tech wars. This was the year that Apple and Samsung went to court over a contentious patent battle. Apple dropped Google Maps from its devices, amid widespread criticism -- only to bring it back before the year's end. Twitter cut support for LinkedIn and later blocked Instagramfrom its API. Instagram cut support for Twitter cards, and then the photos disappeared altogether from the micro-blog.
And let's not forget the tablet wars. Hot on Apple's trail, companies like Amazon and Microsoft launched tablets to compete with the iPad.Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google all launched tablets to compete against the iPad. Microsoft entered the hardware business with the impressiveSurface tablet. Apple launched an iPad mini and surprised fans with a fourth-generation iPad, just months after it released a new iPad.
The 2012 U.S. presidential elections electrified social media users, as they took to sites like Facebook and Twitter to make comments during convention speeches and debates.
Facebook reported its top event of 2012 was the elections. Twitter reported that politics dominated the "Twitterverse" in 2012, with President Obama's "Four more years" photo becoming the most re-tweeted post in the site's history.
Top viral moments include, when Mitt Romney said he loved Big Bird, but would cut funding for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS); and when he said he had a binders full of women, in response to a question about pay equity.
It was certainly an exciting year in tech. Here's to 2013!