2005 - The Year the Earth Moved.

,Last year was for many people a year of turmoil and strife ... sectarian violence and terrorism in Iraq, terrorism in London, earthquakes as well as other natural disasters all over the world. Who can forget the post tsunami images showing the ruination of a paradise. Villages washed away, towns and cities brought low by massive waves and the movement of the earth. A tsunami and earthquake, which wiped out entire families, villages, towns and communities. Over 250,000 people were wiped off this blue and green planet of ours. Look to Pakistan, India and the region of Kashmir where another earthquake later in the year caused the deaths of around 100,000 people and made over 3 million homeless.

For the world of photography this was a year that allowed us to tell stories, as the wealth of images it produced have left an impression with many. Who can forget the images of schools which collapsed taking an entire generation with it. The images produced by ordinary people of massive waves which took away everything in their path, the streets left empty of life. Images of bodies floating in rivers for days, because there was no one to take them away. I include the tsunami from boxing day 2004 because the most striking images took days to come to us ... and continue to make an impression.

To me, 2005 represented the year that technology really put the telling of the news, into the hands of the common man. The year when the cellphones, digital cameras and camcorders which were in the hands of the public, told the story as it happened, where before, the press would only have been able to tell it after the fact. Ready availability of this technology has changed the world of newstelling irrevocably, further enhanced by the advent of the first stock companies which specialize in the use of news media recorded by the public.

This was also the year when thugs used this same technology in "Happy slapping" episodes where hapless victims were beaten and assaulted for no reason other than to record and share it with their friends ... because it was "funny". This kind of behaviour is in my mind an example of what desensitization has brought about. Turn the news into entertainment and people (maladjusted or otherwise) will think its funny ... Monkey See, Monkey Do ... God help us.

2006 should be an interesting year as this technology has improved substantially ... Cellphones which now boast 2 - 6 megapixel cameras are now readily available and in circulation. Many of these phones and cameras also boasting large capacity memory storage and even video capabilities. Add to this broadband capable transmission speeds, and you can get this media to anywhere in the world at the touch of a few buttons. The democratization of media is here ... it'll definitely be something to watch out for.

Hopefully 2006 will about many changes and improvements, but I fear that knowing humankind we will see both extremes, and this technology will continue to be used to show humanity at its very best and also its very worst.