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The 16 biggest tech stories of 2016

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Technology doesn’t just change the world — it runs it. 

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In 2016, the algorithms, networks and slabs of glass and metal that make up today’s digital tools had a direct impact on our lives in some very unexpected ways. 

From Facebook’s fake news problem to the Galaxy Note7 literally exploding, that impact wasn’t always for the good, but there were also signs of hope thanks to the promise of virtual reality and driverless cars.

Here are the biggest tech stories of 2016:

1. The headphone jack

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Apple’s annual iPhone launch always hits the mobile world like a shiny glass meteor, but the new iPhone 7 had an aftershock that will be felt for years: the removal of the headphone jack. 

Despite being a near-universal standard used in devices worldwide, the eminently functional 3.5mm jack couldn’t survive Apple’s determination to shape the future — one where audio is wireless. In the present, however, cords still rule, and Apple’s big move has given us all dongles to lose, essentially mainstreaming inconvenience. (It’s also forcing grown adults to say the word “dongle.”) 

Whether you call that courage or hubris, Apple has put a stake in the ground, one other smartphone makers will navigate around, or perhaps trip over, for years to come.  —Pete Pachal

2. Fake news infects Facebook

Image: ERIC…

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Myanmar

Digital Revolution and Repression in Myanmar and Thailand

Activists have also proactively published social media content in multiple languages using the hashtags #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar and #WhatsHappeningInThailand to boost coverage of events on the ground.

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By Karen Lee

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Following the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s netizens became the latest to join the #MilkTeaAlliance, an online collective of pro-democracy youth across Asia.

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Ecommerce

How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?

Oxford Business Group

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How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?
– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability

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A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.

The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.

Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.

In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.

While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.

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How the Rural-Urban Divide Plays Out on Digital Platforms

It is one thing for entrepreneurs, whether urban or rural, to create and operate an online store, as some digital platforms have made it relatively easy to manage an e-store – even by using just a smartphone.

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In the West, villages are emptying out due to the lack of economic opportunities. Consider Italy where, in a bid to attract newcomers, a handful of municipalities have turned to selling houses for €1.

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