Wed, Jan 01, 2014 - Page 9 News List

The issues that are to dominate the year

From the surveillance state to food security, the World Cup and missions to map out the galaxy, here is a look at the matters that will likely make headlines this year

By Charles Arthur  /  The Observer, LONDON

Illustration: Mountain People

The tension between privacy, security, sharing and impermanence that began gathering steam last year will come to the fore this year. The Edward Snowden revelations echoed loudest through the technology business, with companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo all implicated in the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) scooping up of huge amounts of data. That, of course, is their business — but it is generally done with their users’ permission.

Privacy and security are becoming intertwined, though they are different. Privacy is about the right not to be overlooked; security is about the systems that ensure it. Yet we are happy to sacrifice a form of privacy, our personal data, in return for clear benefits. That is why systems like Google Now — which try to tell you useful information before you ask for it, such as delayed trains on your commute, or hotels near your arrival points in a new city — are accepted. We would like computers to do such boring stuff as working out if our day is going to be derailed, but we do not want that shared with other people.

And what we do share is becoming both more permanent and more transient. Facebook’s growth continues and people commit more and more to it. Yet at the same time a younger generation is adopting services such as Snapchat, whose key feature is impermanence: You take a photo, send it and within seconds of it being viewed, it is gone. The Web is blown away by the morning wind. That Snapchat was offered US$3 billion by Facebook (it declined) shows how important it is becoming to leave no trace in the modern world. The device on which all this privacy, security and sharing happens is increasingly, of course, the smartphone. The PC is no longer dominant and the new battleground for our trust is the device that we hold in our hands — and of which more than a billion will be sold during the year. However, is what we do on our mobile phone private? Is it secure? Apps give us the promise of privacy yet sometimes break it (some grab details without permission) and, when it comes to security, the hacking of telephones by the NSA and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (the secret agency responsible for signals intelligence) demonstrates that the battle does not end — it just moves to a new platform.

FASHION

By Alice Fisher

British names are going to be the big news in fashion this year. Over the past 12 months Kering and LVMH — the two biggest fashion conglomerates in the world — have invested heavily in British design talent and this year will bring the results of that injection of money.

In September last year, LVMH bought a 51 percent stake in shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood’s accessories company and a minority share in the JW Anderson label. Designer Jonathan Anderson was also appointed creative director of the Loewe luxury leather goods brand, another of LVMH’s companies. This investment came months after Kering bought a majority stake in Christopher Kane’s label. After the deal, Anderson described LVMH as “the Oxford University of luxury goods,” a perfect description for the way this sort of investment will help him develop his creativity and improve his company’s infrastructure. Expect all three names to dominate the international fashion stage in months to come

British models are also heading for world domination. Cara Delevingne was the most-Googled fashion name last year — beating Kate Moss to the top spot. As well as starring in advertising campaigns for Saint Laurent and lingerie brand La Perla, the model is diversifying into acting this year. She is now shooting a feature film, The Face of An Angel, out this year. However, the new name to watch in British modeling is Malaika Firth. The 19-year-old from Essex, southeast England, starred in her first advertising campaign for last year’s autumn/winter season. It was for Prada, one of the most influential companies in the fashion industry. This made Firth the first black model to appear in a Prada campaign since 1994, when it used Naomi Campbell in its autumn campaign. Firth has also been named as one of the stars of Burberry’s spring campaign.

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