Officially, we have lived through one year of the coronavirus pandemic.
One year has passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. Over 120 million people (1.5% of the world population) have contracted the coronavirus this year. For most people, this is the first global pandemic we know, and there are more than a few learnings for us.
This historical first year of COVID-19 served up some important lessons:
Culture plays a big part in how different countries handle a pandemic. We had a good reminder of why elections make sense - the state of America felt drastically different before and after Biden's inauguration;
Solutions to the toughest challenges can be developed at lightning speed if the world decides to come together;
Lifestyle could be changed: Work can be done at home, shopping can be done online. With the right policies, we will adjust accordingly.
But there remains a lot of unknowns:
How did this new coronavirus come about? Other than that it came from Wuhan, arguably we know little else about the source of the virus. As such, we yet don't know how to prevent the next COVID;
What does "normal" look like once everything is re-opened? We are still staring down many unknowns, some of them may not play out for years or even decades;
Has the pandemic brought the world together or pull the world even further apart? With fingers pointing, disinformation campaigns, it is hard to say that all is well.
For all the ifs and buts on resolving other major global problems, the past year was a clear signal that people are resilient enough to derive the right solutions and handle some short-term, adverse effects which may result from doing the right thing. The question is whether we have the leadership and the will to do so before it is too late.
First NFT sold at an art auction for $69 million.
An NFT artwork, “Everydays: The First 5000 Days", was sold by Christine at an auction for $69 million. This marked the first time a virtual Non-Fungible Token (NFT) has gone on auction at a major auction house, whilst turning Beeple (real name: Mike Winkelmann) the 3rd most expensive living artist to date.
As for the rest of us, at least we have witnessed history. For $69 million, the buyer will receive a high-resolution image and a digital token. The token is encrypted with Beeple's signature to mark the one and only true copy of the "Everydays". By utilizing blockchain technology, buyers and sellers can verify the authenticity and ownership of the accompanying picture, as well as tracking any transaction via the digital ledger.
This may be a watershed moment for digital artists as transactions just became possible and crucially, lucrative. For the longest time, digital art was replicable. Anyone can copy and paste an image on the internet. As such, it was extremely difficult for artists to profit as anyone can get it for free.
But now, art collectors could show off to the world that they have the true, original copy by owning the NFT attached. Through blockchain, a ready-made, easy-to-use secondary market has also been created. Unlike physical art, virtual tokens can be traded online without shipping. For artists, NFTs are now enabling the first sale, but they also entitle artists to receive a future commission on each transaction, thus making digital art significantly more profitable for the creator.
We are now surely at a pivotal moment in art history.
Historical claims against the British Royal Family.
But this week's highlight was surely the interview given by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Heavy punches were thrown by the Duchess: racism inside the Royal Family, denial of help to Meghan who considered suicide, and poor relationship between Prince Charles and Harry. The Queen and the Royal Family chose a low-key response, merely saying that they would rather deal with the issues privately.
This interview once again raised an existential question around the Royal Family. There are certainly few doubts that the Queen is the key to holding the Family together today. She is also well-liked worldwide and has even turned her image into a marketing machine for Britain.
But there are lessons for the Queen in the form of the Thai Royal Family. Much like Queen Elizabeth II, the former Thai King, Rama IX, was popular and had a long reign. When he died in 2016, his largely unpopular son took over, and the country was soon thrown into chaos as the new King muddled into the country's politics.
Much like any other issue that the world faces, there exists a cultural and generation gap when it comes to the current accusations. A YouGov survey done after the interview revealed that those from the UK overwhelmingly felt that the interview by Harry and Meghan was inappropriate, while the reverse was true in the U.S. In the same survey, the youngest adults (aged 18-24) revealed their belief that the Royal Family was unjust, while those 65+ strongly supported the Royal Family.
The future of the monarchy could just become the next polarizing issue when Brexit is finally sorted out.
This article is part of the Making History This Week series.