I don’t think I’m the only one looking forward to 2009. So just this last time, let’s take a look back at what was, for me, the highlights (and lowlights) for the previous 12 months.

Design Highlight of the Year: The Beijing Olympics Aside from being the largest spectacle in the whole of human existence, the Beijing Olympics were also a giant leap for design. To say that design was integrated into the games would be incredible understatement — it was really more of a top-to-bottom, air-tight, spandex jumpsuit with goggles … of branding. Brilliant to watch and something that will be memorable to designers for generations to come. For more along these lines, check out my design review of the 2008 Olympics.

Personal Highlight of the Year: The Presidential Election (and results) For nearly two years we waited with anticipation, watching, speculating, blogging, and sometimes yelling about who would succeed Bush. And while the election featured a number of design stories, this makes the list for less tangible reasons. Like Michelle Obama, I am on my way to being, once again, proud of my Americanness after four (if not eight) years of walking with my face down, often in my own palms while shaking my head. It feels good to back in favour with my home country. It’s still a strange relationship, but we’re warming to one another again.

Biggest Surprise: Twitter What’s surprising about Twitter? The results. Before signing up in March or so, I thought it was just a tool for über-cool Silicon Valley folks to keep track of one another while out to parties and bar-hopping and whatnot. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Between sharing links, proclaiming news, and asking questions (and getting speedy replies), I managed to make Twitter a part of my life. And you know what else, Twitter has helped me make loads of friends right here in the City. Seriously, it’s very social.

Design Low Point of the Year: The new Pepsi logo Not being involved with the project, my connection is only tangential. But as a designer, and someone passionate about branding and identity, I’m appalled. Plus, I actually prefer Pepsi, so now I have to contend with that every time I drink some of that fizzy crap. The logo has been covered on tons of blogs, including this one, so I won’t belabour the point, but designers, please be wary. I fear that in the new year large corporations will have renewed mandates to prefer, if not demand, simply bad design. (Also on the wall of shame for 2008 are Xerox and Walmart)

Personal Low Point of the Year: October That sounds rather vague, but October marked for me the first time in my post-educational career that I didn’t work a single day. This was a month where I was totally unemployed; even the freelance side projects measured only a minimum or hours. After the bailout and news of unemployment numbers, the stock market crashed (several times, methinks) and the economy really shifted into a lower gear. October was the month when it all fell on me, and I found myself quite down and out. Things haven’t gotten too much better, but somehow I feel that I’ve climbed out of the ditch that was October.

The Blogs, and other thoughts. 2008 was another progressive year for me internet-wise. I discovered and started using Google Reader. I got connected with folks from FreelanceSwitch.com and TheDieline.com and even appeared on a few podcasts here and there. I feel that after a few years in the dark, the non-internet design world (print, packaging, product, etc.,) is finally waking up to the blogs and there are finally sources for viewing logos, packaging, and even design studios. This, along with the elevated use of Facebook and LinkedIn make the Internet a friendly place to be for non-internet designers … at last.

Prognosis for 2009 If I could predict the future, the last thing on my mind would be writing blog posts, but I am cautiously optimistic. I honestly feel that New York, sooner than the rest of the country, will begin to recover from the scandals and shenanigans of the financial industry. Once the banks get settled, business will start to pick up again, and in turn design work will resume as normal. It’s hard to predict my own fate because of my continuing odd-ball position as a freelancer. I’m hoping to find more projects of my own and produce some work I can actually be proud of. Since slow economic times are often a good environment for startups, I’m hoping to work with some folks starting in business for themselves, which in a sense is me starting a business for myself.

Aside from that, it’s more of the same. More Twitter, more meetups, more networking in real life and online. More blogs, more podcasts, more magazines and books (when I can afford them), more software, more free downloads, more PDFs, more photos and more paper and more ink.

Onwards and upwards, like I always say.