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Not surprisingly, the Digg community has its finger on the pulse of Arts and Culture in the world.  While some Diggers focus on tech, others on politics, we thought it was time to celebrate the respect for arts and culture in the Digg community.  From the Obama fist bump to the graffiti of Banksy to the history of the five dollar bill, here’s a list of the 15 most dugg stories in Arts and Culture from Digg.com in 2008.

Number One: You Can’t Fake This Stuff [12853 Diggs]

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the pound has gone presidential.  On June 3rd, 2008, our President-Elect shared a fist bump with his wife after a campaign speech in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It was the “fist bump heard round the world”, being documented even by Time Magazine.  While called “terrorist” by others (looking at you, Fox News), Obama didn’t cave to conservative media and just kept on pounding.  Digg celebrated the fist bump in their own way– by making the photo above the most popular culture item on Digg in 2008 with a staggering 12,853 Diggs and 828 comments.

Number Two: Digg if you support NPR: First major layoff in 25 years [6927 Diggs]

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Anyone with an active radio and a willingness to learn knows NPR.  The horns of All Things Considered, the guests of Science Friday, the insight of This American Life are more than just a passing radio show, they’re a ticket to a more informed, fulfilled life.  The gem of public broadcasting is not immune to an economic downturn, as was shown in NPR’s needs to cut costs by laying off staff and canceling programming on its lineup.  If public radio has a counterpart online, it is certainly the democratic nature of Digg.com.  Digg’s community stood to support NPR in its time of need with Digg’s second most popular culture topic of the year, with 6927 Diggs and 618 comments.  We’d love to know how much money was raised for National Public Radio by Diggers alone…

Number Three: The Decline of Civilization [6410 Diggs]

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Somehow, Rene Descartes’ eternal question of “what does it mean to be?” has slid down the slippery gene slope to the mind of Lil Jon, who boldly asks “WHAT?!”  While if you examine it closely, Mr. Jon may be in tune with Zen more closely than our maya-affixed minds can comprehend, we’re going to safely bet that he’s nothing short of clueless.  If you haven’t seen the image that Digg voted its third most popular culture item of the year, you can’t miss it.  Comparably, the philosophies of Aristotle, Descartes, Nietzsche and others are compared to the thoughts of Mr. Jon himself.  If you think our culture is on an ugly, downward spiral, our friends at Digg would agree with you.  6410 Diggs, 412 comments.

Number Four: Graffiti Artist Banksy Creates His Biggest Work in London [5562 Diggs]

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The acclaimed Graffiti artist Banksy is not one to toss up a piece that isn’t wrought with political commentary.  His works are not so much about pushing the barrier on the font level, but telling a story and informing his viewers.  This work, his largest yet in the city of London, portrays the stride of the public against their unblinking overseer, that of CCTV.  This isn’t your Ramon vs. Spit graffiti art, this is the next level of subversive artwork in illegal execution.  Ramon himself would be jealous.  Digg apparently loves Banksy, as this entry and the next are testament.  This topic earned 5562 Diggs by the community and 345 comments.

Number Five: Banksy Grafitti Removal [5483 Diggs]

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In millennia past, our ancestors expressed their experiences on walls with paint, showing the stages of their lives and what was most important to them.  Fast forward to modern times, that history has repeated itself in the form of Graffiti.  Again, Banksy has shown his take on this form of expression and its oppressors.  Imagine if all of our ancestors stone walled history was erased and painted over to preserve public cleanliness?  While it may not be that cut-and-dry, Banksy has a brilliant point with this work.  While the prior listing may have been most popular, this is our own clear favorite.  5483 diggs, 347 comments.

Number Six: One Man’s Trash [5392 Diggs]

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Sometimes art imitates life– and sometimes life imitates art.  This was the goal of renegade sculptors Tim Nobel and Sue Webster, a pair of artists who form heaps of junk into the most elaborate, detailed shadow puppets you’ve likely ever seen.  Nobel and Webster take these mounds of waste and shape them carefully into outlines that merge with light to form believable, lifelike shadows.  The Digg community rated this quite highly, giving it 5392 Diggs and 189 comments.

Number Seven: Star Destroyer [5349 Diggs]

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The last time a story like this was so deeply woven into the culture of its time– it begat one of the world’s greatest religions.  While the epic stories of Star Wars may not yield the same result, it has inspired an equivalent level of adoration and dedication by its fans.  A few Star Wars fans focused their energies on rebuilding a Star Destroyer, to scale, in a perfect representation of the original that floated somewhere just outside of Alderaan.  That’s no moon…  5348 Diggs, 411 comments.

Number Eight: Goth Who Walks His Girlfriend on Leash is Told “No Dogs Allowed” [5197 Diggs]

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While easy to ridicule and misunderstand, the lifestyle of dominants and submissives, goths and otherwise is deserving of its own respect.  Not so in Yorkshire, England, where a bus driver would not let the duo on his bus.  “We don’t let freaks and dogs like you on.”  Not to generalize against bus drivers, but there’s an inside chance that your common bus driver is a freak him/herself, let alone a canine.  Either way, the gothic couple complained to the city and to the bus company, citing discrimination against their lifestyle.  Digg caught the story, making it the 8th most popular culture story of the year with 5198 Diggs and 1133 comments.

Number Nine: A Picture Can Show a Million? [5122 Diggs]

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That famous phrase is cemented in many of our minds– that a “picture is worth a thousand words”.  Artist Chris Jordan has taken this concept to the Nth degree with his series of works showing American numbers to the extreme.  That friendly image above shows 2,000,000 plastic beverage bottles– the number consumed in the U.S. every five minutes.  Pretty ironic if you think about it.  Furthermore, can you imagine the shipping cost in foreign oil needed to transport those bottles from manufacturer to consumer?  Staggering… so are the Diggs: 5122 Diggs, 226 comments.

Number Ten: The Golden Rule… For Atheists [5000 Diggs]

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In spite of each user’s own religious beliefs, Diggers rallied around this flag in 2008– the dogma of the atheist.  For those who don’t subscribe to a theistic religion, the goal is to avoid harming those who are religious.  In life, there are far too many opportunities to separate oneself from others, so the vision of this image is to avoid making those differences anything less than positive.  Your neighbor a staunch Christian, Muslim, Hebrew or Buddhist?  Give ‘em a fist bump.  Let them rock out with their own Lord, you rock out with yours.  In the end, we’re all supposed to party together anyway… 5000 diggs, 1581 comments.

Number Eleven: The Crowd at a Rock Show [4952 Diggs]

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Raise your hands if you’ve been to a rock concert in the last year and you’ve seen ANY of the above stereotypes.  Chances are, you’ve seen more than just one– but likely more than half of the 16 documented in this Digg topic.  The typical 40+ dude who is REALLY into that new twenty-something band, they guy just there for the beer, the guy just there for the women, the guy who is going to turn his back on the band the second they get popular– they’re all there.  If you haven’t at least glanced at this image, you owe it to yourself.  Digger’s loved it, giving it 4952 Diggs and 436 comments.

Number Twelve: This Coca-Cola Commercial is Simply Amazing! [4827 Diggs]

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When you push that over-sized button on the soda vending machine, nothing short of magic happens on the other end.  Inside, a world of legend goes to work to make sure that a bottle of syrupy goodness drops out the other end just a few seconds later.  But what goes into that process?  The good people at Coca-Cola have their own impression of what goes on deep within the amazing vending box.  If you haven’t seen this video, you can’t miss it– it is a brilliant display of human curiosity at its best… 4827 Diggs, 672 comments.

Number Thirteen: Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90 [4712 Diggs]

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One of the greatest visionaries of the last 100 years was laid to rest in 2008.  Futurist Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90 in the island nation of Sri Lanka.  Clarke left behind a storied legacy of foreseeing works like the film-adapted 2001: a Space Odyssey, produced by director Stanley Kubrick.  Clarke’s vision will be missed by many in this age, and referenced by many more to come.  Digg celebrated his loss with 4712 Diggs and 380 comments.

Number Fourteen: I Am Free. [4553 Diggs]

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On a much more blunt approach than someone like Banksy, as shown far above, this artist had a very specific goal with his/her graffiti work.  Free your mind, says this artist with their work, as you are most certainly not free.  Diggers, myself included, can relate– we collectively dugg this image with 4553 Diggs, 627 comments.

Number Fifteen: $5 Bill from 1896 [4325 Diggs]

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In a very different time, a nation’s character was represented in its printed notes of exchange.  Due to counterfeiting and otherwise, the design of currency has become moreso about function than about form.  Watermarks, translucent colorings and other elements protect bills from being copied– whereas 100 years ago, the U.S. Treasury employed a different tactic.  Bills, at the time, were art.  The depth and detail of the artwork on this $5 bill from 1896 wasn’t just beautiful, it was a system of protecting its authenticity.  This detail was not easy for counterfeiters to reproduce in those technically early times.  That bill above certainly does represent a focus on beauty that no longer graces our printed money.  4325 Diggs, 627 comments.

Thanks for reading, StyleCravers, Diggers, Stumblers and otherwise.  Which of Digg’s 15 best Arts and Culture stories were your favorites this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to know what you thought was 2008′s most important story.  In the mean time, please share this with your friends and family, especially your favorite Digger friends.  Here’s to more from the community in 2009…