What a lot of weather we've been having...

I have too many Victor Meldrew moments these days. Most recently, a TV forecaster who started with the phrase "We've got a lot of weather coming our way in the next twenty-four hours". I'd have thought we'd have twenty-four hours of weather coming our way, even if it's a little busier than normal. New year retrospectives all seem to say much the same thing... haven't we had a lot of news this year.

Hard to disagree. Soon after Tunisia kick-started the Arab Spring, I spoke to one commentator, who calmly explained that the Middle East would never change, and this was no more than a storm in a teacup.

After the fall of regimes in Egypt and Libya, Colonel Gaddafi dead and Hosni Mubarak on trial, and an almost year-long revolution in Syria, I'll spare his blushes by leaving him anonymous.

Some have argued it doesn't compare with the collapse of communism, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. That's perhaps because eastern European countries are a little easier for us to understand than those in the Middle East. Dictators who for decades have ruled without question are gone, others are hanging on, but it would be odd to deny the profound nature of the changes we've seen.

What else? Osama bin Laden was killed - remember that? It seemed to pass in a flash. That he was hiding in almost plain sight in Pakistan widened the crack in relations between the US and rulers in Islamabad, though officials in Washington know their hopes of getting out of Afghanistan hinge on what happens across the border.

Back home we had four nights of summer insanity. We seemed to mis-read the riots, blaming it on gang culture when in fact the gangs united against their common enemy - the police. Later studies claimed police harassment as a principle cause, though many others saw less of a protest and more of a mass shopping spree - if you want to fight the power, JD Sports seems an odd place to start.

Then the mob mentality we saw on the streets moved into the courts, as caffeine-fuelled judges handed down ever more bizarre sentences. It culminated in four-year terms for two men who suggested rioting on facebook. A scheduled riot that never actually happened. The out-of-hours shoppers on our streets weren't the only ones doing inexplicable things in August.

Then, back like an unwanted horror sequel, came the recession. The country seemed to slowly grind to a halt, as people started to worry about whether they'd have jobs, homes or much to hope for in the years ahead.

Ministers blamed the "Eurozone crisis", a crisis few ordinary voters actually understand. Over the year, George Osborne's found a lot of things to blame for our stuttering economy. The snow, the heat, the Royal Wedding.

Of course, his job's been made much easier by the often still shambolic nature of Labour's opposition.

No-one expects Ed Miliband to set future policies in stone, but nearly two years into the coalition it's hard to see an alternative taking shape. That a government can impose the kind of austerity measures seen in the last year, and still look relatively good in the polls, suggests the public have as many questions about Labour as the Conservatives.

And I almost forgot phone-hacking. Dear God, who'd have imagined at the start of the year we'd end it without the News of the World, with "billionaire tyrant" Rupert Murdoch nodding off in front of MPs, and Hugh Grant almost putting in a convincing performance as a noble campaigner?

We end the year with journalists' standing at an all-time low. Yet this year also saw cheating Pakistani cricketers jailed for crimes which were only uncovered by, you guessed it, the News of the World.

There's no doubt what happened there, and probably at countless other papers, was abysmal. But it's a lot more complicated than the "papers=bad, celebs=good" story we've heard this year.

Journalism hasn't felt strong enough to stage a proper fight-back this year. Next year may be different.

Then there was flooding in Australia, an earthquake in New Zealand, a tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, and worldwide mourning for a man who's main talent was to make us desperate to give him our money in return for shiny devices (like the one I'm writing this on).

And then, standing across every significant event this year, there's the internet. Whether it's videos that spark dissent in the Middle East, twitter campaigns that force advertisers to abandon the News of the World, or idiots given ludicrous prison sentences for writing the word "riot" on a social networking site, the truly transformative technology of our age now defines almost everything we do.

It's our generation's printing press, or penicillin. And it will only become more important in 2012.