What we Googled in 2011
In a short video and an extensive data site, Google Zeitgeist takes us back... and shames us with what we searched for in 2011
The video: On Thursday, Google released its annual list of "the searches that compose the year's Zeitgeist — the spirit of the time." Google compiles its Zeitgeist reports by scouring billions of Google searches around the world and identifying the fastest-rising queries. You can delve deep into the data at its Zeitgeist 2011 website, and/or just watch its year-in-review video of top search topics (view it below). Topping the search list of world-captivating things: Rebecca Black, famous for a much-mocked music video. Next on the Top 10 list are Google+, deceased Jackass star Ryan Dunn, acquitted murder suspect Casey Anthony, Battlefield 3, the nonexistent iPhone 5, Adele, Fukushima I Plant, Steve Jobs, and the iPad2.
The reaction: Holy cow, "if this is the spirit of our time, then we are living in a sad time," says Sam Biddle at Gizmodo. What we apparently think "mattered" doesn't get any better if you dig through Zeitgeist a little deeper: Planking? "Tom Brady Haircut"? Google is showing us that we're, collectively, "awful people." Hey, "it was a weird year," says Jon Mitchell in ReadWriteWeb. Yes, the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, and lots of other weighty things are more important than Adele, but with so many "grim and tumultuous events" in 2011, maybe we can be excused for our "mostly frivolous" googling. I'm in the "shame on humanity" camp, says Nitasha Tiku in BetaBeat. But Google's video retrospective is "actually quite moving," if you can ignore "the hideous Coldplay soundtrack — and that thing about Rebecca Black." Check it out: