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article imageGoogle's zeitgeist: People, places & things most queried in 2011

By Joan Firstenberg     Dec 15, 2011 in Internet
In 2011, Google users worldwide were more interested in tech topics, "Battlefield 3" and Steve Jobs than almost anything else. Moderate interest showed up for the mythical iPhone 5, and Apple's iPad2.
Coming in on top of the list of the most-searched US celebrities is reality star Kim Kardashian, whose digital profile got a big boost this year after marrying and then divorcing basketball player Kris Humphries in just 72 days. She initially rose to fame after appearing in the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" which began in 2007 and followed the personal and professional lives of her family.
After her comes Victoria Beckham, who with husband David, gave birth to her first child, daughter Harper Seven, in July, followed by Harry Potter actress Emma Watson in third.
Singer Amy Winehouse, whose tragic death was earlier this year, comes in fifth. And comedian Ricky Gervais, the only man to make it into the top ten, probably boosted by his stint as MC for the Golden Globes, comes in sixth.
Among the fastest-rising searches was of course, the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. That comes in 7th, followed by queries about the iPhone 5 and the popular football computer game, Fifa 12.
The late Ryan Dunn of Jackass fame, killed in a car crash, is among the fastest-rising reality TV stars, and X-Factor hit the number one spot in the TV shows chart. Breaking Dawn leads the fastest-rising movies list.
In the US, tech was the golden search. Fastest-rising product searches included HP TouchPad, which actually touched off a fire-sale frenzy several times this year. And the iPhone4 came in at number 10. Interest in tablets and smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy were also very hot searches.
Mashable Social Media reports that in the "Tech & Gadgets" section of the U.S. Google survey results, Apple dominates the fastest rising technology category, with 7 out of the 10 entries. In the fastest rising gadgets category, the Amazon Kindle Fire sparked the most interest, with the iPhone 4S close behind.
Several Android devices did muscle their way in, all from HTC: the Thunderbolt, the Inspire and the Sensation. The slowly dying also made a good run in 2011: the HP TouchPad and Palm Pre 3 were in the U.S. gadgets list too.
The Daily Mail reports that in the news last year, Google searchers were curious about the World Cup, the earthquake in Haiti and the Gulf oil spill. This year, great interest was generated in the earthquake in Japan and its effect on the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The most searched travel destination turned out to be Las Vegas, followed by New York and Disneyland, Paris in second place.
In a blog post, Google revealed that cupcakes and Japan captured global interest: cupcakes made the top food lists in more than a dozen countries, while TEPCO, the owners of the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by the earthquake earlier this year became the first non-Latin term to make it to Google’s fastest-rising search list.
The Top Googled Celebrities List
1. Kim Kardashian
2. Victoria Beckham
3. Emma Watson
4. Scarlett Johansson
5. Jennifer Aniston
6. Britney Spears
7. Megan Fox
8. Ricky Gervais
9. Jessica Jane
10. Angelina Jolie
The Fastest Falling People
1. Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
2. Madonna
3. Alicia Keys
4. Heidi Montag
5. Alexandra Burke
6. Hayley Williams
MSNBC reports that the Google zeitgeist, meaning the spirit of the times, is compiled from the searches that go through Google each year. This has become an annual event for the company, and has quickly been adopted by social sites like Facebook and Twitter, both of which share their own 'Top Ten' most shared around Christmas every year as well.
The editor of Computeractive magazine says about all this,
'It’s slightly depressing to see some of the kind of basic searches that are going on there, particularly 'what is scampi. It’s also slightly worrying that young people will go to Google as the first authority, the first step to any kind of piece of information.'
But a spokesman for Google says,
‘As usual, search is helping people satisfy their appetite for celebrity pictures and gossip and this year is no different, with Kim Kardashian and Rebecca Black coming to the fore."
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