Ear to the tracks
Equipped with data from over 30 countries, the objective of Google's Year-End Zeitgeist is to hone in on topics of global interest.
In 2008, "Sarah Palin," "Beijing 2008" and "Facebook login" topped the fastest-rising topics worldwide:
Meanwhile, top-of-mind topics regarding the economy included searches for "financial crisis," "depression" and "bailout."
And the most popular "Who is" searches were dominated by political figures, with Obama, McCain and Palin rounding out the top three, followed by musicians and celebrity Miley Cyrus.
Google VP-Search Products/User Experience Marissa Mayer provided a general interpretation of the results:
So, what do we in this global village have in common? Mainly a strong interest in socializing and politics. Social networks comprised four out of the top 10 global fastest-rising queries, while the US election held everyone's interest around the globe.
Not to say cultural differences don't permeate searchers' priorities. "Russians elected Dmitri Medvedev as their president, but a couple of popular musical acts got more attention from Google searchers," Mayer pointed out, concluding that Google's annual Zeitgeist is a "true reflection of the times."
Google's own insatiable desire to quantify "the times" manifested itself in the search giant's latest project: making magazine archives searchable. 10 magazines have signed on so far. The company called the effort "one more important step toward our long-standing goal of providing access to all the world's information."