Google's 2012 Zeitgeist Report is out today, and it makes for predictably fascinating reading. The report tracks the top search terms from Google users around the world. These are the highest trending stories, defined by Google as having the "highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011".
The top 10 list for the world reveals that internet users have an unending fascination for celebrities -- especially dead ones:
Whitney Houston I kind of understand, but the fascination with Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan's death and the suicide of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd seem a little morbid. BBB12 is Brazilian Big Brother. Brazilians apparently love reading about TV on the internet, Brazilian shows accounted for 4 of the top 10 TV searches worldwide this year. (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was the top American show in third place.)
Here are the top event searches worldwide. U.S. events definitely seem to dominate:
What were Americans searching for the most in 2012? Mostly pop culture, with the exception of the election and Kony sneaking in at number 10:
Contrast this with Egypt, where Google users seemed to be in a much more serious mood amid that country's political tumult (Google translated):
Supreme Committee for Elections
Coordinating universities 2012
Freedom and justice
Not a single videogame or reality show on there. Interestingly, "Burma" also turned up in the top searches for Saudi Arabia. Evidently, there was interest in the country's political transition in the Arab world this year:
Ramadan Series 2012
Free Syrian Army
What were the Chinese searching for? Mostly TV and tech, with the exception of the Diaoyu islands and "sea anenome" -- the Chinese name for the typhoon that hit the mainland last summer:
Zhen Huan Chuan
It's a bit grim to see "pulmonary carcinoid," a type of lung cancer tumor, appear in Japan's top searches, presumably due to fears from Fukushima fallout:
iOS 6 "
Russians seem largely interested in how to watch stuff for free on the Internet:
watch movies online
Odnoklassniki social network
vkontakte my page
new university dormitory
What any of this means is debatable. We can admire the seriousness of Egypt's politically-minded web searchers but it's also a sign that the country's attention is being dominated by political crisis. When a country's more stable, it makes sense that web users are spending their time on Big Brother and Gangnam Style rather than riots and referendums.
One country that really stands out is India:
The top two results are university entrance exams. The third is an Indian-American porn star (SFW). Glad it's not all work and no play over there.
LENNART PREISS/AFP/Getty Images
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