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Zeitgeist 2009: the collective consciousness

News from Google

At Google we're all about curiosity, and clearly, so are all of you. Everyone, it seems, searches the web to fulfill that innate curiosity to find something of interest. Whether searching for the latest news, a popular holiday gift, a website you've heard about, the latest singing sensation, or the trailer to a blockbuster film, you come to the Google search box with something on your mind. And since 2001, we're always excited to look back at the year for fastest-rising Google search queries (those that had the greatest surge in the past year) and most popular (those that are consistently searched in large volume, like [weather]). Together, these searches ultimately reflect "the spirit of the times" — the global zeitgeist. By exploring 2009's popular and fastest rising search terms, we're able to share a glimpse of what's gained the interest of the global community over the past year.So what has captivated the minds of searchers from almost 50 countries throughout this year? As millions of fans said goodbye to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson led the list of our top 10 fastest rising queries across the globe. And a new star was born, too, as quirky pop singer Lady Gaga became a search sensation the world over. In addition to appearing on many regional fastest-rising search term lists, from the Czech Republic to Switzerland and Kenya to the United Kingdom, Lady Gaga also landed in the #9 spot on the global fastest rising list.

In a sweeping confirmation that global searchers are intent on being social on the web, both Facebook and the Spanish social-networking site Tuenti each moved up from 2008, to #2 and #3 respectively. Twitter also made our global list for the first time at #5 — undoubtedly propelled by celebrity tweeters from Ashton Kutcher to Miley Cyrus.

With the global community closely watching the swine flu epidemic, [schweinegrippe], [gripe porcina], [], [h1n1], [wiskiej grypy] and [sikainfluenssa] were heavily queried the world over. In fact, in the U.S., swine flu was searched even more than another major event of the year: the inauguration of President Obama.

In the U.S., 2009 also saw many people express their thrifty consciousness in response to the sour economy. The most popular made by hand searches including everything from baby food (#2) to laundry detergent (#6). And as more and more turned to comfort foods and recipes to make at home, [chili] became the most popular recipe searched for across the country.

It's because of curious searchers like you, and the aggregation of billions of queries throughout the year, that our annual Zeitgeist has become an insightful look into a global mindset. So please explore the year to date on our Zeitgeist site, which showcases many of these interesting trends across various categories and countries, and more about how we came up with our lists. We're already anticipating what searches in 2010 will illuminate!

Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience

published @ December 1, 2009

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