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It’s the Most Wonderful Zeitgeist of the Year

Google Zeitgeist

Google ZeitgeistI admit it: I’m a word nut. I love language. And if there’s one thing I enjoy more than saying the word “zeitgeist” it’s getting to use it in a sentence.

It is therefore with great anticipation that I await the yearly arrival of the Google Zeitgeist. Not just because I get to say it a lot, but also because it’s a fantastic yearly treat to look into the state of search from the past year.

For those unschooled in the ways of the GZ as I affectionately refer to it, it is not a member of the Wu-Tang Clan (that’s GZA a.k.a. The Genius). Rather the GZ is, according to Google, “the most popular and fastest rising queries from the year” with the loftily-stated but totally accurate goal of “(capturing) the joys, sorrows and curiosity that many of us felt.”

The Zeitgeist provides a unique look into what the world was searching for on the web. What piqued our collective interest? What was newsworthy? What celebrities went out of their gourds? Whose bosoms made a surprise public appearance?

You can even narrow it down to different parts of the globe to examine search trends around the world, or look at how topics trended over time. Rising and falling search trends can be examined in categories including Celebrities, Sports, Science & Technology, and more. My personal favorite category is Quirky, where I learned that the fastest rising Halloween costume request was Snooki. I then used Google to find out who Snooki was.

This example illustrates my favorite aspect of the GZ: voyeurism. I’m curious to the point of being a snoop, and getting an intimate look at what the world at large is searching for satisfies that urge. It gives me an opportunity to find out about the biggest-of-the-big popular culture references, most of which I would remain completely and blissfully unaware.

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the echo chamber of reading about the internet marketing and technology industries. As a marketer by trade, it’s important for me to maintain at least a working knowledge of broader cultural trends. Since I’m not going to suddenly become a “Jersey Shore” devotee just because I now know who Snooki is, the Google Zeitgeist provides the means to do just that.

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