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December 10th, 2008
What the World's Been Looking For

Social networking, pop stars and Sarah Palin are on the minds of computer users around the globe. Today, Google released Zeitgeist 2008 which compiles various categories of search queries from their popular search engine to create a snapshot of what the world’s been looking for this year.

The number one fastest rising search term from global users was Sarah Palin. Based on her internet popularity, maybe Obama made the wrong pick for his new Secretary of State? The rest of the top ten was rounded out with “Beijing 2008,” social networking sites from the U.S., Spain, Poland, and Germany, President Elect Barack Obama, “Euro 2008,” and celebrities Heath Ledger and the Jonas Brothers. (Post-modern moment: In writing this post, I just googled several of those terms, thus adding to their popularity. It’s a vicious circle, from which the Jonas Brothers are benefitting.)

Google has also provided top 10 lists for 35 different countries and what people are looking for proves telling….

Australians like searching for internet related topics, but the term ”underbelly” cracked the top 10 of fastest rising terms. Not simply an attempt to find out more about marsupials’ pouches, Underbelly was a popular TV miniseries about gangland killings in Melbourne.

Apparently, Brazilians have a younger web-surfing crowd as their top two queries lead to a site for pre-teen girls and a popular manga title. Italians are looking for jobs.

Spaniards have a love affair with soccer. South Africans have a love affair with Chuck Norris. Chileans have a love affair with themselves – “Chile” is the number one search term there.

Weather (or wetter, meteo, погода or weer) is a popular search everywhere.

Indians’ favorite sites reflect the number of citizens abroad (which the World Bank reports as 5.7 million ), their interest in government salaries, their devotion to cricket and to Bollywood starlets.

Hong Kong has to take the prize for the most schizophrenic web surfers. Their top 10 fastest rising terms included Earth Day, Alexander Graham Bell, and artists Marc Chagall and Diego Velasquez. Look out for an environmentally-friendly, aesthetically-pleasing phone from the Hong Kong market in 2009.

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