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Google Zeitgeist 2008 136

bahstid writes "As the year comes to a close, it's time to look at the big events, memorable moments and emerging trends that captivated us in 2008. As it happens, studying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box gives us a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times. While the global aggregated results are what one might expect, the breakdown by country is filled with 'hotmail,' 'yahoo' and 'facebook,' indicating that in 2008 your average user still hasn't quite grasped this address bar thing." This year's focus on the US presidential election and the economic crisis made for some interesting trends. It also seems that many Americans frequently checked their Facebook profile while watching American Idol and wondering who Sarah Palin was.
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Google Zeitgeist 2008

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  • to be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PachmanP ( 881352 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:17AM (#26100281)
    ...sometimes it's easier to just go into google than to actually use the address bar. frist psot
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by zmjjmz ( 1264856 )
      Most of the browsers released in 2008 will go to the site automatically if you type the name of the site (i.e. facebook or digg) automatically.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, same. Also, it's often easier to add the "wikipedia" to a google search query than to actually search wikipedia.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

        Never heard of keyword search?

        To translate a word, I type Ctrl-L and then "dict someword" ENTER.
        For Wikipedia I have "wiki sometopic" and "wikie sometopic" for the English Wikipedia.

        Oh, I also use Yakuake [yakuake.uv.ro], and I have a special button on my keyboard for it.
        So for when Firefox is not running, I press that button, type "wiki sometopic" or "dict sometopic" and Firefox opens with that search.
        Yakuake even automatically retracts when Firefox opens.

        I have this for YouTube (yt=, btjunkie (bt), wikipedia (wiki, wikie

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jlarocco ( 851450 )

          To translate a word, I type Ctrl-L and then "dict someword" ENTER.
          For Wikipedia I have "wiki sometopic" and "wikie sometopic" for the English Wikipedia.

          You are nowhere near lazy enough. 'w' => Wikipedia, 'g' => Google search, "gi" => Google image search, 'f' => Flickr, 'd' => dictionary, ...

          But yeah, shortcuts or keyword searches are the way to go.

          • You are nowhere near lazy enough. 'w' => Wikipedia, 'g' => Google search, "gi" => Google image search, 'f' => Flickr, 'd' => dictionary, ...

            You are nowhere near lazy enough. "i" => Google image search, FTW!

        • by pbhj ( 607776 )

          As the sibling post said w=wikipedia, d=dictionary.com, etc., ...

          But I do use Google sometimes. If I use Konq (which occasionally I need too, but only very occasionally) then ctrl-enter doesn't work to fill in the http://www.domain.com/ [domain.com] around the typed in $domain. It's therefore less clicks+presses to do "gg://$domain" and click the [what is usually the] first listing. YMMV.

          If you're a keyboard user then aren't the search and address bars only one tab apart. That would account for a lot of misfires too.

          • Tab is the worst excuse for "keyboard support" in a GUI app. It's useless with a thousand links, buttons and form fields in a browser.

            I found Ctrl-L (adress bar flield), Ctrl-K (search bar field) and search-as-you-type for html links to be very useful.

            Especially because I type very fast. (German NEO layout + Datadesk SmartBoard keyboard. I hope I can buy two DataHands soon. At $600 a piece not a bargain...)

      • So very true. I almost never use the Wikipedia search function and when I do, it seems to work only about 50% of the time.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      Really? Why don't they use the bookmark toolbar? Maybe I'm overestimating the capabilities of the average user, and most people don't customize the browser enough to even add a bookmark?
    • Re:to be fair (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crow ( 16139 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:31AM (#26100593) Homepage Journal

      Yes, particularly for two reasons:

      1) It protects you from typos. If you miss a character, it's immediately obvious before you've helped out a typo squatter.

      2) It often gives you options to select certain topics within a given site, allowing you to more easily navigate to the portion of the site you actually want.

      • by kv9 ( 697238 )

        1) It protects you from typos. If you miss a character, it's immediately obvious before you've helped out a typo squatter.

        I bet that why all germans type "web.de" in Google search.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DeadPixels ( 1391907 )
      Agreed. It's a lot easier for me to hit ctrl+t, tab, enter, and type a site name than it is for me to mouse up to the address bar, select it all, delete it, and retype the address before hitting enter. Plus, Google's a lot more forgiving of typos than the address bar is...
      • by kv9 ( 697238 )

        Agreed. It's a lot easier for me to hit ctrl+t, tab, enter, and type a site name than it is for me to mouse up to the address bar, select it all, delete it, and retype the address before hitting enter.

        say hello to ALT+D. works by default in Firefox/IE and possibly other browsers. Opera has some other shortcut for going to the address bar IIRC, which I promptly remapped to ALT+D.

      • Or CTRL-L for location, the whole thing is highlighted for you (Don't hit delete, just start typing the URL). Oh, almost forgot: no mouse involved, FTW!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Actually, I've seen worse than this. I was at this bar attached to a hotel in Switzerland and they had a coin-operated Windoze machine. And old American guy (~70s) felt hip enough to surf the tubes, so he put in his coins, and upon login an IE browser window automatically popped up, full screen. My friend and I painfully watched him spend 10 minutes trying to find IE by going to Google and searching for "Internet Explorer". He even tried to download from one site and install it; when that didn't work he
    • by Ed Avis ( 5917 )

      This assumes there is even a difference between the address bar and the search box, which is not the case for Google Chrome, and barely the case for other browsers (since they will do a search when you enter a non-URI into the address bar).

      Perhaps we will get closer once more to Tim B-L's original web browser, where URIs were considered implementation details and not shown to the user. If the desktop's clipboard supports a 'URI' data type (falling back to just text for apps that don't understand it) then y

    • for real, if i had a penny for everytime i was too lazy to add .whatever" in the address bar when i could put part of the sites name in the search bar and click...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by rubah ( 1197475 )

      I make fun of my friend regularly for googling things that are in his search bar search engines list.

      he also googled google maps.

      • by FLEB ( 312391 )

        he also googled google maps.

        Although I haven't done that for Maps, I've often Google-searched even Google's services. For things like "Webmaster tools", or the developer APIs, no immediate URL comes to mind. OTOH, I'll often get by guessing a sub-site (like for a product or service from a parent company) by using (nameofproduct).(company).com, which should-- if the world was right and just-- at least be a redirect to the proper place. It usually works.

    • Fair enough, but that doesn't explain the baffling hordes who type "google" into the google search bar (see Australia, Canada, Germany, India, more).
  • fast risers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tregeagle ( 192408 )

    Its good to see so many non-english fast risers like, tuenti, wer kennt wen and nasza-klasa. Whatever they are...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BluBrick ( 1924 )

      They are all social networking sites. Spanish (tuenti - no translation available from Google), German (Wer-kennt-wen = who knows whom), and Polish(nasza klasa = Our class).

      Apparently even foreigners use Google to find Facebook-y, MySpace-y, time-waste-y websites! Whodathunkit?

      • by Chrisje ( 471362 )

        In other news, Europe just started using Electricity too.


        Hehehehehe... I think if you look around you in the world, no matter what country you're actually from, you'll find that most people on the planet are foreigners.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by digitig ( 1056110 )
      And it's sort of reassuring that a misspelling makes one of the UK top 10s. ("Eaton Mess" should be "Eton Mess")
  • by orkybash ( 1013349 ) <tim.bocek@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:31AM (#26100361)
    Probably more a combination of not remembering the domain extension ("was that wikipedia.com or wikipedia.org?"), combined with getting an annoying squatter 90% of the time if you get it wrong. And yes, I'm aware that in the above example both of them get you to where you need to go
  • And in 2008... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...the submitter still hasn't grasped the "I'm feeling lucky" feature in the browser. Typing facebook in the adressbar in Firefox will use Googles "I'm feeling lucky" thing and take you facebook.com


  • by orbz ( 939720 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:38AM (#26100399) Homepage
    I'd say nerds haven't grasped it, not average users. Now that you can leave www. and .com off your URLs, why wouldn't you? It saves time, provided it gets you to the right site - which most of these pseudoqueries will.
    • Really, what needs to happen nowadays is that Google should separate those "keywords" that exactly match the top-returned URL... then we'd have a better idea of what people are actually *searching* for, versus what they're just trying to access.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Better yet, they could separate out the queries that are coming from Firefox URL bars instead of a search box. Is there any way to tell which is which on Google's end, or do they both use the same protocol? Would the fact that they jump straight to "I'm feeling lucky" be enough, or does the FF URL bar just do exactly what a user would do?

        • I do my google searching through the address bar often too. Only if the I'm feeling lucky fails to give me something useful do I deliberately use the search box. And the great thing is, if there is no clear pagerank leader for search term, it drops to search results anyway.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by FLEB ( 312391 )

          They might be separating out queries. AFAIK, there's a "source=..." or the like attached to Firefox-UI searches, and the language on the Zeitgeist page says "our search team studied the aggregation of billions of search queries people typed in to the Google search box".

    • Please - most of the people in here are still using Lynx (on purpose, just ask them why) to browse teh intartubes...
  • Google Trends (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yotto ( 590067 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:46AM (#26100447) Homepage
    I've been doing a podcast [volcanicast.com] based on the Google Trends, which the Zeitgeist is directly related to, for almost 1.5 years now and I must say, watching the trends weekly (and daily) is an interesting exercise. We actually go through and try to find why things were searched for, and while 90% of the terms are based on TV shows (Predominately Extreme Home Makeover and House), the few that are from other sources (xkcd pops up occasionally, as does Google's ever-changing logo) are where the fun lies. That, and the searches for stuff like "Hot Karl" and "Anal Fissures."
  • Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Qrlx ( 258924 )

    is filled with 'hotmail,' 'yahoo' and 'facebook'

    My roommate had a good one the other day.

    He said, "If you get on YouTube and Google for this video..."

    I... knew what he meant.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      It brings back memories of the days when you didn't knew how to spell Google doesn't it? =P

      As Bryan Adams would had put it: "Those were the best days of my life!", or maybe not, atleast when it came to googl.. searching.

    • Well, isn't youtube owned by google now??? ;)
  • Ah yes, the distant cousin of Santa Clausa.
  • I see "mp3" and "free movies" several times on that list... gee, sure hope the MPAA and/or the RIAA don't see this list!
    • why not? it was probably them that did those searches so they had somebody else to scream at and sue. Now the MPAA and RIAA will want to start censoring google, and the sad thing is google would probably let them do it.
  • India (Score:5, Funny)

    by rite_m ( 787216 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:43AM (#26100653)
    My countrymen are confused. The top ten how-to lists has most people trying to figure out "how to reduce weight" (#1) while some are trying to find "how to gain weight" (#6). Men are trying "to impress a girl" (#9), while women are trying "to get pregnant" (#4).

    And everyone else wants to learn to play guitar, learn english, create a website, make money and kiss (in no particular order).

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:08AM (#26100797)
    I'm not American, you insensitive clod! The first time I heard about Sarah Palin was in a spam email, and I still think Jenna's more talented...
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:09AM (#26100803) Homepage

    The front-end machines at Google have a set of canned replies for common queries. Most queries to Google are in fact answered by the first front-end machine reached, without invoking the main search engine at all. The size of the front-end cache is considered proprietary, but it's not huge.

    Most queries just aren't very original.

  • How come the #6 most popular search term on google.com.au is "google"?

    To delete 3 characters from the address bar? The LAST 3? really??

    Canada ranked "google" #6 most popular as well, though with google.ca we're talking about deleting one and adding two letters, come on give us a break.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I type hotmail into the address bar, it didn't used to take me to the login screen. I always go to google, type in hotmail, and click on it there - then it auto logs in and takes me to my inbox. Much quicker than navigating to it the "proper" way.

  • On my Android phone, I search for websites with URLs that I know because it is faster & easier. I would never do this on a regular computer, where it would be silly, but for mobile devices I think it is a fine and even preferable thing.

  • pr0n? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    where is pr0n?

  • Why did Google remove (some time ago now I know) the browser and OS stats from their Zeitgeist? I can't think of a site that would have more accurate data than them, yet they removed them. :-( I know that there were bound to be some inaccuracies owing to incorrect browser reporting of these things, but not too many, and I thought the Zeitgeist lost a lot when they removed them.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I was on the team that does the Zeitgeist back end when this was done. All I know is that a directive came from very high up (which means, at Google, the top), saying it had to go. We still have the info, obviously (for what it's worth Linux is growing steadily and Mac growth is increasing).
    • by pbhj ( 607776 )

      Perhaps so they could sell the figures?

  • #6 item for "How to" -> How to hack [google.com]

    It looks like script-kiddies are on the rise! ... or never went away.
  • The REAL Zeitgeist of 2008 was the movie "Zeitgeist". Probably the single best piece of film EVER:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-594683847743189197 [google.com]

    Go and educate yourselves people!

    • Zeitgeist is pretty awesome indeed.

      It lets me know who I shouldn't even bother talking to (because they'll believe anything they hear/see, obviously don't do the research and aren't worth the trouble).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by crhylove ( 205956 )

        I don't think your invisible friend wants you trolling for flame wars.

        Most of the research I did personally on religion long before I saw the movie corroborates his views almost exactly.

        I think the movie "9/11 Mysteries" does a much better job than "Zeitgeist" in regards to section two, however.

        As to section three, well, it's pure speculation, tacked on a little poorly at the end, kind of like your "Revelations". Though not done nearly as poorly as old John did those.

        But it's good you know who not to talk

  • Zeitgeist Schmeitgeist.
  • I think the most shocking result is that Chuck Norris is 9th in the fastest rising list for South Africa wtf??
  • Every time I use anyone's computer that has google as their homepage I invariably google a url or two. I'm used to my own systems, which come up with a blank start page, but google.com has that javascript thing that puts the cursor into the search box.

  • I think google's getting higher numbers of searches for well-known services like facebook and hotmail because firefox plugs malformed URLs into google and takes you to the first result. I use this all the time (and it's not related to the awesomebar, I've been using it since 2.0) because I'm lazy and don't feel like typing TLD's sometimes.
  • Hmmm... they translate some of them, don't bother with others.

    For example, #2 on the Chinese fastest-rising list apparently means "Olympic games opening ceremony"; while #4 translates to "Substandard milk powder list" (at least, by Google's own translation engine). There are other interesting things in there, too, if you run the lists through an autotranslator.

  • Fastest rising
    1. wer kennt wen -- social networking site (general)
    2. juegos -- no freaking idea (no, I will not google it!)
    3. facebook
    4. schüler vz -- social networking site (schoolkids)
    5. studi vz -- social networking site (students)
    6. jappy -- social networking site (general)
    7. youtube
    8. yasni -- person search engine

  • Google's zeitgeist doesn't mention any sexual terms, so I guess we've all stopped thinking about sex, eh? They claim that the sexual filter doesn't matter because searches on sexual terms always remain constant and zeitgeist reports only on changes... but there's no way for us to know if this is correct, because we don't get to see the raw information. I'm very skeptical of this myself, because the porn-hounds and sexperts seem to be constantly coming up with new terminology (How are we supposed to know if

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.