Sunday, December 16, 2018

The year in search – 2018

The video above is Google’s “year in search” for 2018. Google tells us that, “the world searched for ‘good’ more than ever before”. There’s plenty to said—or speculated on—as to why this might be the case, but I think we should just skip that: People wanted to look up “good” things, and that’s, well, good.

Google says: “Lists are based on search terms that had the highest spike this year as compared to the previous year.” That suggests that the popular searches we also temporary, at least some of the time. But, then, that’s kind of the point of searching: We become aware of something, like a topic or a person, and we want to know more about it.

The top rankings by country tell us in more detail about what, specifically, people wanted to know more about. That makes them more revealing than any of these videos could do.

The top 5 overall searches for the world were: 1 World Cup, 2 Avicii, 3. Mac Miller, 4 Stan Lee, 5 Black Panther. The top 5 global news searches were: 1 World Cup, 2 Hurricane Florence, 3. Mega Millions, 4 Royal Wedding, 5 Election Results.

The top 5 overall searches for the USA were: 1 World Cup, 2. Hurricane Florence, 3 Mac Miller, 4 Kate Spade, 5 Anthony Bourdain. The top 5 news searches in the USA were: 1 World Cup, 2 Hurricane Florence, 3. Mega Millions, 4 Election Results, 5. Hurricane Michael. The fact that this news list is so similar to the global list suggests that the USA really does dominate global searches.

Normally, I share Google’s top 5 overall searches for New Zealand, but they haven’t made that publicly available yet. Fortunately, Radio New Zealand has published a piece on “What Kiwis searched for on Google this year”. According to them, the top five overall searches in NZ were: 1 World Cup, 2 Stuff news NZ, 3 Commonwealth Games, 4 Census NZ, and 5 Cyclone Gita. The most-searched things in news were: 1. Census NZ, 2. Cyclone Gita, 3. Royal Wedding, 4. Thai cave rescue, 5. Jacinda Ardern’s baby. The RNZ report on the searches was interesting, but when TVNZ re-published it on their One News site, they deleted all references to Google, which means that it wasn’t clear where the data came from. Sure, we could guess what it was based on, but we couldn’t know for sure. For a site that’s supposed to report news, the lack of any detail was shockingly sloppy and stupid.

What I personally find so interesting about these annual summaries is that they give us a snapshot of life in a given year. The videos Google makes kind of dramatise and animate that data, but it’s the lists themselves that are the interesting part. They tell us what captured our attention, even if we don’t necessarily know why, at least, not without more research.

We humans are curious by nature, and we want to understand things. That’s what the searches really show. It, too, is good.

And, it was nice to see the New Zealand Prime Minister, her partner and newborn baby were in the video, too. That was good for a whole lot of reasons.

Related previous posts:
The Year in Search – 2017
The Year in Search – 2016
The Year in Search 2015
Spirit of the Times – 2014
Visual Reminders

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