It used to be that people complained that New York and Hollywood were setting the cultural agenda.

But now it’s the Silicon Valley search and social media companies that seem to dictate what’s hot and what’s not. Not, however, through direct creation of content. Rather, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter function as tools to find and express what masses of people are interested in. Thus, the release of their year-end reports on top topics are treated as an illumination of what the culture had on its mind during the previous 12 months.

I’m finding this year’s lists especially interesting, as Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, and Facebook all report that Marcel Proust’s great literary masterwork, “In Search of Lost Time,” was the No. 1 searched-for topic among all American web users this year.

Ha ha ha. Not really. But if you don’t like the ascension of Justin Bieber as a topic of national conversation this year, what can you do? You either believe the data, or blame it on the fact that your 12-year-old knows how to use Twitter and you don’t.

Here are the lists:

Google Zeigeist Top U.S. Search Terms

  1. ipad
  2. chat roulette
  3. iphone 4
  4. world cup
  5. justin bieber
  6. myxer
  7. facebook
  8. grooveshark
  9. glee
  10. mocospace

Personal Don’t-Know-What-That-Is-Index: 3 out of 10

Yahoo! Year in Review

  1. BP Oil Spill
  2. World Cup
  3. Miley Cyrus
  4. Kim Kardashian
  5. Lady Gaga
  6. iPhone
  7. Justin Bieber
  8. American Idol
  9. Britney Spears

Personal Have-Never-Seen-That-Person-Perform-Index: 3 of 10

Facebook 2010 Memology: Top Status Trends of the Year

  1. HMU (stands for hit me up)
  2. World Cup
  3. Movies
  4. iPad and iPhone 4
  5. Haiti
  6. Justin Bieber
  7. Games on Facebook
  8. Chilean miners
  9. lyrics of the international hit song “Airplanes”
  10. personal events due to occur in 2011

Personal Don’t-Know-What-That-Is-Index: 2 out of 10

Twitter 10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010

  1. Journalist Ann Curry: usairforce find a way to let Doctors without Borders planes land in Haiti.
  2. White House: Welcome to @twitter President Medvedev! RT @KremlinRussia_E: Hello everyone! I’m on Twitter, and this is my first tweet.
  3. P.R. woman Leigh Fazzina: I’ve had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can somone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I’m stuck bike crash in woods.
  4. Satirical BPGlobalPR: Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy.
  5. President of Ecuador: Declares state of emergency — Gobierno declara estado de Excepción
  6. Clarence House: (Prince of Wales’ private office) The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton –
  7. SUN CEO Jonathan Schwartz: Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more
  8. John M Foster, campaign manager to unseated Idaho Rep Walt Minnick: Congratulations to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.
  9. Carles Puyol, member of World Cup winner Spain’s team: Gran ambiente en la rua!!orgulloso de ver a tanta gente feliz.
  10. Conan O’Brien: I’m headed to your town on a half-assed comedy & music tour. I repeat: It’s half-assed.

Personal Didn’t-Hear-About-That-Index: 2 out of 10.

Silicon Valley Zeitgeist: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter Year-End Lists 14 December,2010Jon Brooks

  • Lance Irby

    Jon great post and niche you have here. With your permission I plan to post this list on my grandmothers front door at her beautiful assisted living home. I will see her on X-mas and I cannot wait to find out how many of these 2010 search terms she can recognize….. ps. Grandma Erris loves Wheel of Fortune so she will love this! Thanks, Lance

    • Jon Brooks

      Sure Lance. Don’t forget to report back to us… Jon

  • Pingback: Google Tool Tracks Words and Phrases Over 200 Years | Social Media Master()


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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