The Internet is a wonderful–and sometimes terrible thing. While subscribing to Internet services is like a virtual gateway to the world and all the things it offers, I sometimes wonder how it has changed our lives and our thinking.
About a month ago I decided to investigate the top Google searches. This was not as easy as I imagined. But I did find some interesting things that you might find entertaining.
Enter Google Zeitgeist. Zeit means “time”, and geist means “spirit”, so it’s pretty much a summary of the “intectual, moral, and cultural climate” over a period of time. I decided to share some of the things that can be found here (and my comments) today.
Fastest Rising Searches Globally of 2008:
Vice presidential candidate beats President for fastest rising search term globally… but not in the US.
…Apparently people in the US don’t know how to type an address in the address bar. And although Obama beat Palin in the US for general searches, “Sarah Palin” was number one for both Google News and Google Images–no Obama on either list.
Google Trends is another feature that shows popular searches–it’s for the current year and broken down to each day. Here’s the top searched query for the last week:
- Monday: boyles furniture (company was celebrating 60 anniversary, featured on the Today Show)
- Tuesday: notehall (website where college lecture notes and study guides can be bought and sold–appeared on ABC show “Shark Tank”)
- Wednesday: wanda sykes wife (lesbian comedian who spoke on HBO about her wife and politics)
- Thursday: brooke astor (American socialite whose son was found guilty of stealing from her)
- Friday: obama nobel peace prize (kinda self-explanatory)
- Saturday: stephen gately (Bandmember of Boyzone died that day)
- Sunday: army wives season 4 (Season 3 ended that night)
My verdict: We care about whatever’s on TV that night…
You might want to check out Google Trends. I have to forwarn you, they are completely different from one day to another and most of them have to do with celebrity gossip and deaths. And you will probably start searching the terms about just to see what the fuss was about!
And, last but not least, enter Google Suggest. This is great. I guess Google fills in the blank based on similar searches from other people–or at least what Google considers to be a pressing concern for most Internet searchers. Here are a few that I found entertaining (warning: this is addicting!):
*Start typing “should my” and the first suggestion is “should my poop float”! Other suggestions include “should my muscles be sore after a workout” and “should my girlfriend hang out with other guys”
*Start typing “what if my” and you find out there’s really only three things that people must worry about: their dogs, poop (again? really?), and periods.
*Start typing “can you g” and EVERY suggestion has to do with pregnancy (especially in concern with periods) except “can you get mono twice”.
*Start typing “why do” and apparently the number one question on people’s minds is “why do men have nipples”. Other pressing issues have to do with dogs, cats, and various bodily functions.
Last but not least… if you ever need to know why…
It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
This is part two of my last post, where I explained why I oppose the spending of stimulus money to get broadband to rural areas. I realized that I made an assumption that is not always true–I assumed that by rural they mean country folk like me, who live over 10 miles from a city. People like us have to drive half an hour or more to get to work and wouldn’t dream of getting pizza delivered, much less Internet services like dsl or cable all the way to our house.
I realized yesterday that rural also means small mountian-side or desert towns and villages that are over 50 miles from a real city. In these cases, there are actual businesses, not just individuals, that don’t have good (or any) Internet access, and that could sure use some help.
From what I’ve been reading, there are multiple references made to individuals who have no access to broadband, and, while my sympathies are with them (don’t forget, that includes me!), I don’t think the government should be buying them broadband Internet!
My main reason for opposing spending our scarce government money (that will eventually be coming out of our pockets) for broadband access to rural areas is because I don’t think most individuals need it badly enough to justify spending billions of dollars.
In my last post I began my research on the primary uses for the Internet. It seems that social networking is the most popular activity, if you look at the most popular websites. But let’s take this a step further.
The last post did not include websites that were search engines, because their purpose is too broad. About half of the top websites were search engines, including the ones we all know and love: Google, Yahoo, Windows Live (now Bing) and MSN. Yesterday I researched the most popular searches to find out more about our online audience.
Google provides a list of the top ten search terms for each year, and top 100 searches for each day, up to today. I began to gather the top searched topic of every day in the month of July to see if I could find a consensus or group them in categories. I am not in the least impressed with us Google-searchers. After the first ten entries of celebrity gossip and who was shot to death that day, I lost interest—and my appetite! If you’re curious, check out Google Hot Trends for all the latest, tasteless gossip. Back to our discussion!
Here is a list from infoplease.com, based on information collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (they’re at it again!), of what people do most online. I took great pains in figuring out how to make a chart and loading it here. Hope you enjoy!
The list was actually much longer, but I decided to show you at least the top 25, only because I had to go that far down to find some uses for the Internet that is clearly work-related. In my opinion, the first 22 are usually not business/work/job related, but many of them can be. Email, for example, is the top activity, and could be both work or pleasure related.
My conclusion, we online users as a whole use the Internet for fun, news (both educational and *ahem* pointless, but interesting), and research. I’m not surprised. And you probably aren’t either.
Here’s one last thought. Look at that list again. Only 3 of those activities usually require a broadband connection (as opposed to dial-up) because of the heavy streaming/real time activity needed to run effectively. So why spend billions of dollars on broadband? There’s a reason why telephone and Internet companies haven’t done it already–it costs too much money to be worthwhile.