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  • 12.15.11

Google Zeitgeist Video Honors Google, 2011, Rebecca Black

Annual list reveals fastest-growing search terms of the year, while accompanying video highlights people and events behind those terms

Google Zeitgeist Video Honors Google, 2011, Rebecca Black

According to the 2011 Google Zeitgeist list, the top fastest-growing search term of the year was “Rebecca Black.” If that wasn’t sad enough, to help promote the annual list, Google put together a sort of bittersweet video celebrating the many seismic shifts (both figurative and literal) that affected us all in 2011. In amongst the social milestones, there’s also a segment of the video devoted to Google+ (the number two search term according to the report), highlighting users’ eagerness to share videos of that notorious tween chanteuse and similar flavor-of-the-month stories.

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The three-minute Zeitgeist clip unfolds beginning with a Google search for “2011 was a year of.” (A remarkably similar video by Bing counters with “It was a year of,” instead.) As the unseen searcher types in various broad-ranging terms (“revolution,” “remembrance”), the background of the Google screen is filled with corresponding images (a protester in a Guy Fawkes mask, Amy Winehouse.) The search terms and images come faster and faster until representative depictions from the entire year have flashed past.

Next, the video, directed by Scott T. Chan from production company Whirled, takes a look at some of these events through the prism of Google’s various functions (lest we forget whose list we’re celebrating). The map utility is used to explore the Fukashima plant disaster, the Arab Spring uprising, and riots in Greece. Then the News service is revealed to be the place users go to find out about notable deaths; Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Jobs, and Ryan Dunn are all memorialized. The launch of Google+ is the final Google function represented, detailing the kinds of information users share with each other.

The video ends with a camouflage-clad soldier high-fiving a Middle Eastern boy, and the caption, “We made it.” It’s not clear if this tagline is a reference to the fact that we (just barely) survived the various doomsday scenarios prophesized earlier in the year. Considering what number two on the list is, this slogan could be a self-pat on the back for inventing Google+.

Apple also figured prominently on the list, grabbing three of the top 10 slots on the main list for iPhone 5, iPad 2, and Steve Jobs.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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