National News

December 18, 2013

Google’s top searches peer into society’s mindset

SAN FRANCISCO — Death, devices and celebrity drove the quest for more information on Google’s search engine this year.

Three of the world’s four fastest-rising search requests on Google were triggered by the deaths of famous men.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died earlier this month, occupied the top spot, followed by “Fast & Furious” movie star Paul Walker, who died in a Nov. 30 car crash. “Glee” TV series cast member Cory Monteith, who died of a drug overdose in July, ranked fourth in an annual retrospective released Tuesday.

The Boston Marathon bombings in April that killed three people ranked sixth.

The iPhone 5S, the latest upgrade in Apple’s most popular product line, finished third in Google’s rankings. A rival smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, took the eighth spot. PlayStation 4, Sony Corp.’s newest video game console, held the ninth position.

The Top 10 was rounded out by the “Harlem Shake,” a song that inspired a procession of amusing dance videos, at No. 5; “royal baby” Prince George, the heir to England’s throne, at No. 7; and North Korea, whose saber-rattling has become a source of international tension, at No. 10.

Google’s review follows annual round-ups compiled during the previous two weeks by its main search rivals — Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, Yahoo Inc. and Ask.com. Although its list usually comes last each year, Google’s breakdown typically provides the greatest insight into the world’s collective mindset because the company’s technology processes about two out of every three search requests made on the Internet.

Bing ranks a distant second with 18 percent of the U.S. search market, and even less in most other countries. Yahoo, which relies on Bing’s technology, handles the third most search requests.

Because the same inquiries tend to crop up from one year to the next, Google tries to keep its list fresh by focusing on the queries that post the biggest annual gains — a measurement that the Mountain View, Calif., company calls “trending.”

Google also is slicing its vast database of search requests into a hodgepodge of other categories spanning 72 countries, up from 55 last year. In the U.S. alone, Google is compiling more than 90 different lists examining the hottest inquiries about everything from finances to pop culture.

A handful of the rankings are based on the total number of requests entered into Google’s search engine, instead of breaking them down by the variance from last year.

Google’s pecking order of the most-searched people in the U.S. consists exclusively of singers, with the exception of reality-TV show star Kim Kardashian, who is engaged to be married to one of her peers on the list, hip-hop artist Kanye West (she ranks No. 3, while he came in at No. 10). The top spot is held by Miley Cyrus, who also was No. 1 in Yahoo’s search rankings for this year (Kardashian ranked second on Yahoo’s list).

Cyrus, Kardashian and Justin Bieber were the only three people to appear in each of the most-searched lists from Google, Bing and Yahoo. The lists of most-searched people on Google and Bing shared the most in common, with six stars appearing in both categories. Beside Cyrus, Kardashian and Bieber, the other three to make the cut on both Google and Bing were Beyonce Knowles (No. 1 on Bing, No. 5 on Google); Rihanna (No. 3 on Bing, No. 6 on Google); and Taylor Swift (No. 4 on Bing, No. 7 on Google).

The Web surfers who use Bing evidently have quite different tastes in television from those who search on Google.

Only two series, “Big Bang Theory” and “Big Brother” appeared in each of the two rivals rankings’ of the year’s most-searched TV shows. “Big Bang Theory” ranked first on Bing’s list, a distinction held by “Breaking Bad” in Google’s rankings. The two search engines couldn’t agree on the most popular morning news show either, with NBC’s “Today Show “ making it on Bing’s list of most frequent TV requests and ABC’s “Good Morning America” securing a spot on Google’s list.

Google was on its own list of trending stocks this year, ranking No. 4. That’s not a big surprise, given the company’s market value has surged by about 50 percent so far this year, its biggest gain on Wall Street since 2008. That was still not enough to surpass Google rival Facebook Inc. on the list of trendiest stocks. Facebook’s shares have more than doubled so far this year. After Facebook came electric car maker Tesla Motors, whose stock has more than quadrupled this year, and online messaging service Twitter Inc., whose stock has more than doubled since its Wall Street debut last month.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know: This Week’s Takeaways

    Looking back at the stories to remember from the past week:

    April 19, 2014