Face of Flanders — Zeitgeist
English, you’ll have noticed, has no word for Zeitgeist. Nevertheless, there’s nothing we like better than to take apart the trends of the moment. Hence the popularity of Google’s annual Zeitgeist report, the latest of which has just been released.
Blame the economic crisis, but the fastest-growing search queries in 2009 in Dutch-speaking Belgium were the word goedkoop (cheap) followed by the words for airfare, holidays, petrol, loans, city trips, excursions, weekends, tiles and clothing. Clearly, Flanders is trying to save money, though the prevalence of travel shows that things haven’t yet got tough enough to keep people from getting going. The only stay-at-homes appear to be DIY enthusiasts putting down tiles (or putting them up, depending).
Among the “hottest tickets” of 2008 were homegrown events like techno party Tomorrowland (number four on the Belgian list), pop festival Pukkelpop (first) and stand-up gigs by Alex Agnew (pictured), the Anglo-Flemish comedian (10th). Other hot tickets common to the rest of the world were gigs by Madonna, U2 and Michael Jackson (which never happened).
The most popular search queries of the year were, in descending order: Facebook, YouTube, Netlog, Hotmail, Google, video, jeux, Yahoo, Wikipedia and MSN. The internet obviously dominates searchers’ thoughts, no matter how odd it may seem to use Google to search for a website, rather than simply add .com to the word itself. And who used Google to search for Google?
Google’s results are not always split by language, but in the fastest-rising categories, both sides of the language divide are represented. At number three is météo belgique, at numbers eight and nine stemtest and gentse feesten. The rest is universal: pc banking, Zumba, eBay, and the ubiquitous Facebook and YouTube.
On a global level, it’s the oddities that prove interesting, rather than the expected poll-leaders (like Michael Jackson). The global fastest-rising list includes terms like tuenti, sanalika and torpedo gratis, which will doubtless require more internet searching from our readers. Entertainment includes names like naruto shippuden, peliculas id and poker face lyrics. The fastest-rising search in food and drink was acai berry, no doubt in response to the recent spate of acai-oriented spam.
The biggest declines in internet searching, in the meantime was Beijing 2008, followed by Euro 2008. Also on the way out: Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Barack Obama, kraloyun and emule – the last two being, respectively, a games site and a filesharing application.