Watching Google Trends can be strangely addictive, seeing how the top search terms change reacting to breaking news, upcoming holidays, fast-food hoaxes or celebrity scandals. What is especially fascinating is when day turns to night, when searches change from largely news-related to searches for things on that night’s TV, especially nights American Idol is on. It gives a strange insight into aggregated thinking. Google just released its 2008 Zeitgeist, the year’s top search terms. [“S]tudying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box gives us a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times,” says the search company. Indeed it does. (Whether Hegel's rolling or laughing in his grave is another question). Worldwide, the fastest rising search terms were:

1. sarah palin
2. beijing 2008
3. facebook login
4. tuenti
5. heath ledger
6. obama
7. nasza klasa
8. wer kennt wen
9. euro 2008
10. jonas brothers

The fastest rising are those with the highest increase since 2007. Facebook and YouTube are among the top in almost every country,  iPhone in many. The fastest rising search terms in America were:

1. obama
2. facebook
3. att
4. iphone
5. youtube
6. fox news
7. palin
8. beijing 2008
9. david cook
10. surf the channel

In its Trendsetters category, Google notes that trends are rising for searches based on going green, cocktails, social networks, comfort foods, and diy projects.

Going through the data turns up some interesting things: Sarah Palin was the 9th fastest rising term in Australia, emo the fifth fastest rising in the Philippines, Alexander Graham Bell the 5th fastest rising in Hong Kong, Chuck Norris number 9 in South Africa, and Obama number 5 in the United Arab Emerites.

By Mark Alvarez