Internet giant Google is marking its tenth anniversary in Ireland by publishing a list of Irish web surfers’ most-searched-for topics. The results indicate that Irish people are most interested in celebrity death, sex and gossip. What a surprise!
The company, which opened its Dublin office in 2004 with five employees, now employs 2,500 workers in a large complex off the Grand Canal Dock. The facility is Google’s largest office outside of the U.S.
2004: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during her famous “wardrobe malfunction.". Source: En.wikipedia.org
On their site, Google lists the top Irish searches by year. In 2004, technical terms like PHP, XML, HTML and SAP led the “what is” search list, which also included “what is broadband.” “What is Love” came in at number eight, showing that even the nerdiest hearts could be lonely sometimes.
Sports fans googled the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Euro Cup and the Ryder Cup. People searches focused on Ken Bigley, Nick Berg, both of whom were abducted and killed by Islamist militants in Iraq. Janet Jackson, who famously flashed her boob during the Super Bowl, edged out David Beckham superfan Rebecca Loos for the third spot.
2005: George Best. Source: www.1001experiencias.com
In 2005, Gmail, Bebo and Google Earth were the top trending topics, while the “what is” list wrestled with big questions like “what is creativity” before going back to technical queries: VOIP, BitTorrent and J2EE. There were hints of economic concerns, with users asking about counseling, marketing and equity.
Trending people included sports figures George Best and Roy Keane, as well as Pope Benedict and Kate Moss. Future “James Bond” star Daniel Craig just made the top ten in the last slot.
2006: Bebo was Ireland's dominant social media network.
In 2006, the social media craze was in full swing in Ireland, with Bebo heading the “what is” and trending search lists. Irish people were focused on social and health issues, with Psychology, Scientology, MS and ADHD all making the top ten “what is” list.
Eager to delve into the world’s untapped treasure trove of cat videos and spaghetti-flinging babies, Irish googlers made YouTube the second-most searched topic, followed by World Cup, reality show “Celebrity Love Island” and the Ryder Cup. Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin’s tragic death topped the People searches, followed by Richard Hammond (who survived a race car crash), Zinedine “Red Card” Zidane and Irish comedienne Twink.
2007: Anna Nicole Smith. Source: cbsnews.com
By 2007, the Irish were old hands at the social media lark, with Skype topping the “what is” search list and new kid on the block Facebook making an appearance in the search terms list. The Big Questions still preoccupied the populace, with queries like “what is strategy” and “what is communication” near the top of the list. Reflecting the Celtic Tiger burnout, many people asked “what is work?” and “what is philosophy?”
People searches were largely somber, with the deaths of Irish model Katy French, Luciano Pavarotti, Chris Benoit and Anna Nicole Smith, and the disappearance of toddler Madeleine McCann all making the top ten.
2008: Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Source: Google Images
By 2008, the world economy was headed for a meltdown, and there are a few hints in the top Irish search queries. While the JJ Abrams monster movie “Cloverfield” tops the list, it is followed by questions about stress and sociology, PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods).
New technology is on the horizon, with questions about 3G service for mobile devices. Apparently, everybody’s mom started using email all of a sudden, because there are a lot of panicked queries about what exactly is Bcc. Facebook again topped the popular search terms list, though the country’s large Polish immigrant community pushed Polish social network Nasza Klasa to number two.
On the people side, the list is happily light on dead celebrities, though the late Heath Ledger nudged out U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama for the top spot. Was Sarah Palin number three? You betcha.
2009: Natasha Richardson. Source: People.com
Financial collapse and its associated anxiety left their mark on 2009, with “What is Nama (National Asset management Agency)” and “What is Chronophobia (fear of time)” coming in at first and third, respectively on the list of searches. “What is sleep” and “what is cancer” are also on the list. Looking at the topics list, people were having trouble remembering their “Facebook login” (number one) either because they were distracted by bargain hunting on “DoneDeal” (number two) or dipping their toes into Twitter (number three).
The untimely deaths of Michael Jackson, Jane Goody and Stephen Gately topped the People search list, with philandering golfer Tiger Woods coming in with a four (make that a four iron smashed through the window of his SUV). The list is made even more depressing with searches about actresses Brittany Murphy and Natasha Richardson, who also died suddenly that year.
2010: A nation turns its lonely eyes to Jedward. Source: Google Images
In 2010, Irish people demanded to know what Wikileaks were, putting it in the top search position. They were also (oddly) obsessed with Myrrh and with NAMA (again), and many found themselves asking the perfectly reasonable question, “What is Movember?” (The answer: a cancer charity whose supporters grow MOustaches in NoVEMBER, naturally.) Proving that Romantic Ireland is neither dead nor gone, “What is spooning?” came in at number eight.
Less romantic, but certainly social was the top search topic, Chatroulette. This was followed by the Hatfields-vs.-McCoys-style rivalry between Gmail and Hotmail, numbers two and three, respectively. Fox’s sing-along hit, “Glee” came in at number four, confirming that one should never stop believin’ -- in Google notoriety, that is.
On the People search side, only one deceased celebrity made the list: Irish broadcaster Gerry Ryan. The balance was divided between singers, athletes and eejits: Justin Bieber, Wayne Rooney, Jedward, Kim Kardashian and Cheryl Cole. (You can decide for yourselves which is which.) Miley Cyrus, three years away from her Twerking prime, rounded out the list.
2011: The many sides of Pippa Middleton. Source: Mirror.co.uk
In 2011, some lady married one of the Royals in a big fancy wedding in England, but as far as the Irish were concerned, Pippa Middleton and her perky bottom were the stars of the day – and topped the people search list. By way of contrast, her sister the Duchess trailed behind at number five on the list. Coming in at number four was Apple founder, the late Steve Jobs. The saddest spot on the list is number eight, held by tragic Michaela Harte, who was murdered while on her honeymoon.
In other news, Irish people were still curious about spooning, but their other concerns were divided between Harry Potter trivia (Pottermore) and heath, with searches for Bipolar, Reiki, Thrush and Mono making the list. With the economy in the toilet, they were even more obsessed with getting a bargain, with DoneDeal now getting the top spot in trending topics.
2012: Olympic medalist Katie Taylor. Source: rte.ie
Echoing every teen movie from the 1980s, the Irish people made “What is love” the top question of 2012. This was followed by ruminations on Cloud (the storage technology, not the fluffy white things), Scientology, Instagram and Autism. Alarmingly, the sixth most popular question was “What is Soap?” which doesn’t bode well for those relying on crowded public transport.
Trending search topics included Euro 2012, streaming movie service Netflix, the 2012 Olympics and controversy over the Household Charge. The tragic deaths of abducted Welsh toddler April Jones and Irish ex-pat Jill Meagher were also frequent search topics.
Boxer Katie Taylor headed up the People search terms thanks to her Olympic achievements, followed by Kate Middleton and her reproductive achievements. Whitney Houston’s shocking death on the eve of her triumphant comeback put her on the list, while Rosanna Davison’s triumphant appearance in Playboy put her at number six.
2013: Miley Cyrus put her twerking gear into motion at the VMAs. Source: Celebuzz.com
So far in 2013, the burning question for Irish web searchers is “What is Snapchat?” followed by queries on fracking, KPMG, austerity and Spotify.
The People searches are more obsessed with scandal and controversy than death this year, though the shocking drug-related demise of “Glee” star Cory Monteith put him in the top spot. Sadly, “Sopranos” actor James Gandolfini’s death put him in fourth place.
And while Miley Cyrus didn’t make the list on top People searches, her signature move has prompted perplexed Irish googlers to ask, “What is Twerking?”
To see the complete list of Ireland’s most popular Google search terms over the past ten years, visit www.google.ie/about/birthday.