2014: The Year In Search - InformationWeek

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12/30/2014
09:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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2014: The Year In Search

You can learn a lot about a person from search engine history. Explore some of the year's top search topics, according to Google and Bing.
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They know when we are sleeping. They know when we're awake. They know when we've been bad or good. They're our search engines. Our search engines know us individually and collectively. If you went back and checked every search term you put into Google or Bing, you'd probably have a pretty good review of your life for a given year. Google and Bing just did that for the whole world, and there are a few interesting things to learn from it.

For my part, I went back and looked at my own search history. I know why I searched for the Garmin Vivofit: I'm hoping to get into better shape. I searched Ticketmaster to remind myself of the Pearl Jam Ticketmaster fracas of the 90's, but much to my shame, while I was there I bought my daughter tickets to a show. Pearl Jam would probably be mad. For the life of me, I still can't remember why I searched "Lil' Wayne Lotta Wayne." Sometimes mystery is best, I suppose.

Not only can we learn a lot about ourselves by what we search, but we can learn a lot about people based on where they search. For instance, a quick eyeballing of the searches leads me to believe Google search users are more interested in social justice -- or perhaps crime. Google's top searched athletes -- Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson -- were both in serious legal trouble this year. But neither one made Bing's top athlete search -- Bing users seem to prefer basketball, with Lebron James and Michael Jordan topping the list. Only one name, the retiring Derek Jeter, was on both top 10 lists.

With those differences in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a tour through the top searches on both Google and Bing to see some of the most interesting results, what differences we could find, and what those searches say about us. (Apologies, but I stuck with mostly American and global search results since other searches are listed in native languages.)

Click on the arrow below to get started. Then tell us about your favorite searches of the 2014. What will you be searching in 2015? Also, tell us what you think your favorite search engine says about you.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 11:57:43 AM
Re: Story of our lives
Wow, looking at some of these searches (Top Celeberity Pregnancy?) makes me realize I must be getting old - I don't recognize half these names.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 11:36:39 AM
Re: Story of our lives
Dave, I think you are right. I think our search histories do tell a lot about us as a country and as individuals. I am surprised Kim Kardashian didn't make the list. It is funny how we searched Janelle Evans and Ashton Kutcher. I am not surprised by Robin Williams though. I wasn't much of a fan, but I know that people of all ages and demographics really liked his movies.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 11:30:40 AM
Re: Story of our lives
I am not surprised by the "how to" searches. I search "how to" a lot and "DIY" on Google and Youtube.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 11:21:17 AM
Re: Story of our lives
Wow, sadly I never even considered the waste of clean water used in the Ice Bucket challenges this past summer. Good point. The challenge was for a good cause, but to think about how many people lack clean water to bathe in and to drink makes me feel sad. I am second guessing my participation in the challenge now after viewing the pic and caption you posted. I could have just donated money instead of doing the challenge. Then again, I think the ice bucket challenge raised awareness to donate for the cause.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
12/30/2014 | 3:04:33 PM
Story of our lives
Dave its true our search history over the years is very interesting the searches reflect current events and also points in time in our lives ---some happy and some sad. It would be interesting to display our search history in a  word cloud and then compare them year over year. It would certainly tell the story of our lives. The same would be true for the most popular search terms on the major engines. I can bet some popular search terms in the New Year will center on the financial markets and the new tech IPOS as well as the inevitable data breaches we are sure to hear about after the holidays!
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