We are what we search for. Whether that's a hopeful pronouncement or a troubling one, I'm not sure yet. I'm leaning toward the latter.
This is of course the time of year when the major data collection machines -- better known to us mere mortals as search engines and social networks -- publish their year-end summaries.
[ For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. | Check out InfoWorld TechBrief, your source for quick, smart views on the news you'll be talking about -- subscribe today. ]
My summary of their summaries: 2013 was a good year to be a former Disney princess turned bad girl or a dead celebrity. For the rest of us, not so much.
Down the YouTube
YouTube served up two lists for 2013: its most popular music videos and its top "trending" ones, half of which are also music videos. (If someone out there can explain the difference between trending and popular, I'm all ears.) Regarding the music portion, South Korean sensation Psy scored the top slot with "Gentleman M/V," a video so awful I actually started to miss "Gangnum Style." But thank God for Psy, because otherwise the top two music videos for 2013 would both be from Miley Cyrus: "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop" (but we really wish you would).
The top two trending YouTube videos both hail from Norway: "What Does the Fox Say?" by pop band Ylvis (not to be confused -- ever -- with Elvis), plus yet another version of "Harlem Shake," this one performed by a Norwegian Army platoon. Yes, Norway has an army. No, we don't care what the fox says, thank you. But apparently somebody does; that truly insipid video was watched nearly 290 million times.
Kinda makes you long for a zombie apocalypse, doesn't it?
The year in Yahoo
Yahoo also served up its list of top search terms for 2013, this one dominated by celebrities. Number one on the hit parade? Yes, the gal who made the term "twerking" mainstream. Proving that outrageousness gets you attention, if not critical adulation, Cyrus wrested the top spot from a preggers Kim Kardashian. Also in the top 10: Selena Gomez, Kate Upton, Amanda Bynes, and Justin Bieber. At age 27 (67 in Mouse years) Bynes is the oldest of that crowd by six years.
Yahoo also provided a look back through its top searches to the year 2001. The winner by a landslide: Miley Cyrus's spiritual godmother, Britney Spears, who snagged the top spot four times in 13 years. In the process, she also proved what most of us have already suspected: Yahoo's audience is primarily teenage girls and dirty old men.