Happy Day of Twelves. To celebrate 12/12/12, Facebook, Google, and Twitter all chose to publish their Years in Review. (Apparently they all wanted to get them done before the Mayan Apocalypse kicks in.)
What kind of a year was it? Let's compare and contrast. First up, Google.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Golden Gobblers 2012: A year in digital dodos | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]
Google's 2012 Zeitgeist page lists the top 10 searches in 10 categories, as well as top Google+ hashtags (No. 1: #SOPA). Worldwide, the top searches were for the late Whitney Houston, Gangnam style, and Hurricane Sandy. Dead divas, dorky disco, and disaster -- that's Google's 2012 in a nutshell.
U.K. boy band One Direction and its lead heartthrob Harry Styles landed high in three lists (images, people, and performing artists). If those guys had made a movie or operated an airline, they probably would have made those lists too, thus proving that, like Tumblr, Google is secretly (?) run by 13-year-old girls.
Four of the top 10 consumer electronics searches were for Android-based products, three were for Apple, and two were for Microsoft. Tim Cook is probably grinding his teeth over that in Cupertino, but I'll bet Steve Ballmer is buying drinks for the house.
Oddly, the two top trending TV shows, and four of the top ten, hail from Brazil. If not for Honey Boo Boo and "Game of Thrones," there might have been more. (I blame Orkut.)
How about Facebook? Here, "Duck Dynasty" landed as the trendiest TV show, followed by the inevitable "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and "The Big Bang Theory" -- in short, birds, turds, and nerds. "The Hunger Games" was the top movie, and Barack Obama and Mitt Romney edged out One Direction for most talked-about people.
In technology, Instagram far outstripped any other topic (I suspect Facebook's $1 billion purchase of the inexplicably popular mobile app might have contributed to that). Number two was Facebook's own Timeline (ditto), followed by Pinterest. Apple's iPhone (No. 5) and SOPA (No. 7) also made the list.
The top event, according to Facebook, was the U.S. presidential election. Also in there were the Aurora shootings, the Olympics, Superstorm Sandy, the Super Bowl, and Facebook's IPO. Basically, the list alternated between epic events and tragic ones.
The social network also added a nice personal touch: a personalized timeline that picks out "your 20 biggest moments from the year," though it's a mystery how Facebook decides these things. It turns out my biggest moments were grooming Apache and skipping through commercials on my TiVo -- such a rich, rewarding life I lead.