The year in tweets, trends, and tags: All you need to know about 2012

Google, Facebook, and Twitter spill the beans on our favorite topics of the past year -- no wonder the apocalypse is nigh

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For my money, Twitter's year in review was the most interesting of the three. The most popular tweet was a photo sent out by the Obama team after the president's re-election, followed by one from Justin Bieber (see 13-year-old girls, above).

In Twitter's Pulse of the Planet section, we learn that six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt generated 80,000 tweets per minute (TPM), but he finished a distant second to the Spice Girls reunion during the closing ceremonies, who clocked in with 116,000 TPM.

Instead of pure popularity, Twitter also measured "noteworthy spikes in Twitter conversations," giving the microblog complete leeway over what to include. For example, AT&T was at the top of Twitter's tech list, followed by the iPhone and Instagram. (Apple took three of the top 10 spots; Google, Microsoft, and Facebook were shut out.) The top three TV shows on Twitter were "Family Guy," "Big Brother 14," and "American Dad." The top restaurants? IHOP, Starbucks, and Waffle House. Sounds like Twitter fans need to seriously start watching their carbs.

My favorite: The Only on Twitter section, which showcased unusual ways people chose to use the microblog. This year, director James Cameron sent a tweet from nearly 36,000 feet below sea level, while climber Nobukazu Kuriki tweeted from Everest, nearly 30,000 feet above. Astronaut Sunita Williams shared photos of Hurricane Sandy from the International Space Station, and NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski tweeted at speeds approaching 200mph (kids, don't try this at home). The National Zoo even tweeted the artificial insemination of Mei Xiang, a 13-year-old giant panda.

What grand conclusion can we draw from all of this? That the Internet is really run by 13-year-olds. Whether they're girls or pandas, though, is still unclear.

What do you think was this year's biggest Internet thingie? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "The year in tweets, trends, and tags: All you need to know about 2012," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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