Wednesday 26 October 2016

Kim Bielenberg: Craig Doyle and crochet – how Google’s Zeitgeist revealed our guilty secrets

Published 11/12/2012 | 13:16

IRELAND is more interested in Craig Doyle, discovering the meaning of love and learning how to crochet than we ever knew.

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Google has released its annual survey of the top trending and most searched items of this year, and they offer a revealing insight into our preoccupations that is sometimes quirky and surprising.

We may be in the middle of the Great Recession, but issues around budgets, debts, and taxes rarely register in the lists of popular topics and searches. Only the household charge crops up in the top ten list of top trending news searches at number eight, way behind Euro 2012, and the two Katies, Taylor and Middleton.

Early on, the Internet was caricatured as a predominantly male medium, populated by nerds and social inadequates. But women have come to dominate the Google Zeitgeist. Seven out of the Top Ten Trending People in Ireland in 2012 are women, with Katie Taylor and Kate Middleton at the top.

Craig Doyle, whose chatshow was slated by critics and the Twitterati, is perhaps the country’s guilty secret.

He was the top-trending Irish celebrity of 2012, ahead of Hollywood star Michael Fassbender. The Craig Doyle Show was the second most popular TV show in terms of Google searches, behind Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy. The Late Late Show and its host did not even receive a mention.

Doyle’s Google appeal is something of a mystery. Perhaps there is a cringe factor that prompts thousands to Google his name, or maybe many women (or possibly men) secretly fancy him. RTE executives will feel that their touching faith in Doyle has been vindicated.

The Internet was supposed to be a den of all sorts of sordid depravity, but the list of “How to” searches reveals that many Google regulars are a lot more sedate. The top 10 list includes How to Draw, How to Crochet, How to Knit and How to Meditate. It’s hardly 50 Shades of Grey.

Some of the most popular searches are downright bizarre, including one item featured in the “What is …?” category.

One can well understand why searchers would want to find out what “icloud’’, “Instagram” and “Tumblr” are.

But the sixth most popular question in this category is: “What is Soap?”

There is only possible explanation for this. If you reach Googling age, and you do not know what soap is, you would probably be too embarrassed to ask a real person.

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