BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: In Depth: dot life  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
dot life Monday, 16 December, 2002, 11:50 GMT
A snapshot of 2002

The annual statistics from search engines such as Google offer an insight into the year's events and obsessions.
It took TV cook Delia Smith 30 years to become a noun, adjective and verb. But it has taken less than five years for the online search engine Google to do the same.

Winter Olympics
World Cup
Avril Lavigne
Google has become indispensable to many web users and the verb "to google" as well as the words "googling" and "googlism" have entered the language.

The search engine has become such a part of web culture that statistics on the 55 billion queries carried out on Google in the past 12 months offer a snapshot of the year's events, as well as net-users' current obsessions.

The top gaining query of 2002 was Spider-man, with the film's stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst proving to be a draw online as well as in the movie theatres.

Nostradamus: Prophet warning
The top declining query of 2002 was Nostradamus, the 16th Century French astrologer and prophet, who rose to prominence again after 11 September 2001 when several fake stanzas attributed to him did the rounds.

On Lycos, Nostradamus dropped from number 9 in 2001 to 309th. Did he see that coming?

Evidence that the net is the province of the young is plain to see, and not just because Spongebob Squarepants is popular with Google users. Computer games and pop stars feature heavily in the year's most popular queries.

A bit saucy

The continental drift of the popularity of Spain's Las Ketchup can be traced via a handy chart that Google provides.

In January some prescient souls in the UK and the US were looking for the band, but their popularity really started to take off from March.

As spring turned into summer, net-users in Italy caught on to the pop phenomenon and at the same time, interest peaked in the US. In September, the band went massive in Germany and steadily grabbed attention in the UK.

Eminem at the premiere of his film 8 Mile
Eminem's acting debut helped fuel interest
Despite this huge success, Las Ketchup did not make the list of the top music acts searched for in 2002 - these instead were the likes of Metallica, Nelly and Shakira.

According to Google, the Colombian popstress was steadily popular all year and was only topped by Jennifer Lopez and Eminem. Mr Mathers was the most searched for musician of the year and the most searched for man in both text and image form.

Among British stars, our top man was Gareth Gates, closely followed by David Beckham. Mr Posh was also the number two man in Japan, and he was top searched for athlete overall.

A life online

The top brands of the year held some surprises. Top of the list was Ferrari - no real surprise there - but Nokia came in at three, Ikea at five and cut-price airline Ryanair was the 7th most searched for company.

Tattooed man, AP
The term "tattoo" continued to be popular
Perhaps not surprisingly, the French steered their own course. The top searched for brand in the country was the French railway SNCF, which was the most popular query in the country overall. French net-users were also keen on free text messages and jobs via ANPE.

With technology searches, MP3 beat all comers to the top spot, edging out Xbox and SMS.

Given that in some countries half the population is online, it surely won't be long before online life will be an accurate mirror of real life, rather than the isolated snapshot it is now.

And when that happens the geeks will truly have inherited the Earth.

Every Monday looks at how technology has changed our lives, and more importantly how we would like to change our lives. Let us know your views, using the form below.

Send us your comments:


Your E-mail address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Weely guide to getting buttoned up

See also:

30 Sep 02 | Technology
25 Oct 02 | Technology
22 Jan 01 | dot life
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more dot life stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more dot life stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |