Year in Review: 2011

December 16, 2011by

Google Zeitgeist collects the immense amount of data tossed into the Google Search bin, analyzes it, and then displays it in a number of frames that paints a picture of–as the name indicates–the “spirit of the times.” And each year they condense what the world searched for into a brief video highlighting the major events and stories from the past 12 months.

Here’s how the world searched in 2011.

This style of video, which Google also used for its 2010 Superbowl ad, is an interesting blend of storytelling and search as a mirror of knowledge design, i.e. by showing us what masses of people are paying attention to, it gives us a look at the character of public knowledge.

In retrospect it seems that events are the primary forces shaping our world and informing our cultural consciousness. In a obvious way, of course, they are. In real time, though, it’s ideas that fuel the events of the day. It’s the drive to create something of value, fix something broken, and design a better world that paints the deeper picture of what the world is searching for.

This is what I find most interesting and inspiring about 2011: how ideas and aspirations, and what people have done with them, have determined the character of our times.

An overwhelming number of things still need to be changed – as will always be the case – but the events of 2011 and the shifts in power many of them suggest make me excited to see where we are headed in the year to come.

Video Credits

Music: “Sooner or Later” by Mat Kearney
Directed by Scott Chan
Produced by Whirled Creative

“Soldier surprises mom” clip courtesy of the National Geographic Channel, Siskell/Jacobs Productions and Joseph Desira.