An Alphabetical Google Zeitgeist

This page is a mirrored copy of an article originally posted on the LShift blog; see the archive index here.

I’ve installed Firefox 2.0 on most of the machines I work on daily now. Its use of google suggestions surprised me when I first saw it, but I’ve grown to find it somewhat useful on occasion now. It suggested the following experiment (not in so many words, of course): assuming that the suggestions it supplies are based on popularity of search terms (presumably filtered by google’s safe-search feature!), then the suggestions ought to reflect the zeitgeist to a certain extent - what does it suggest for each letter of the alphabet? The results weren’t exactly surprising. No philosophy, very little science, technology, literature or art; nothing but wall-to-wall Britney, Ebay and “U tube” (!). The A-to-Z follows below.

This list was taken from the top results from the google search suggestion box in Firefox 2.0 on 30 Jan 2007:

  • A is for Amazon
  • B is for Britney Spears, Best-Buy
  • C is for Circuit City, Craigslist
  • D is for Dictionary, Dell
  • E is for Ebay
  • F is for Facebook
  • G is for Google, Gmail, Google Earth, Google Maps, …
  • H is for Hotmail
  • I is for IMDB, iPod
  • J is for John Lewis, JCPenney and Jobs
  • K is for Kohls, K-Mart
  • L is for Lyrics, Limewire
  • M is for Myspace
  • N is for Nintendo Wii
  • O is for Office Depot
  • P is for Paypal
  • Q is for Quotes
  • R is for Runescape
  • S is for Sears, Staples, Skype
  • T is for Target, Toys-R-Us, Tesco
  • U is for U Tube (sic), UPS
  • V is for Video, Verizon Vodafone and Virgin
  • W is for Wikipedia, Walmart
  • X is for Xbox 360
  • Y is for Yahoo, Youtube
  • Z is for Zip Codes (and after a few places, oddly, Zilog)


On 29 March, 2008 at 12:57 am, Britney Spears Lover wrote:

B is for Britney… makes sense. Why would you expect science or humanities to be top hits? Oh, I’m sure bored teens spend there afternoons googling for Isaac Netwon or Thomas a’Kempis….
This list is completely what I would expect, with the exception sadly of the word P. I was expecting much worse.