'Tis the season for end-of-the-year lists, and the Web's major search engines - Google, Yahoo, Bing and so forth - are out early with theirs. The lists are, of course, good publicity, but sometimes an interesting snapshot of what was on our collective minds.
The search engines say such lists show "top rising searches" of 2012, not necessarily the most-searched items of the year. In other words, these are the things that spiked online, according to formulas the search engines use. People may search in larger numbers for more mundane things, such as "weather" or "pizza" - but they always are. On the other hand, Whitney Houston died in 2012, so people who hadn't looked her up lately suddenly had reason.
So here are different lists, from different companies. Bring them to a holiday party and see if they start a conversation.
GOOGLE: U.S. Trending Searches in 2012:
1. Whitney Houston
2. Hurricane Sandy
3. Election 2012
4. Hunger Games
5. Jeremy Lin
6. Olympics 2012
7. Amanda Todd
8. Gangnam Style
9. Michael Clarke Duncan
10. Kony 2012
YAHOO: Top Searches Overall in 2012:
2. iphone 5
3. kim kardashian
4. kate upton
5. kate middleton
6. whitney houston
8. political polls
9. lindsay lohan
10. jennifer lopez
BING: Most Searched News Stories:
1. iPhone 5
2. 2012 Election
3. 2012 Olympics
4. Hurricane Sandy
5. Honey Boo Boo Reality Show
6. Gangnam Style Dance
7. KONY 2012
8. Academy Awards
9. Kindle Fire HD
10. Facebook IPO
ASK: Top Celebrity Search Terms (Ask.com invites users to frame searches as questions):
1. Kristen Stewart. Will Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart get back together?
2. Katie Holmes. Was Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's marriage fake?
3. Psy - Gangnam Style. What does Gangnam Style mean?
4. Snooki. When is Snooki's baby due?
5. Prince Harry. What will happen to Prince Harry because of the nude pictures?
6. Brad Pitt. How big is Angelina's engagement ring?
7. Carly Rae Jepsen. What is the best "Call Me Maybe" parody?
8. Jessica Biel. When are Justin and Jessica getting married?
9. Miley Cyrus. Why did Miley Cyrus cut her hair?
10. Ryan Lochte. Does Ryan Lochte have a girlfriend?