Australians are more interested in learning how to dance Gangnam Style and who won The Voice than they are in Julia Gillard's 'misogyny' speech and following the US election, Google's top searches for 2012 reveal.
Google's Zeitgeist, German for 'the spirit of the times', measures the top trending searches — the terms that have seen the largest increase over the past year — as well as the most popular search terms overall.
''The Zeitgeist is a cultural barometer that gives us a feel for where everyone's going,'' said Google spokesman Shane Treeves.
PSY's K-pop hit Gangnam Style was the top trending Google search in Australia this year. It has racked up nearly 1 billion views on YouTube. The entertainment-dominated top three searched items was rounded out by Channel Nine's The Voice and boy band One Direction. Searches for sex and pornography are omitted from the results.
Lara Bingle edged out Miranda Kerr as the most-searched Australian celebrity, while Kate Middleton was pipped at the post by Whitney Houston in the trending people stakes. Houston, who died in February, also topped the most-searched celebrity deaths list.
Australians were also keen to answer life's burning questions, with searches that begin with 'how to ...' most commonly ending in 'love', as well as 'rock' and 'change'.
''It was great fun to see that people are looking to really amp up the relationship this year,'' said Treeves, though he conceded the popularity of 'how to love' might have something to do with a hit song by Lil Wayne of the same name.
Leading the top-trending searches for terms that begin with 'what is ...?' was 'sopa' (the US bill 'Stop Online Privacy Act'), followed closely by 'permeate' — a watery, greenish by-product from the production of cheese that Fairfax Media revealed in April was forming 16 per cent of fresh milk.
The most-searched athlete was Lance Armstrong, who has suffered a tumultuous year laden with drug accusations, followed by Usain Bolt. Australians Stephanie Rice, Sally Pearson and the late Jim Stynes also featured in the top 10.
Gangnam Style was also the top-trending song, followed by Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe and Skinny Love, a Bon Iver song covered this year by British singer Birdy. No Australian songs featured in the top-trending Australian searches for songs.
The top three trending television shows were the Australian reality shows The Voice, Big Brother and The Shire. Revenge, Game of Thrones and Alcatraz were the only US shows to make the top 10 Down Under.
Hurricane Sandy, Julian Assange and 'Misogynist' (referring to Julia Gillard's parliamentary speech that went viral around the world) feature on the most-searched news moments, but Barack Obama and the US election were notably absent.
This could be due to the fact that the election was held in November, said Treeves. ''It probably hasn't had much time to trend as some other terms may have,'' he said.
In contrast, Twitter's top trends for 2012 was topped by a photo of Obama embracing his wife, tweeted by the President with the caption 'Four more years' as his re-election was confirmed. With more than 817,000 retweets, it was the most re-posted tweet of 2012 and all time.
On Twitter, the London Olympics was the most talked about event, with 150 million tweets sent over 16 days. The Games came in fifth place in Australia's top trending Google searches.
This reveals a divide between the uses of Google and Twitter, said Dr Toni Johnson-Woods from the University of Queensland. ''Twitter is used more for news and politics, and Google is used for social entertainment,'' she said.
Google, which receives more than 1 billion searches every year, also released the absolute top search terms for 2012 (as opposed to those that have seen the biggest increase in popularity).
Topping the list by a long shot was 'Facebook', followed distantly by 'YouTube' and people googling 'Google'.