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December 14, 2011
There is a way to measure it.
(True, it does change moment to moment.)
It's called Zeitgeist.
Johann Gottfried Herder, in 1769, wrote a critique of the work "Genius seculi" and introduced the term.
It's considered a loanword (since they don't want to be stuck with it exclusively) from German Zeit, which means "time" and Geist, which means "spirit."
Put them both together and it spells confusion.
Also supposedly the cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate in a nation.
A tall order, but Google has done it with Google Zeitgeist, which "reveals this spirit through the aggregation of millions of search queries we receive every day."
So who’s on the most searched person list of 2011?
You guessed it:
Singapore’s youngest Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling, who was elected by the People's Action Party.
But she did trump Amy Winehouse and Steve Jobs.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the NBA’ s Nets, who’s on the ballot for the president of Russia in March, is coming on strong.
Not just people, but iPhone, classic comfort food, seasonal allergies, Winnie the Pooh, renewable energy and...well, search me.
It may not be possible, but maybe we can define the spirit of the times without a search engine.
Might be worth a stab.
Zeitgeist doesn't mind short answers.