From the Editors
When the wide-open promise of a new year approaches, you can count on people to do one thing: turn away from the future and safely run backwards. Yes, 'tis the season for year-end lists and recaps. From Rebecca Black to the Kindle Fire, from Weinergate to Steve Jobs, what will we remember about 2011? Depends who's doing the remembering, and what algorithm they're running. At The (Official) Facebook Blog data-dumpster-divers Jonathan Chang and Eytan Bakshy are calling themselves meme-ologists after running an analysis of 800 million-ish status updates, "unearthing the most popular topics and cultural trends - or memes - emerging on Facebook. " They deliver a chart that has "Death of Osama Bin Laden" as its biggest spike, though the chart doesn't have its Y-axis labeled, so who knows exactly what that means? The data nerds say the research "takes the pulse of this global community by comparing this year's status updates to last year's," so, yeah, since Bin Laden was still alive in 2010, that makes a lot of sense, and "Packers win the Super Bowl" (which they didn't do in 2010) does too. Chang notes the emergence of useful new three-letter acronyms - "lms" and "tbh" - for "like my status" and "to be honest" - which will join "hmu" ("hit me up") in the HoF (Hall of Fame). Epicenter notes the prevalence of death and scandal (Charlie Sheen, Casey Anthony) on the meme list and concludes: "It's official - we're living in a TMZ world." More nuggets from this data dump here.
Separately there's a list of the Most Shared Articles on Facebook. These are from legit news organizations, so it's important stuff like #3: No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed (CNN) , #4 Parents, don't dress your girls like tramps (CNN),and #5 (video) - Father Daughter Dance Medley (Yahoo). Ah, misty water-colored meme-ories of the way we were.Know Your Meme, to put it bluntly, knows its memes, so when they come up with a 2011 list you know something something. Their recap begins with the video of Rebecca Black's pop song "Friday" that was viewed by millions and scorned by many - "a moment of realization for many aspiring singers and producers: you don't necessarily have to be the best at what you do to be famous." Next comes "First world problems" - trivial things the overpriviliged bougie class frets about, like "I just used my last Pandora skip for the hour and the next song is even worse." Then comes Occupy Wall Street, and planking, and we're off to the races. Says one commenter at ReadWriteWeb: "It amuses me to imagine a historian 1000s of years from now trying to understand the planking trend." MacRumors notes proudly that Amazon's #1 book of the year is Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs. "The milestone is a remarkable one given that the book did not debut until late October."
What the Trend has added up numbers for Twitter tweets, producing Top Ten trending topic tallies for movies (Harry Potter is #1) TV (Glee), music (Justin Bieber),sports (soccer/football -- love the Euro flair )and news (Japanese earthquake & tsunami). Says Adage: "Justin Bieber still owns Twitter. (Not literally, though. That won't happen until 2012.)" "Everyone knows that being a 'belieber' is trendy," says bieberfan site JBSource.
Then we have the Best of 2011 lists, where quality (or at least subjective opinions about it) outweighs quantity. The Book Lady's Blog looks at the best nonfiction titles that the Book Lady read this year, calling it a year of feminist literature. SceneDaily highlights the best NASCAR races of 2011, from Daytona to Talladega. "The racing was perhaps the best it's been in years and the finishes of several of the hectic battles won't likely be forgotten anytime soon." The 50 best albums of 2011? Ask Rolling Stone for its list ("just a fascinating mess," says Stereogum, which has that top 50, or its brit-rock counterpart NME, which it says is "the second British rock rag to name PJ Harvey's Let England Shake as its album of the year. Those Brits sure do love harrowing battlefield spirit-postcards! " Right! Whatever that means! MTV Style wraps up, for now, with the best Celebrity Nail Art of 2011. "This was the year of unconventional manicures," the blog says, offering stunning photographic evidence. It looks like we may have a winner.