Last year, deceased pop icon Michael Jackson and other news-making celebrities of 2009 grabbed the attention on the Internet. But this year, it seems, it's the stars of Silicon Valley -- and not Hollywood -- that set the Web on fire.
Geek is officially chic, at least according to the standard-bearer of geek culture, Google.
The tech giant today released its annual "zeitgeist" report on the hottest Web searches of 2010 -- and seven of the top 10 fastest-rising U.S. searches of the year reference popular technology products and Web services.
"What we're seeing in 2010 in the U.S., based on our look at the top-rising queries, is really that technology is a really big theme," said Jonathan Effrat, a product manager on Google's search team. "It's really taking off compared to last year."
Twitter may have topped the list last year and Facebook ranked number 3, but this year's list shows that interest in technology has really ballooned, he said. Even the sole celebrity to make the list -- teen idol Justin Bieber (who ranked fifth) -- started out as an Internet sensation.
The World Cup, which grabbed the fourth spot on the list, made Internet history of its own by breaking records for Internet traffic and live streamed video views.
Effrat said it's not just technology that emerges as a trend in this year's zeitgeist but, in particular, the social Web and mobile technology.
"For many years now, it seemed like mobile was on the forefront. This is the first year that we've seen that reflected in the searches," he said.
Here's the full list of Google's fastest-rising searches for the U.S. in 2010:
2. Chatroulette (social website that pairs strangers for videocam chats)
3. iPhone 4
4. World Cup
5. Justin Bieber
6. Myxer (free ringtones, MP3s, wallpaper)
8. Grooveshark (Internet radio site)
9. Glee (Fox TV show)
10. Mocospace (popular mobile social network)
Each year, Google analyzes billions of search queries, across Google.com, Google Maps, Google Images and other Google products, to compile its annual zeitgeist -- or "spirit of the times" -- report.
To really highlight what makes each year unique, Google said its annual list of the overall fastest-rising terms ranks searches by how much they gained in popularity year over year, not by how frequently the terms were queried on Google.
The general list gives a quick overview of what caught the collective mind's attention over the course of the year, but Google goes a step beyond to rank the most popular searches in a range of categories, including news, celebrities, sports, recipes and more.
The fastest-rising person in the U.S. in 2010 was Justin Bieber, the fastest-rising sports search was "World Cup Schedule" and the fastest rising image search was Jersey Shore.
The BP oil spill topped the list of news searches in 2010 (swine flu was the No. 1 news search last year), and was followed by Haiti and Earthquake.
On a related note, Effrat said that, presumably because of these disasters, searches for "donate" were at the highest since the tsunami.