Yesterday, Google released its Zeitgiest 2009 list, featuring diverse categories such as fastest rising and falling image searches and name searches, most searched member of the Senate, most searched TV show (Glee surprisingly), and most searched internet meme (won by "Kanye West", but probably wasn’t due to the awards show memes that followed his VMA appearance). The Zeitgeist painted an oddly prescient picture of cities across the country, too, as Google made top ten lists for each, with terms related especially to that city.
Portland’s picture bleakly matches the economic climate of the past year. According to the Zeitgeist, Portlanders rode the bus, looked for an unemployment claim, went to jail, tried to find work, and refined their education at local colleges. In between, they looked for Blazers analysis. This is by far the most depressing top ten in the country. Other cities have movie theaters, libraries, and beerhalls. We have unemployment. Seattle has unemployment on their list, but it’s at #8 instead of #2, and the rest of their list is basically education and sports. Only Denver, Minneapolis, and LA also have unemployment, and it’s never as high as #2 on their lists.
There are silver linings to the list, too, as the ranking of the Trimet trip planner at #1 really shows how the city embraces its public transportation (it also could be how confusing it is to read a bus schedule). Phoenix, Boston, New York, and Chicago have public transit on their lists, but Portland is alone in having transit at the top, with the vaunted subways of New York nipping at their heels with MTA at their #3.
Perhaps the thing we can be the most proud of out of Google’s endeavor is that we finally have an internationally famous landmark in our fair city. Voodoo Doughnuts took the #9 spot on the Google Maps fastest rising list, only beaten out by the likes of Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and the Eiffel Tower. Take that, Space Needle!