Search Engines Take the Pulse of Pop Culture

Call it a Web feat -- Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Potter were among the most buzzed-about names on the Internet last year.

But there was bad news for boy bands 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and terror miscreant Osama bin Laden, who all had the buzz of a mashed mosquito, according to Web-search statistics released yesterday.

Although they aren't exactly scientific, the year-end listings of the most popular Web searches -- released by search engines Google, Lycos and Yahoo! -- offers a pretty good idea of what was hot and what was not in 2002.

Yahoo!'s annual Buzz Index ranked PlayStation 2, pop tart Spears and TV cartoon Dragon Ball Z, in that order, as the top three items of interest.

Dragon Ball was also the leader among TV shows, followed by American Idol and Japanese cartoon Yu-Gi-Oh! Spears was the hottest in music, followed by rappers Eminem and Nelly.

Spears and Eminem also lead AOL's "most searched" list.

In sports, the NFL raced past NASCAR and soccer's World Cup in capturing the interest of Web surfers.

Leading the way in filmdom was Harry Potter, followed by Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings.

Among actors, J-Lo lead the way, followed by perennial pin-up Pamela Anderson and action hunk Vin Diesel.

Google, the most popular search engine in the world, also revealed its stats for the year.

J-Lo led the ladies, while rapper-turned-thespian Eminem was the most-looked-up man.

The search engine also pegged the Top 20 searches gaining favor and the 20 that fell furthest. It was prophetic that Nostradamus plunged in popularity. Web surfers also tuned out the music-swapping service Napster.

But Spider-Man and songstress Shakira were on a sharp upswing, according to Google.

Rocketing onto the Lycos Top 100 queries were Yu-Gi-Oh!, Nelly, anorexia, the Atkins Diet and cloning.

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