Celebrity, Disaster and No iPhone 5: 2011 As Seen Through Internet Searches

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Mike Blake / Reuters

If the Internet’s top news searches are anything to go by, 2011 was all about glamor, gloss and more than a little frivolity, with Kate Middleton, Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian and American Idol dominating people’s attention over the last 12 months.

Experian Hitwise has announced the top 50 search items in terms of traffic to news and media sites for the last year, and more than ever, they’re weighted towards popular culture and celebrity, with only one entry in the top 10 unlikely to make the cover of People magazine (that would be “Hurricane Irene,” in at number five, right between American Idol and Zsa Zsa Gabor). The top search of the year was “Casey Anthony,” who took not only the number one spot, but also the second (“Casey Anthony Trial”) and, apparently, the 34th and 47th slots (both apparently “Casey Anthony Trial Live,” which may be a typo).

[UPDATE: It was indeed a typo, and an updated chart was released that gave “Casey Anthony Trial Live” placement at #41 on the chart.]

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Outside of celebrity and high profile legal cases, natural disasters and the apocalypse made a strong showing this year, with Hurricane Irene appearing at number five, “Apophis Asteroid” at 22 and “May 21 Judgment Day” at both 33 and 46 (again, I suspect typo-correction in the actual list). Also making an impressive showing: the death of Osama Bin Laden, with “Osama Bin Laden” at 23, “Osama Bin Laden Dead” at 24 and “Bin Laden Wives” at 36.

Politics and tech had a rough year in comparison, with “iPhone 5” the sole tech entry (at 16), and “Social Security” appearing at 31 and 44 (interestingly, Libya shows up at 38 on the list, which may be a reference to Herman Cain’s mispronunciation of the word earlier this year as much as to the actual North African country).

[UPDATE: The revised chart shifts “May 21 Judgment Day” to #40, but adds “Hurricane Irene Path” at #49, as well as “Japan Earthquake at #31. Similarly, “Libya” shifts to #27, with “Libya News” appearing at #47.]

MORE: The Year’s Most Popular Web-Searches Explain 2010 to Us All

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.