Roundup of Roundups: What to Read at the End of 2011

It’s that time again: year-end roundup time. Across the blogosphere, 2011 retrospectives are being posted, and the internet is rife with articles, photos, and graphics that help us look back at 2011 and all its protestor/tsunami/DSK/debt-downgraded/Bin Laden/Rebecca Black/Eurozone/Apple-related stories. There’s a lot of it to wade through, and most of it isn’t that interesting.

Here’s a compilation of some of the looks back at 2011 that are actually worth looking at.

1. The Guardian’s 2011: the year in data, journalism (and charts)
The Guardian’s DataBlog has compiled its top data stories for 2011. Included are an infographic on the stunningly high unemployment rates of European youth (48% in Spain!), an interactive display of foreign holders of U.S. debt (we owe China the most moolah, in case you’re wondering), and an animation showing the routes London’s rioters took to travel to do their rioting in August.

2. The New York Times’ interactive feature, The Lives They Loved
Lots of newspapers recap the list of famous and infamous people who died in the past year, but the New York Times took a more interactive approach focusing on personal stories. Readers submitted photos of a person close to them who had died in 2011, and the Times compiled a beautiful and moving visual story about love, loss, and life. The text sent with the contributors’ photos is unedited, so the voice and intent of the mourner is preserved, typos and all. Here’s just one of the hundreds you can find at NYTimes.com:
“My grandmothers hand with a manicure from my youngest cousin. Reminds me of how caring, concerned and funny she was.” (photo courtesy of Amber Goben via the New York Times)

3. Google Zeitgeist 2011: How the World Searched
Google sifted through all the search queries it received in 2011 and came up with a fascinating little array of top ten lists. You can look at the most popular Google searches for the year, sorting by what’s popular across the world. Globally, the “Fastest Rising” search term of the year was “Rebecca Black” (yes, you read that right). The 13-year-old’s amateur music video went viral on YouTube in March, eventually getting more than 167,000,000 hits. Over the course of 2011, “Rebecca Black” and related search queries rose more than 10,000%. View most popular searches by country, too. For example, “يناير‎ 25 ثورة” (“January 25 Revolution”) was, of course, the fastest-rising search term in Egypt in 2011.


4. Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2011
Time.com is lousy with “50 Best” lists for 2011, and the list of best websites is an interesting survey of what’s hot on the Web. Almost every one of the sites has some sort of social networking or storytelling tie-in, like Kickstarter and MapMyRun. The list includes obvious major players like Evernote and Google+ and lesser-known relative newbies like Klout (a social media scoring system) and The Escapist (<–gamers, click there).

5. Imgur.com’s Best Images of 2011
Imgur.com, the free image hosting service, highlights images from around the Web in its Best Images of 2011 post. The image of this UC Davis  pepper spray incident spurred a Photoshopping internet meme, “Pepperspray Cop,” and generated almost a million views. It made the list at the #3 position. For more serious, less internet-centric views of 2011 in photos, check out “The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011” at Buzzfeed and “The Year In Pictures” series at The Big Picture blog at Boston.com.

What are your favorite year-end features? Share them in the comments.

Mia Breitkopf

Mia Breitkopf is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science at Syracuse University. In 2011, she moved to Syracuse to study after seven years in Philadelphia, PA, where she taught public school and worked at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Mia holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and will graduate with her MLIS in May 2013.

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