Let's get right to it: On Friday I asked you to name a mystery word that was popular in Google searches but nigh nonexistent in the pages of the New York Times. How did you do?
Most of you guessed, correctly, that it was something vaguely pop-culture-y or otherwise debauched. Commenters JudgeRoyBean and wolfemi1 took the Hannah Montana route:
Mike Donohue — yes, he let me use his real name — dropped me an e-mail that was more a confession than anything else:
I suppose my guess is actually 3 words, but that chart looks suspiciously like the Google Trend for "Honey Boo Boo", and I can't imagine that particular topic ends up in the pages of the NYTimes especially frequently.
(And yes, I am ashamed to say that I occasionally watch that show...)
Believe it or not, Mike, the Times wrote about Honey Boo Boo 41 times in 2012, 26 times in 2013, and 5 times so far this year. But, sadly, that was not the search term I was looking for. On Twitter, some of you went aspirational. Joshua Hatch:
Katie Park dreamed of jeggings:
But despite my well-documented affinity for jorts, the answer was not denim-related. For a hint, check out this amazing map that tells you how many times you live: Yes, as many of you correctly surmised, the right answer was "YOLO." The acronym for "You only live once" was popularized by the rapper Drake in his 2011 single "The Motto." The internet archaeologists at KnowYourMeme chronicle the rise of the term:
On October 23rd, 2011, Drake posted a tweet using the word accompanied by a photo of himself standing on a balcony.
The now defunct Twitter analytics site Trendistic reported that tweets with the keyword “yolo” rose significantly on October 24th, one day after Drake tweeted the photo from his balcony. In addition, Google Insights graph also indicates that search queries for the keyword “YOLO” began to rise drastically between October and November 2011.
Here's the live Google Trends chart comparing the interest in "yolo" and "Barack Obama" over time. What's most impressive to me is yolo's staying power after its early 2012 spike.
Lots of you got this one right, which is great because it meant people were tweeting "YOLO" at me all weekend. First one out the gate — like, literally within 5 minutes of me posting the thing — was Olenka Mitukiewicz of Washington, D.C.
Olenka, having YOLO on the mind paid off this week — you've earned yourself the Early Bird Prize for Prompt and Expeditious Accuracy. May you live *more* than once! But! One of you went above and beyond the call of data to correctly guess not only the word, but the artist and song from whence it came. That was Jen Potvin.
Jen, I hereby proclaim you an official Data Wizard/Ninja/Unicorn/Whatevs, YOLO edition, and certify that on Friday, August 1, 2014, you were Right on the Internet. To everyone else, thanks for playing. And remember, as Drake sings in Nicki Minaj's Moment 4 Life (feat. Drake), "everybody dies - but not everybody lives."