Thursday, September 02, 2004

Quizeitgeist - I

Not sure how many have seen Google's Zeitgeist page, something that is rarely less than revelatory.

From the bottom of the very page:

zeit·geist | Pronunciation: 'tsIt-"gIst, 'zIt | Function: noun | Etymology: German, from Zeit (time) + Geist (spirit) | Date: 1884 |
Meaning: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era

Quizzes over a period of time establish their own zeitgeist. Most good annual quizzes achieve an invisible spirit and discernible patterns of their own which characterize them and their times. Quite often they are reflective of the people behind them, but many times they are indicative of trends and inclinations of their times. You'll also find a lot of grizzled quizzers shaking their heads at the "new age" of quizzing; this sport of ours is prone to the theory of the generation gap.

This post attempts to capture this slightly undefinable feeling and kicks off a small attempt to continually monitor the quizzing ethos of these times - flawed the results maybe, but they may turn up interesting insights as well. As ever, contributions welcome and maybe I need to have a better place for people to note them down.

A few observations from the past:

"Dis-top-pick-a": the topics of choice

* Tintin and Asterix: quintessential quizzing topics, with Asterix especially being very anecdote-trivia-friendly with the derivative names and the retro-history.

* Sherlock Holmes: classical quizzing is never without reference to the ultimate private detective. Even today, Sigerson or Tibet or the Reichenbach or the Napoleon of Crime are invoked in almost every quiz.

* Pink Floyd: something perhaps to do with quizzing youth discovering quizzing and rock music in college (sometimes just fashionably) simultaneously. Again, PF are a trivia friendly music group, with associations with DNA & Hawking serving them well.

* Douglas Adams: watch out for questions #42 or #21, try guessing Douglas Adams if you have no better guess. DNA is much beloved in the quizzing world, who pay homage whenever they can.

* Google: displaced Apple as the most trivia-friendly corporation on earth. They lay out the carpet for quiz-setters and we respond as if in honeyed seduction. Plus the fact that "Coolge" is *the* weapon of choice for the quiz-setter.

* Olympics & World Cup cricket: So much gets added every 4 years that we don't mind really.

* Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Andaaz Apna Apna, Sholay and more: Atleast you'll hear a lot about them at the BC.

* Richard P.Feynman, Oppenheimer and the rest: admittedly no more at their peak, but quite the rage in BC circles about 3-4 years ago.

* Harry Potter and LOTR: These strong contenders in the last few years have meant that ambitious quizzers need to stock up on them. Quizzers prone to snubbing their noses at these upstart topics, well, just don't make finals anymore :-)

* Formula One: All I know about F-1, I learnt from listening to questions. Sad (me of course).

Topics for later: QZG at Annual quizzes.

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