USA Today has found a new lens on the gestalt: eBay.

There are many ways to analyze 2003. You can sift through major news events. You can chart best-selling books and top-rated TV shows. You can dissect the stock market. But if you want the gestalt of America — the unified essence of this nation at this time — there might be no better place to turn than the massive databases that run eBay….

At the beginning of 2003, BMWs, Gucci and Prada reigned supreme on eBay (EBAY). All were among the 10 most-searched terms. Last year, the No. 1 search was for Gucci.

Here at the end of 2003, the most-searched items have shifted to Fords, anything pink (forget which designer), and gold (the kind you store in a wall safe as a hedge against geopolitical or economic disaster).

[via Alex Halavais]