Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WSJ.com - What Are Web Surfers Seeking? Well, It's Just What You'd Think

 The WSJ analyzes AOL's info-leak.  I imagine it must be pretty scary to work at AOL, Google, MSN, and Yahoo! at times...

One thing about us Internet users: We like our music, we like our pictures, we like our sex -- and we like them all free.

Last week, AOL released a trove of what it thought were anonymous Web-search data from 650,000 of its customers. While intending to help researchers, AOL instead set off a privacy controversy because some of the users could, in fact, be tracked down. But taking up AOL on its original intentions, I got hold of the data set -- 2.27 gigabytes' worth, loaded it into my shiny new SQL Server database software, and started my own research project into how people really use the Web.

One learns, for instance, that excepting prepositions and conjunctions, the most commonly used word in the 17.15 million separate searches was "free." If something isn't free, it better at least be "new," as that was the next-most common word.

Excluding proper nouns, the next most popular words were "lyrics," "county," "school," "city," "home," "state," "pictures," "music," "sale," "beach," "high," "map," "center" and "sex."

Source: WSJ.com - What Are Web Surfers Seeking?  Well, It's Just What You'd Think

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