FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, December 20, 2004

AOL, Lycos List Top Web Searches of 2004

As the year winds down, we inevitably start to look back on "the year that was." That's not very futuristic, but looking back can sometimes give us an idea of where we're headed.

Take Web search terms, for instance. They reflect our interests and concerns, whether they be profound or trivial. AOL has released its top search terms for 2004... and the results tell us that we were highly concerned about celebrities, the election, hurricanes, celebrities, sports, celebrities, dieting, celebrities, American Idol, poker, celebrities, and certain "wardrobe malfunctions." Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, the Olsen twins, Paris Hilton and Ashlee Simpson topped the celebrity searches -- possibly more because of the controversy they generated than their talents.

Over at Lycos, Janet Jackson was the most searched-for topic of 2004. Hmmm, wonder why... Celebrities commanded six of the top 10 Lycos searches, and entertainment themes dominated the year's top 100 searches. Nick Berg, whose videotaped beheading by Iraqi insurgents was relased on the Internet, was number 5. The Iraq War was number 16. George W. Bush and John Kerry, at numbers 81 and 96 respectively, almost didn't make the cut.

Overall, there were few surprises in the top searches, as they reflected largely mainstream (if slightly perverse) interests. Perhaps the most significant thing this tells us is how ordinary the Web has become, and how we rely on it as a tool for investigating those things that we're most concerned about. It also suggests that, based on the search topics, the majority of those searching via AOL and Lycos are young people. It would be interesting to see a breakout of search terms by user age, if such a statictic could be calculated, as well as geographic location and income bracket. Or, maybe we're really all that into Britney and Janet...

Source: ClickZ