What are we all looking for?

This post will not be as philosophical as the title might suggest. Rather, I have been looking at the top searches as reported by two search engines, Google and Yahoo. The first thing to note is that they are quite different from each other. Here are the current top searches on Google:

1. weiner facts
2. sammy sosa
3. franz hanning
4. numerology
5. face reading
6. numerology calculator
7. east stroudsburg university
8. dennis earl bradford
9. numerology compatibility
10. lee dewyze halleluja video

Two things strike me here. In the case of five of the items, I have absolutely no idea what they are about. None. What on earth might ‘weiner facts’ be? A couple of the others are just strange: why should ‘face reading’ be so popular, and what’s the big deal with East Stroudsburg University? But what amazes me most is that numerology should make three appearances in this list; what does that tell us?

And now, here is the very different list from Yahoo:

1. Rima Fakih
2. Amazon Ebook Reader Central
3. Dancing With the Stars
4. Amy Adams
5. NBA
6. Hulu
7. Dow Jones Index
8. Claudia Schiffer
9. American Idol
10. LeBron James

Again four items in relation to which I am wholly ignorant, but in this list there is a more visible presence of celebrity culture.

What interests me also is that, in both lists, there appear to be absolutely no items relevant to either local or global news. There is also a hint here that on the internet people live in little worlds of their own – though clearly some of these get to be big enough to pick up some real communities. But these communities avoid the arts, politics and science, and they are much less technology focused than you might expect from people using the internet.

We do live in a strange world.

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7 Comments on “What are we all looking for?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Huh, the first one in google might be kids worried about size or shape of their tackle.
    And you’d think porn* would have been in there someplace.

  2. Jilly Says:

    In a spirit of enquiry (!), I’ve just done a google search for “weiner facts”, and it brings you directly to the website of a Democratic congressman called Anthony Weiner: I can’t make head or tail of what the ‘facts’ bit is supposed to be about, but it seems to be linked to some argument between him and the awful Glen Beck. All a bit obscure for us, but very closely linked to US current affairs. Sorry, not as interesting as we might have hoped!


  3. One of the interesting consequences of publishing a list of the most popular search terms is that searches for those terms then get to you. A lot of readers today accessing this blog because they searched for ‘weiner facts’!

    • wendymr Says:

      Weiner Facts is apparently Glenn Beck‘s new website, intended as a counter-attack to a congressman I’ve never heard of (but am tempted to like purely on the basis of this), Anthony Weiner, who has been criticising Beck publicly. No doubt Beck has been plugging the site aggressively on his talk radio show.


  4. An interesting question here is what time intervall is used (possibly also what geographical area is used, and whether a single node of Google or the entire cluster is used). If the listing is limited to a short time, possibly just the last few minutes, it would not be surprising that Google and Yahoo have different results—or that the results are unexpected. Notably, a news article that is fed into RSS streams could lead to a considerable temporary spike in searches for related subjects, as the readers all wonder who/what on earth someone/-thing is.

    One could also speculate that there is some kind of blacklist active for words like “porn”, for a variety of reasons.

  5. JD Evans Says:

    Not knowing about and/or disliking Glenn Beck is to be expected when visiting these pinhead University sites. Like you have a clue about the Real World. Stick to your books and let the grown-ups out here deal with reality.
    I doubt the person who referred to Mr. Beck as “awful” had heard or read his arguments for a saner and more Constitutional government. Rather, she has only read/heard one side of the story — the lame-stream media’s — so of course he must be a right-wing nut, because that is how he is painted by it. It’s OK, though; I was once an idealistic Ivy Leaguer. Then I graduated. And started learning what was omitted from most colleges’ curricula. The sooner one starts, the better.


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