I'm sure most of you have heard about the AOL search engine log blunder, when researchers for AOL released hundreds of thousands of queries entered into its search engine. I recently stumbled upon AOL Stalker, which is a:
searchable database containing 36389569 searches made by AOL users from 01 March, 2006 - 31 May, 2006.Why is this interesting? Because search engines log the private thoughts of millions of users. If you go and investigate AOL Stalker, you get a fascinating insight into what people were searching for and what people use the internet for. And not unsurprisingly, since most web surfing is done in the privacy of the home, the variety of searches is telling of the darker sides of human nature. The shear scale of these search logs highlight the fact that the internet is not a subversive place which encourages bad behaviour, but that humans given the chance, will indulge their desires, positive or negative.