References to war and the American political landscape are peppered throughout the usual searches for celebrities, sports and entertainment, reflecting the spectrum of issues on the minds of Internet searchers.
Pop culture terms claim the top spots on both the Lycos 50 for the week ending July 3, 2004 and the Yahoo Buzz Index for the week ending July 4, 2004 but slain hostage "Paul Johnson" debuted at #5 on the Yahoo list.
Executed American "Nick Berg" has spent eight weeks on the Lycos 50, dropping this week from #5 to #13. "Kim Sun Il," the murdered South Korean translator, went from the second most searched term to #19 on the Lycos list.
Other search terms that indicate an interest in serious affairs are:
Interestingly, "Michael Moore," whose movie sent Web traffic soaring the week of the release, only appeared at the bottom (#44) of the Lycos list, and "Fahrenheit 9/11" didn't even rank on either index.
Dean Tsouvalas, manager of content for Terra Lycos and writer of the Lycos 50, explains: "If Web search activity is any indication, people are much more interested in Michael Moore the political activist, as opposed to the films by Michael Moore."
"The last time we saw a spike for searches for Michael Moore, landing him in the Lycos 50, was following last year's Academy Awards when Moore gave his highly controversial Bush-bashing acceptance speech when he won for 'Bowling for Columbine.' Again, we never saw a rise in searches for the film; but searches for Moore were huge," noted Tsouvalas.
Similarities abound on the lists, but the absences are more notable. "Euro 2004" – the international soccer competition where Greece pulled a stunning win over Portugal – was the #1 search term on the Yahoo Buzz Index, but the Lycos 50 is devoid of any related terms.
Many of the top 10 items on the Lycos list are absent on the Yahoo Index: "Clay Aiken" at #2; "KaZaA" at #4; "Pamela Anderson" at #5; "Dragonball" at #7; "Poker" at #8; "WWE" at #9; and "Spiderman 2" at #10.
New entries and re-entries to both lists include: Wimbledon winner "Maria Sharapova"; "Fireworks"; "Independence Day"; "MegaMillions"; "Howard Stern"; and "Drudge Report."
Google's list of top gaining queries for the week ending July 5, 2004 was also a mix of entertainment and current events issues. "Spiderman 2" rose from #9 the week prior to the top spot. "Debra Beasley Lafave," the Florida teacher charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student, ranked fourth, and the recently deceased "Marlon Brando" generated enough interest among searchers to claim the fifth position.
The top queries on Google's list seem to run contrary to the most popular terms found on the Lycos 50. "We have noticed this phenomenon a lot lately – when topics are huge in the 'offline' media but just make small ripples with 'online' media," said Tsouvalas.
Tsouvalas compared some of the items that generated considerable buzz in the mainstream media to Web search activity on the Lycos 50.
"Spiderman 2 – not as much interest online unlike the first film which was the first movie to ever hit #1 on the Lycos 50. John Edwards as VP – even though this just happened yesterday, his searches are not up dramatically. Marlon Brando's death – not even a blip online," commented Tsouvalas.
Check out how the search terms have changed over time:
Searchers Get Serious
Diets, Sports, Celebrities Top Search Lists
Do Not Call Harry Potter?
Payment and Entertainment
War and Basketball
Touchdowns, Taxes, and Tragedy
Searches Mostly Entertainment-Related
Virus Becomes Most Popular
Debut of a Salesman
Dragonball Rolls Into First Place
World Cup Kicks Star Wars Out of Space
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