Wednesday, August 9, 2006

TechCrunch and the AOL Search Data

Paul Kedrosky pointed us to some sites that allow you to search through the AOL search data that was recently posted. One of his comments also suggested So, I thought, "What does the AOL user base think about TechCrunch?"

I am a big fan of the work that Mike Arrington and the TechCrunch team are doing. It is a must-read blog for my business (I do early-stage startup executive coaching and investing). TechCrunch clearly has the buzz in the high-tech and startup world of Silicon Valley. Does the rest of the nation care? Let's go to the data.

Searching through for "techcrunch", we get 2 search hits out of the 20 million partially anonymized search queries, which represented about 650,000 AOL users. The searches for techcrunch were done on May 1, 2006.

The 2 search hits came from a single user, number 5887757. Aha! Let's see what the sole AOL TechCrunch lover is also searching for in life. Is he/she a Mac user or a PC user? Does he/she write software or is a part of the Open Source movement? What if he/she is a Venture Capitalist? Hmm. (Perhaps I have too much time on my hands).

Of the 114 searches that user 5887757 has made, we see searches such as:

  • aesop

  • arudd

  • rudda

  • flamingo casino hotel las vegas

  • cheap las vegas trips

  • rochester mayo


  • magnetic bracelet

  • wcco

  • kare11

  • mn care

  • magnetic wrist bracelet

  • galaxy golf

  • gm card

  • americanexpress

  • xmnavtraffic

  • zillow

  • minnesota toy poodle breeders

  • costco

  • san antonio real estate


  • starbucks

  • usbank

  • weather san antonio

  • americanindianjewelry

  • paying my gm card bill

  • startribune

  • where are they jr. rider

  • organizing hard drive

  • clean hard drive

Cross-referencing that list with the articles posted on TechCrunch yields... Zillow! But, the Zillow search was done on April 16, 2006, well before the TechCrunch search of May 1, 2006. Likely not related.

Oh well, such is the life of a loyal TechCrunch reader out there in Middle America. Now we all know. Thanks AOL.

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  1. There's a website to analyze and duscuss particular AOL users:

    "My neighbour is killing cats":
    "ways to kill yourself":
    "wife killer":

    A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749:

  2. Max,

    I don't agree with building an ad-sponsored website around exploiting information that should have been kept private. I allowed your comment because it shows what can happen when companies abuse our trust in their contract with us to keep our information private. Once this stuff is let out - it's out forever. The AOL debacle was an important lesson for us all. I only hope that Google and the others will take extreme notice.


  3. I think that exploring AOL data is OK in case one tries to gather statistical data, instead of personal data. This set of user queries is an unique chance to get deep understanding of what people try to find and how they do it.

    My blog will provide generalized reports of many types, like the list of unique word, misspelled words and the like.

    Do you think its unethical?


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