Real-Life Search Study: “A Week In The Life”

| Total Words: 914

ACCORDING TO A PEW INTERNET & American Life Project survey, 45 percent of Internet users–about 60 million Americans–say that the Web helped them make big decisions or deal with major episodes in their lives in the previous two years. The survey also found that only 5 percent said the information they found was misleading.

The obvious implication here is that people are searching to find critical information. And remarkably, their satisfaction is very high. Recently I conducted a highly informal study, tracking a colleague’s search habits for one week, to confirm or refute what the survey is telling us. To protect his privacy and pride, I’ll refer to him as “Subject 20-Something.” It’s important to note that he does not work in the search industry, and would be considered a moderate search user who owns a connected PDA.

For this study, I tracked what, when and why he searched. At this point, you’re probably saying, what is the reasoning behind this otherwise meaningless information? Why do I care what some random person searched for last week? The answer is actually plain and simple. I wanted to find out if, for...

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