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Comical-Ali wins web search 'April fool' award

What did you search for today?
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

What did you search for today?

In these web-dependent times there are few social barometers as effective as search engines for providing a snapshot of what the nation's thinking about at any given time. Figures from Altavista reveal that the last month, understandably, saw many people in the UK pre-occupied with Gordon Brown's budget and the ending of the war in Iraq. Typically common search terms such as 'Britney Spears' or 'Manchester United' are always popular and show little seasonal variation but a more telling statistic, in terms of measuring trends and changes in people's thinking, is found when measuring the percentage increase in searches for a particular word, name or phrase. For example, over the last month searches under the word 'budget' saw the most dramatic increase. While it may not be popular for much of the year, during March and April it tends to be a means to find in-demand information. Most seasonal of all was no doubt the strong showing for 'Easter' - fourth in the top 10 list of search terms which experienced the greatest month-on-month surge. Perhaps most remarkable was the increase in searches for Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf - the Iraqi Information Minister, dubbed Comical-Ali because of his tall tales and claims of Iraqi victories during the propaganda war which ran in parallel to the conflict in the Middle East. Al-Sahaf accounted for the second largest surge in searches. Similarly, searches for news sites soared as the war in the Middle East reached its dramatic conclusion, with searches for 'BBC news' third and 'Sky news' fifth. The full Top 10 looks like this: 1. Budget 2. Iraqi Information Minister 3. BBC news 4. Easter 5. Sky news 6. Concorde 7. Rachel Stevens 8. Charlotte Church 9. Reading festival 10. Kelly Brooke
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