A Look at the Yahoo Buzz Index

The January 2005 issue of the e-journal First Monday was published yesterday and includes the article: What’s the Buzz about? An empirical examination of Search on Yahoo! It offers a detailed look at the Yahoo Buzz Index over a 45 week period. The authors conclude, “the data available on the Index is symptomatic of a celebrity–crazed, entertainment–centered culture.”

Here are the key findings:

+ It is most common for a search term to show up on the index for one week, followed by two weeks, three weeks, etc. Only two terms persist for all 45 weeks studied — Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Search term longevity follows a power?law distribution or a winner?take?all structure

+ Most search terms focus on entertainment. Search terms related to serious topics are found less often. The Buzz Index does not necessarily follow the “news cycle”

+ We provide two ways to determine “star power” of various search terms — one that emphasizes staying power on the Index and another that emphasizes rank. In general, the methods lead to dramatically different results. Britney Spears performs well in both methods. We conclude that the data available on the Index is symptomatic of a celebrity?crazed, entertainment?centered culture.

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