When you write for the web you begin to appreciate the extent to which search engines, and the experience of "search" as a concept and an activity, is changing more than how we find information. Search is changing how we think about and how we use language to construct our experience.
Every year, for example, I take a look at the sex questions that were most often searched for and read by About.com users. It's tempting (and editorially desirable) to frame this list as a kind of window into the sex lives of the hundreds of millions of people who come to About.com every year looking for information. Everyone wants the "real" story, what people "really" want to do in bed. But how much do the words people time into a search field reflect either how they feel, think, or have sex? At best I'd say the relationship is suspect.
After all, we search so often that we end up learning how to search, and we learn from the search engine results. You type in "edging" hoping for some gardening tips and instead come up with my how to edge article. Next time, you try something else. Or you type in "lubricant" because you want to find one that won't give you another yeast infection, and you end up on an automotive site. What we search for may begin with an interest, need, or desire from within, but how we search, and the words we use, become as conditioned as any other response.
And of course anyone offering to tell you what people are really into is only answering that question based on what they talk or write about. People aren't searching my site asking questions about sex with chickens, because I don't have any content on sex with chickens. So if you were to ask me I'd say there aren't many people interested in having sex with chickens (actually if you asked me I'd direct you to some other sexologists who could answer that...but you get the idea).
It's complicated but I still love digging through my statistics and theorizing about what they mean (it's like doing a crossword puzzle without any clues, or any boxes, or even a grid). So in the spirit of educated guesses and sharing data over the holiday season, below you'll find the ten most popular sex questions of 2009.
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