Some filmmakers have produced an amazing series of episodes based on one person’s searches discovered in the AOL search data release debacle. Here’s the trailer:
And the description from the website where you can view them all:
August 4, 2006, the personal search queries of 650,000 AOL (America Online) users accidentally ended up on the Internet, for all to see. These search queries were entered in AOL’s search engine over a three-month period. After three days AOL realized their blunder and removed the data from their site, but the sensitive private data had already leaked to several other sites.
I love Alaska tells the story of one of those AOL users. We get to know a religious middle-aged woman from Houston, Texas, who spends her days at home behind her TV and computer. Her unique style of phrasing combined with her putting her ideas, convictions and obsessions into AOL’s search engine, turn her personal story into a disconcerting novel of sorts.
Over a period of three months, a portrait of a woman emerges who is diligently searching for likeminded souls. The list of her search queries read aloud by a voice-over reads like a revealing character study of a somewhat obese middle-aged lady in her menopause, who is looking for a way to rejuvenate her sex life. In the end, when she cheats on her husband with a man she met online, her life seems to crumble around her. She regrets her deceit, admits to her Internet addiction and dreams of a new life in Alaska.
Note, however, that the data release wasn’t “accidental.” AOL released the data to aid research in how people use search engines. Their mistake was insufficient anonymization of the data.