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Peruvian Punks and Sex in Milton Keynes

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Chris Vallance | 17:43 UK time, Saturday, 23 August 2008

britain_from_above.jpgHave you been watching Britain From Above? On iPM we're going to have a go at finding out about Britain From the Web. While aerial photography reveals our back-gardens, swimming pools and giant matchstick models of the Mary Rose, it doesn't reveal what goes on behind the net curtains of the average British home. The internet is piped into our homes past closed doors, and what we search for online, reveals things about ourselves we'd blush to tell the man from the census, or a market researcher with a clip-board.

And it's not just the web which reveals information about ourselves. Even without dropping memory sticks, or losing laptops we leave behind ever growing trails of valuable data, that government and industry have a great interest in mining.

On iPM we'll be taking a look at "data mining" and we'd like you to join in. Part of our interest in this stems from the launch of a new tool called Google Insight, that lets you look at trends in what people are searching for. You can even look at what people are searching for in different parts of the UK (hence the blog post title - I leave you to guess the UK town that since 2004 had the highest percentage of searches featuring a certain *cough* term)

Political types may be interested to know that a higher proportion of internet users search Google for "Gordon Brown" in Gateshead than anywhere else.

Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, it's a firm of estate agents - and yes the Google data suggests fewer people are looking for estate agents, but then your house-price may well have told you that already.

Looking beyond the confines of the UK the service reveals that nobody likes Punk like Peruvians. The UK's favourite Peruvian, Paddington Bear told us they liked marmalade, but that honour goes to Singapore and Chile.

As we live more of our lives online, so more and more information about us can be gleened from the web. One blogger wrote:

Google Has Enough Insight to Read My Mind

And increasingly the data is available for all of us to see and explore. Here, for example, is a guide to getting data out of facebook (and discovering the 180 people interested in sex, drugs and cocoa puffs) And here, some evidence as to the commuting habits of Twitter users

As our data trails lengthen and the value of e-commerce rises, the commercial value of mining data grows. Compared to the commercial systems available to firms like Hitwise, the data exposed by Googe Insight is very limited.

Not that collecting data on our web-habits is uncontroversial. Phorm and Facebook's Beacon programme, have all attracted criticism. And the information unearthed by data mining techniques can often be embarrassing for organisations and individuals.

I've been looking at what our online behaviour says about us. I've been warned that in the future data mining applications, could replace the CV when employers sift potential candidates. And I've found out that the internet tells us a lot about the future of the economy, and the "bedroom" anxieties of the average UK web user.

We'd like you to join in the programme. Have a play with Insight (or the other tools online) and tell us what facts about the UK (or the area where you live) you've discovered. Have a go...we may mention the results on the programme.

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