Treasure hunt

3 January 2008

In Google’s list of the most frequently searched words on its service last year, ‘stocks’ came fourth, while the names of three top banks also featured in the top 10. Intriguingly, ‘sex’ was well outside the top 10, as were ‘Paris Hilton’, ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Wii’.

Puzzled? Fair enough. But the internet hasn’t been taken over by investors and number crunchers with no concern for Brangelina, X Factor or the rest of the sinister celebrity vacuum – Google was referring only to its self-censored Chinese language service.

And as you might expect, China, with the dubious assistance of Google, blocks a lot of online content, from political comment that’s not aligned with its policies, to pornography, which is why ‘sex’ is an unsatisfying experience for your average Chinese Google user. Money and technology were in the forefront and judging by Google, the Chinese were blissfully unaware of Britney's problems getting in and out of various limos.

The most popular questions asked on Google China were ‘what is a blue chip?’ and ‘how to invest in the stockmarket.’ In contrast, the rest of the world wanted to know what love is and how to kiss, while a late surge emanating from Central London promoted ‘where are those damn HMRC disks?’ towards the top.

So, if is all in Mandarin and Cantonese within six months, don’t blame me.