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Genealogy has become more popular than sex, according to Altavista's top ten search terms list for this week. The UK Public Records Office, which was forced to shut down its 1901 census site earlier this week after being deluged by vast waves of ancestor-seekers, will not be at all surprised by this news, and Altavista's PR people have eagerly seized on the event to stage a desperate bid for publicity.

On this occasion, The Register is happy to oblige. Census comes in at number one, followed by sex, cheap flights, national lottery, Lord of the Rings, Friends Reunited, jobs, holidays, maps, and currency convertor. In a desperate bid for publicity too far the PRs conclude that people aren't very interested in the Euro, because it doesn't appear in the top ten (what's currency convertor doing there then?), and offer us an interview opportunity with an Altavista spokesperson.

Instead of which, we wander off in search of some context. The top ten of The Lycos 50 is headed up by Dragonball, then Morpheus, Lord of the Rings, New Year (a bit slow round at Lycos, obviously), Britney Spears, Final Fantasy, NFL, Harry Potter, Pamela Anderson, and Playstation 2. You can see clear divergences between the interests of the typical UK and US goofer-offer, but we do not believe that Americans feel they've nothing to learn about sex.

Google meanwhile has a year-end roundup of top gaining and top declining terms in a bewlideringly large number of categories. Worryingly, the top gainer for the year is "Nostradamus," suggesting a mood of impending apocalypse is overtaking us. We then have CNN, World Trade Center, Harry Potter, anthrax, Windows XP (less popular than anthrax, there's a testimonial for you), Osama Bin Laden, Audiogalaxy, Taliban and Loft Story. Nostradamus, incidentally, is Google's man of the year, coming in ahead of Osama Bin Laden.

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