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Search terms of endearment

Terms typed into search engines have come to signify the hottest people, places and things in pop culture. The most popular terms for 2000 include "Summer Olympics," "Napster" and--of course--"Britney Spears."

Oops, she did it again.

After leading the weekly and monthly charts of various Internet search engine lists all year, teen singing sensation Britney Spears ended 2000 as the most popular search term entered into portals Yahoo and Lycos. Spears also took seventh place on the AltaVista search engine.

Search terms have come to signify the hottest people, places and things in pop culture. Yahoo's top 10 list, tracked by its Buzz Index, listed Britney Spears in first place, followed by children's game "Pokemon," the World Wrestling Federation, rap singer Eminem and the pop music band N'Sync.

Other hot topics: actress Pamela Anderson, Japanese anime character Dragon Ball Z, actress Jennifer Lopez and pop group Backstreet Boys. Web surfers were also eager to learn more about tattoos, the Summer Olympics and the controversial music-swapping technology of Napster.

Most popular search terms 2000 (for selected search engines):

AltaVista: sex, MP3, Yahoo, Hotmail, chat, Pokemon, Britney Spears, Napster, games, Warez  
Lycos: Britney Spears, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, WWF, N'Sync, Pamela Anderson, tattoos, Napster, Jennifer Lopez, Summer Olympics 
Yahoo: Britney Spears, Pokemon, Napster, WWF, Eminem, N'Sync, Pamela Anderson, Dragon Ball Z, Jennifer Lopez, Backstreet Boys  

Lycos' end of the year results were similar, with Britney Spears at No. 1, followed by Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, WWF and N'Sync.

In addition to providing a mirror to pop culture, sought-after words reflect the breaking news that Web users most want to read. The day after the national vote, for example, "presidential election" rose in the charts as the most widely searched term, briefly surpassing Spears.

Surfers are also keen on Internet-specific technology. In addition to Napster and MP3--a standard technology and format for compressing music files from Web sites--one of the most popular search terms on AltaVista was "Warez." Warez (pronounced "wares") is computer software stripped of copy-protection rights and downloadable for free online.

But most surfers, it seems, are less concerned with political current events and more intrigued by timeless topics: AltaVista, which unlike Lycos does not censor sexual terms and company names out of its top 10 list, ended the year with "sex" as its top searched-for term.