But timeless observations of human behaviour online remain. Like the New Year resolutions people make to improve their health, diets, and lifestyle. "For a brief period of time," Tancer says, "four days at the beginning of the New Year to be exact, there is a surge in weight loss and fitness interest."
According to him, "The dieting industry in the US is a $40-billion-a-year-business, a combination of diet programs, weight loss clinics, books and other self-help materials. A good portion of that business is earned during the first few days of the New Year, as we all come to terms with our resolve to change..."
Smoking cessation related search queries are another New Year special in the US. So are queries for 'wedding dresses' and 'pregnancy', not to forget searches for 'prom dresses'.
And where does Tancer get all this data? This bit of information is provided in the book's introduction itself. It appears that Hitwise captures data in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. The US sample alone contains the usage behaviour of more than 10 million internet users, collected from both ISPs (internet service providers) as well as opt-in panels (probably an euphemism for users who voluntarily contribute their own usage data to Hitwise in return for goodies). He claims that all the data are anonymized and aggregated to prevent identification of individual users.
Seasonal patterns in searches are not restricted to select themes like health and fitness alone. Tancer has some interesting trivia on all manner of searches. More about them at a later time.