AOL’s Leaked Searches Get Turned Into Play: USER 927

Remember when AOL released private search information back in August of 2006? Well, that story is now back in the news, after a two-year hiatus. Ars Technica reports that a play has been created around one of those searches, specifically searcher number 927. The play is named “USER 927: U are what U Seek” and is coming to a theater in Philadelphia on June 6th.

Here is the play’s abstract:

Leah Letts has moved to Indiana with her 14-year-old daughter Deena to escape the rat race of New York City. Osterville is a safe haven, a place where people put down roots, where everyone knows everyone. Leah is determined to start over so Deena can grow up in a less threatening environment. She’s found the perfect place. And just for the summer, Leah lays down the law: no computer, no email, no Internet. Just 2 months to enjoy life lived offline.

But Deena has other plans.

USER 927 is a thriller about cyberstalking, search engines, and the way information is obtained, manipulated, and released in our wired world. This world premiere play is based on numerous trends pertaining to digital technology and the Internet, as well as the data leak of over 3 million AOL search queries by 650,000 of its users, first broken on sites like The Consumerist.

USER 927 takes a provocative look at the slick and seductive nature of computer and Internet technology—the come-ons and dangers that seem to spring from every click of the mouse. We have seemingly limitless information at our fingertips, and yet what do we really know? USER 927 integrates digital technology, video and flash animation to examine our simultaneous attraction to, and dread of, modern technology while offering audiences the chance to see an important public debate take a thrilling new direction.

This is not the first time a user was spotlighted from AOL’s data. A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749 from the NY Times back on August 9, 2006 featured a 62-year-old widow’s journey through here searches at AOL. This is, however, the first time AOL’s data is being used as a play or movie.

Related Topics: AOL: General | Channel: Consumer | Legal: Privacy | Search & Society: General

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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