This research paper, authored by the same people listed as authors in the AOL data’s README, reveals what AOL had hoped for people to do with the data.
They wanted their users examined in aggregate. Look at all the dot graphs and charts. Watch the pretty gradient map of America. Revel in the statistical analysis. Wallow in the private made public.
Previously, the DOJ asked all the major search engines for a swath of their data. Everyone complied (except for Google). Now AOL released the info to the public, with the intent of attracting profit. Not to mention the handy benefit of, “getting others to figure out their metrics for them for free,” says Vinny.
AOL: We don’t give a fuck.