Barbara Larson

Barbara Larson

IT’S HARD TO think of a single technology that will shape our world more in the next 50 years than artificial intelligence. As machine learning enables our computers to teach themselves, a wealth of breakthroughs emerge, ranging from medical diagnostics to cars that drive themselves. A whole lot of worry emerges as well. Who controls this technology? Will it take over our jobs? Is it dangerous? President Obama was eager to address these concerns. The person he wanted to talk to most about them? Entrepreneur and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito. So I sat down with them in the White House to sort through the hope, the hype, and the fear around AI. That and maybe just one quick question about Star Trek. —SCOTT DADICH



SCOTT DADICH: Thank you both for being here. How’s your day been so far, Mr. President?

BARACK OBAMA: Busy. Productive. You know, a couple of international crises here and there.

DADICH: I want to center our conversation on artificial intelligence, which has gone from science fiction to a reality that’s changing our lives. When was the moment you knew that the age of real AI was upon us?

OBAMA: My general observation is that it has been seeping into our lives in all sorts of ways, and we just don’t notice; and part of the reason is because the way we think about AI is colored by popular culture. There’s a distinction, which is probably familiar to a lot of your readers, between generalized AI and specialized AI. In science fiction, what you hear about is generalized AI, right? Computers start getting smarter than we are and eventually conclude that we’re not all that useful, and then either they’re drugging us to keep us fat and happy or we’re in the Matrix. My impression, based on talking to my top science advisers, is that we’re still a reasonably long way away from that. It’s worth thinking about because it stretches our imaginations and gets us thinking about the issues of choice and free will that actually do have some significant applications for specialized AI, which is about using algorithms and computers to figure out increasingly complex tasks. We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy. If properly harnessed, it can generate enormous prosperity and opportunity. But it also has some downsides that we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of not eliminating jobs. It could increase inequality. It could suppress wages.

JOI ITO: This may upset some of my students at MIT, but one of my concerns is that it’s been a predominately male gang of kids, mostly white, who are building the core computer science around AI, and they’re more comfortable talking to computers than to human beings. A lot of them feel that if they could just make that science-fiction, generalized AI, we wouldn’t have to worry about all the messy stuff like politics and society. They think machines will just figure it all out for us.

OBAMA: Right.

ITO: But they underestimate the difficulties, and I feel like this is the year that artificial intelligence becomes more than just a computer science problem. Everybody needs to understand that how AI behaves is important. In the Media Lab we use the term extended intelligence1. Because the question is, how do we build societal values into AI?

1-Extended intelligence is using machine learning to extend the abilities of human intelligence.

OBAMA: When we had lunch a while back, Joi used the example of self-driving cars. The technology is essentially here. We have machines that can make a bunch of quick decisions that could drastically reduce traffic fatalities, drastically improve the efficiency of our transpor­tation grid, and help solve things like carbon emissions that are causing the warming of the planet. But Joi made a very elegant point, which is, what are the values that we’re going to embed in the cars? There are gonna be a bunch of choices that you have to make, the classic problem being: If the car is driving, you can swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian, but then you might hit a wall and kill yourself. It’s a moral decision, and who’s setting up those rules?

2-The car trolley problem is a 2016 MIT Media Lab study in which respondents weighed certain lose-lose situations facing a driverless car. E.g., is it better for five passengers to die so that five pedestrians can live, or is it better for the passengers to live while the pedestrians die?

ITO: When we did the car trolley problem2, we found that most people liked the idea that the driver and the passengers could be sacrificed to save many people. They also said they would never buy a self-driving car. [Laughs.]

DADICH: As we start to get into these ethical questions, what is the role of government?

OBAMA: The way I’ve been thinking about the regulatory structure as AI emerges is that, early in a technology, a thousand flowers should bloom. And the government should add a relatively light touch, investing heavily in research and making sure there’s a conversation between basic research and applied research. As technologies emerge and mature, then figuring out how they get incorporated into existing regulatory structures becomes a tougher problem, and the govern­ment needs to be involved a little bit more. Not always to force the new technology into the square peg that exists but to make sure the regulations reflect a broad base set of values. Otherwise, we may find that it’s disadvantaging certain people or certain groups.

3-Temple Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University who is autistic and often speaks on the subject.

ITO: I don’t know if you’ve heard of the neurodiversity movement, but Temple Grandin3 talks about this a lot. She says that Mozart and Einstein and Tesla would all be considered autistic if they were alive today.

OBAMA: They might be on the spectrum.

ITO: Right, on the spectrum. And if we were able to eliminate autism and make everyone neuro-­normal, I bet a whole slew of MIT kids would not be the way they are. One of the problems, whether we’re talking about autism or just diversity broadly, is when we allow the market to decide. Even though you probably wouldn’t want Einstein as your kid, saying “OK, I just want a normal kid” is not gonna lead to maximum societal benefit.

OBAMA: That goes to the larger issue that we wrestle with all the time around AI. Part of what makes us human are the kinks. They’re the mutations, the outliers, the flaws that create art or the new invention, right? We have to assume that if a system is perfect, then it’s static. And part of what makes us who we are, and part of what makes us alive, is that we’re dynamic and we’re surprised. One of the challenges that we’ll have to think about is, where and when is it appropriate for us to have things work exactly the way they’re supposed to, without surprises?

DADICH: When we’re talking about that extended intelligence as it applies to government, private industry, and academia, where should the center of that research live, if there even is a center?

ITO: I think MIT would argue that it should be at MIT. [Laughs.] Historically it probably would have been a group of academics with help from a government. But right now, most of the billion-dollar labs are in business.PQ-1.svg

OBAMA: We know the guys who are funding them, and if you talk to Larry Page or others, their general attitude, understandably, is, “The last thing we want is a bunch of bureaucrats slowing us down as we chase the unicorn out there.”

Part of the problem that we’ve seen is that our general commitment as a society to basic research has diminished. Our confidence in collective action has been chipped away, partly because of ideology and rhetoric.

The analogy that we still use when it comes to a great technology achievement, even 50 years later, is a moon shot. And somebody reminded me that the space program was half a percent of GDP. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in today’s dollars that would be $80 billion that we would be spending annually … on AI. Right now we’re spending probably less than a billion. That undoubtedly will accelerate, but part of what we’re gonna have to understand is that if we want the values of a diverse community represented in these breakthrough technologies, then government funding has to be a part of it. And if government is not part of financing it, then all these issues that Joi has raised about the values embedded in these technologies end up being potentially lost or at least not properly debated.

DADICH: You bring up a really interesting tension that Joi has written about: the difference between innovation that happens in the margins and the innovation that happens in something like the space program. How do we make sure the transmission of all these ideas can happen?PQ-1.svg

OBAMA: I’ve tried to emphasize that just because the government is financing it and helping to collect the data doesn’t mean that we hoard it or only the military has it. To give a very concrete example: Part of our project in precision medicine is to gather a big enough database of human genomes from a diverse enough set of Americans. But instead of giving money to Stanford or Harvard, where they’re hoarding their samples, we now have this entire genetic database that everybody has access to. There is a common set of values, a common architecture, to ensure that the research is shared and not monetized by one group.

4-Nick Bostrom is a renowned philosopher at the University of Oxford who has warned of the potential dangers of AI.

DADICH: But there are certainly some risks. We’ve heard from folks like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom4 who are concerned about AI’s potential to outpace our ability to understand it. As we move forward, how do we think about those concerns as we try to protect not only ourselves but humanity at scale?

OBAMA: Let me start with what I think is the more immediate concern—it’s a solvable problem in this category of specialized AI, and we have to be mindful of it. If you’ve got a computer that can play Go, a pretty complicated game with a lot of variations, then developing an algorithm that lets you maximize profits on the New York Stock Exchange is probably within sight. And if one person or organization got there first, they could bring down the stock market pretty quickly, or at least they could raise questions about the integrity of the financial markets.

Then there could be an algorithm that said, “Go penetrate the nuclear codes and figure out how to launch some missiles.” If that’s its only job, if it’s self-teaching and it’s just a really effective algorithm, then you’ve got problems. I think my directive to my national security team is, don’t worry as much yet about machines taking over the world. Worry about the capacity of either nonstate actors or hostile actors to penetrate systems, and in that sense it is not conceptually different than a lot of the cybersecurity work we’re doing. It just means that we’re gonna have to be better, because those who might deploy these systems are going to be a lot better now.

ITO: I generally agree. The only caveat is that there are a few people who believe that there is a fairly high-percentage chance that a generalized AI will happen in the next 10 years. But the way I look at it is that in order for that to happen, we’re going to need a dozen or two different breakthroughs. So you can monitor when you think these breakthroughs will happen.

OBAMA: And you just have to have somebody close to the power cord. [Laughs.] Right when you see it about to happen, you gotta yank that electricity out of the wall, man.

ITO: What’s important is to find the people who want to use AI for good—communities and leaders—and figure out how to help them use it.PQ-1.svg

OBAMA: Traditionally, when we think about security and protecting ourselves, we think in terms of armor or walls. Increasingly, I find myself looking to medicine and thinking about viruses, antibodies. Part of the reason why cybersecurity continues to be so hard is because the threat is not a bunch of tanks rolling at you but a whole bunch of systems that may be vulnerable to a worm getting in there. It means that we’ve got to think differently about our security, make different investments that may not be as sexy but may actually end up being as important as anything.

What I spend a lot of time worrying about are things like pandemics. You can’t build walls in order to prevent the next airborne lethal flu from landing on our shores. Instead, what we need to be able to do is set up systems to create public health systems in all parts of the world, click triggers that tell us when we see something emerging, and make sure we’ve got quick protocols and systems that allow us to make vaccines a lot smarter. So if you take a public health model, and you think about how we can deal with, you know, the problems of cybersecurity, a lot may end up being really helpful in thinking about the AI threats.

ITO: And just one thing that I think is interesting is when we start to look at the microbiome. There’s a lot of evidence to show that introducing good bacteria to fight bad bacteria—to not sterilize—is a strategy.

5-The first pets. Portuguese water dogs. Very cute.

OBAMA: Absolutely. I still don’t let Sunny and Bo5 lick me, because when I walk them on the side lawn, some of the things I see them picking up and chewing on, I don’t want that, man. [Laughs.]

ITO: We have to rethink what clean means, and it’s similar whether you’re talking about cybersecurity or national security. I think that the notion that you can make strict orders or that you can eliminate every possible pathogen is difficult.

DADICH: Is there also a risk that this creates a new kind of arms race?

OBAMA: I think there’s no doubt that developing international norms, protocols, and verification mechanisms around cybersecurity generally, and AI in particular, is in its infancy. Part of what makes this an interesting problem is that the line between offense and defense is pretty blurred. And at a time when there’s been a lot of mistrust built up about government, that makes it difficult. When you have countries around the world who see America as the preeminent cyberpower, now is the time for us to say, “We’re willing to restrain ourselves if you are willing to restrain yourselves.” The challenge is the most sophisticated state actors—Russia, China, Iran—don’t always embody the same values and norms that we do. But we’re gonna have to surface this as an international issue in order for us to be effective.

ITO: I think we’re in a golden period where people want to talk to each other. If we can make sure that the funding and the energy goes to support open sharing, there is a lot of upside. You can’t really get that good at it in a vacuum, and it’s still an international community for now.

OBAMA: I think Joi is exactly right, and that’s why we’ve been convening a series of meetings with everybody who’s interested in this. One thing that we haven’t talked about too much, and I just want to go back to, is we really have to think through the economic implications. Because most people aren’t spending a lot of time right now worrying about singularity—they are worrying about “Well, is my job going to be replaced by a machine?”

I tend to be on the optimistic side—historically we’ve absorbed new technologies, and people find that new jobs are created, they migrate, and our standards of living generally go up. I do think that we may be in a slightly different period now, simply because of the pervasive applicability of AI and other technologies. High-skill folks do very well in these systems. They can leverage their talents, they can interface with machines to extend their reach, their sales, their products and services.

Low-wage, low-skill individuals become more and more redundant, and their jobs may not be replaced, but wages are suppressed. And if we are going to successfully manage this transition, we are going to have to have a societal conversation about how we manage this. How are we training and ensuring the economy is inclusive if, in fact, we are producing more than ever, but more and more of it is going to a small group at the top? How do we make sure that folks have a living income? And what does this mean in terms of us supporting things like the arts or culture or making sure our veterans are getting cared for? The social compact has to accommodate these new technologies, and our economic models have to accommodate them.

ITO: It’s actually nonintuitive which jobs get displaced, because I would bet if you had a computer that understood the medical system, was very good at diagnostics and such, the nurse or the pharmacist is less likely than the doctor to be replaced—they are less expensive. There are actually very high-level jobs, things like lawyers or auditors, that might disappear. Whereas a lot of the service businesses, the arts, and occupations that computers aren’t well suited for won’t be replaced. I don’t know what you think about universal basic income6, but as we start to see people getting displaced there’s also this idea that we can look at other models—like academia or the arts, where people have a purpose that isn’t tied directly to money. I think one of the problems is that there’s this general notion of, how can you be smart if you don’t have any money? In academia, I see a lot of smart people without money.

6-Universal basic income is a concept where all citizens receive at least a living wage, provided by the government as a form of social security.

OBAMA: You’re exactly right, and that’s what I mean by redesigning the social compact. Now, whether a universal income is the right model—is it gonna be accepted by a broad base of people?—that’s a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years. You’re also right that the jobs that are going be displaced by AI are not just low-skill service jobs; they might be high-skill jobs but ones that are repeatable and that computers can do. What is indisputable, though, is that as AI gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated—the computers are doing a lot of the work. As a consequence, we have to make some tougher decisions. We underpay teachers, despite the fact that it’s a really hard job and a really hard thing for a computer to do well. So for us to reexamine what we value, what we are collectively willing to pay for—whether it’s teachers, nurses, caregivers, moms or dads who stay at home, artists, all the things that are incredibly valuable to us right now but don’t rank high on the pay totem pole—that’s a conversation we need to begin to have.

DADICH: Mr. President, what technology are you looking at to solve the biggest challenges that you see in government?

OBAMA: There is a whole bunch of work we have to do around getting government to be more customer friendly and making it at least as easy to file your taxes as it is to order a pizza or buy an airline ticket. Whether it’s encouraging people to vote or dislodging Big Data so that people can use it more easily or getting their forms processed online more simply—there’s a huge amount of work to drag the federal government and state governments and local governments into the 21st century. The gap between the talent in the federal government and the private sector is actually not wide at all. The technology gap, though, is massive. When I first got here I always imagined the Situation Room would be this supercool thing, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, where he’d be moving around stuff. It’s not like that, at all. [Laughs.] Particularly when it comes to hunting down terrorists on the other side of the globe, the movies display this omniscience that we possess somehow, and it’s—it’s just not there yet, and it has been drastically underfunded and not properly designed.

In terms of the broader questions around technology, I am a firm believer that if we get climate change right, if we’re able to tap the brakes and figure out how we avoid a 6-foot rise in the oceans, that humanity is gonna figure stuff out. I’m pretty optimistic. And we’ve done a lot of good work, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Figuring out how we regulate connectivity on the Internet in a way that is accountable, transparent, and safe, that allows us to get at the bad guys but ensures that the government does not possess so much power in all of our lives that it becomes a tool for oppression—we’re still working on that. Some of this is a technological problem, with encryption being a good example. I’ve met with civil libertarians and national security people, over and over and over again. And it’s actually a nutty problem, because no one can give me a really good answer in terms of how we reconcile some of these issues.

Since this is a frontiers issue, the last thing I should mention is that I’m still a big space guy, and figuring out how to move into the next generation of space travel is something that we’re significantly underfunding. There’s some good work being done by the private sector, because increasingly it has displaced government funding on some of the “What the heck, why not?” ventures, the crazy ideas. When we think about spaceflight, we’re still thinking about basically the same chemical reactions we were using back in the Apollo flights. Fifty years later and it seems like we should—I don’t know if dilithium crystals7 are out there—but, you know, we should be getting some breakthroughs.

dilithium crystals are the material powering faster-than-light warp drives in almost all Federation starships.
DADICH: I understand you’re a Star Trek fan. That was a show inspired by a utopian view of technology—what about it shaped your vision of the future?

OBAMA: I was a sucker for Star Trek when I was a kid. They were always fun to watch. What made the show lasting was it wasn’t actu­ally about technology. It was about values and relationships. Which is why it didn’t matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad, right? They’d land on a planet and there are all these papier-mâché boulders. [Laughs.] But it didn’t matter because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems.

A recent movie captured the same spirit—The Martian. Not because it had a hugely complicated plot, but because it showed a bunch of different people trying to solve a problem. And employing creativity and grit and hard work, and having confidence that if it’s out there, we can figure it out. That is what I love most about America and why it continues to attract people from all around the world for all of the challenges that we face, that spirit of “Oh, we can figure this out.” And what I value most about science is this notion that we can figure this out. Well, we’re gonna try this—if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna figure out why it didn’t work and then we’re gonna try something else. And we will revel in our mistakes, because that is gonna teach us how to ultimately crack the code on the thing that we’re trying to solve. And if we ever lose that spirit, then we’re gonna lose what is essential about America and what I think is essential about being human.

ITO: I totally agree—I love the optimism of Star Trek. But I also think the Federation is amazingly diverse, the crew is diverse, and the bad guys aren’t usually evil—they’re just misguided.

OBAMA: Star Trek, like any good story, says that we’re all complicated, and we’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk [laughs] and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right? But that is what I mean about figuring it out. Part of figuring it out is being able to work across barriers and differences. There’s a certain faith in rationality, tempered by some humility. Which is true of the best art and true of the best science. The sense that we possess these incredible minds that we should use, and we’re still just scratching the surface, but we shouldn’t get too cocky. We should remind ourselves that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know.

Source : wired

If you need to do a little bit of sleuthing about someone, the Web can be a fantastic resource. Track down an address or a phone number, find a long-lost school friend, or simply verify information with this list of the best six people search engines on the Web. All of these search engines are hyper-focused on finding only people-related information. Note: at the time of this writing, all the information in these resources are free. Read Should I Pay To Find People Online? for more information about whether you should pay to find someone online.

information about whether you should pay to find someone online.


Pipl is a people search engine that scours the Invisible Web for information; basically, what that means is that you're going to get more than just the usual search engine results for whatever name you might be searching for. Pipl searches across social networking services, search engines, databases, etc. to find tidbits you might not usually find on a rudimentary search using a more generalized search engine. 


Wink searches across what you would find using a regular search engine as well as across social communities, online profiles, etc. You can also use Wink to manage your online presence by creating a Wink profile. You can "claim" and add various places where you might be active online, and manage them all in one convenient place. If you're looking for small tidbits of information across many different sources, Wink is a good choice. 


You can use Facebook to search for people you went to high school and college with, as well as work colleagues, friends from elementary school, and non-profit organizations. Facebook is also great for finding people in specific geographic locations living in your local area that you might not know about, as well as any kind of association, club, or group. While many people keep their Facebook profiles private (meaning that information is only visible to those in their immediate circles of friends and family), many people do not, which gives anyone who wants to find it immediate access to whatever they may be putting online. 


PeekYou adds an interesting twist to the world of free people search engines; it allows you to search for usernames across a variety of social networking communities. For instance: say you would like to learn more about the person who uses the handle "I-Love-Kittens"; you can use PeekYou to see what else they might be doing on the Web under that username (related: there's an astonishing amount of information you can dig up on someone using only their username. Read How to Track Someone Using Only a Username for more information). 



You can use LinkedIn to search through professional networks; you can also add your profile to network with other people with similar interests. By viewing other LinkedIn users' profiles, you can pick up quite a bit of interesting information: where they work, who they work with, their former positions, current or former supervisors, any kind of recommendations they might have received, and much more. Depending on privacy settings, you might not be able to see everything that someone on LinkedIn has provided in their profile; in addition, don't forget that if you are a registered user on LinkedIn, the fact that you looked at someone's profile will be made known to them. 


Zabasearch is a free people search engine that scours freely accessible public information and records. Everything found at Zabasearch is culled from public domain information, such as databases, court records, and phone directories.

Twitter is quickly becoming tech’s billion-dollar hot potato with Salesforce being the last to decline buying the 140-character social media platform. This could open the door for a potential bid from Japan’s Softbank, which has previously stated interest, has money to spend and incentives to acquire it.

Here are some of the reasons why Twitter could be turning Japanese.



Twitter and the hot potato game

About a month ago, Twitter started approaching several big tech companies about a possible sale or merger. To quickly run through the ensuing will-they-won’t-they, companies like Disney, Google and Microsoft all took a good look at Twitter, then all came back with a ‘no thanks, not interested.’ Salesforce has now joined the list of naysayers. Since then, Twitter’s stock has been moving in a direction that mimics a brick’s relationship with gravity. 

Japan loves Twitter

Part of the problem for Twitter is that its active user growth has stalled. At the same time, it is struggling to make money, not to mention compete with the social media that aren’t Facebook, who doesn’t/shouldn’t count. As seen in Vincenzo Consenza’s great maps of the world of social networks, Facebook pretty much rules any part of the world that isn’t Russia or China. Worryingly for Twitter, they also show how Instagram is steadily pushing Twitter out of the No. 2 spot in many countries.

However, the world maps also show something very peculiar about Japan. Here, Twitter is bigger than Facebook. 35 million Japanese actively use Twitter at least once a month, compared to 25 million active users for Facebook. The fact that Twitter is so popular in Softbank’s home market is one reason why Softbank could buy it. The underlying reason is data. 

140 digits of Kanji – and the U.S.

Twitter’s 140 character-limit has been both its strength and weakness in places like North America and Europe. In Japan, the picture is a bit different. Japan uses three alphabets. One of them is Kanji, where a single character can represent a whole word. That means that a single Japanese tweet can hold about as much data (or information, if you’re feeling generous) as the beginning of this article, until the ‘Japan loves Twitter’ sub-header. This information can be used to analyze user behavior, shopping preferences and other kinds of business intelligence. Twitter has already been eyeing Japan as a promising market for its business intelligence solutions, and Softbank would be able to use the data and analysis in relation to its other business areas.

While the home market remains massively important to Softbank, the company has also been making inroads—and acquisitions—in many other markets across the globe. Twitter’s mountains of data from people all around the world could provide valuable insights, and one area that would be of particular interest to Softbank is the U.S.

Money to burn

Then there is the fact that Softbank seems to have a mountain of cash to play with. The company recently announced that it was going to launch a $100 billion tech fund together with the Saudi Arabian government. Incidentally, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz is the second-largest single shareholder in Twitter. Softbank spent the summer buying UK chip manufacturer ARM for $31 billion and just last week led the U.S. biotech company Zymergen’s $130 million Series B round. Pretty good shopping for a couple of months.

The acquisitions show how Softbank is not afraid to use M&A to move into new business areas. One area that it hasn’t really invested in so far is social media, but as Seeking Alpha has pointed out, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son has previously stated that it would be getting into social media one way or the other. Now the former COO of Softbank, Nikesh Arora, said as recently as last year that the company would be interested in acquiring Twitter “at the right price.”

While these months saw Twitter’s stock rise on the back of the sale rumours, peaking at a market cap of around $17 billion, it has since fallen sharply. Today, Twitter’s market cap is just south of 12 billion. The question then remains if that is the right price for Softbank to get into social media – and if Twitter is the right way to do so.

Correction: This article previously quoted Twitter’s value rising to $25 billion on the back of the trade rumours.

Source : forbes

Monday, 17 October 2016 14:16

Google launches new AMP testing tool

Check out the new AMP testing tool in the Google Search Console. It combines AMP and structured data errors with a live preview.

Google has launched a new testing tool for AMP (accelerated mobile pages).

The new tool is available at https://search.google.com/search-console/amp and from within the Google Search Console.

The tool works on your mobile device and uses Google’s “live web-search infrastructure” to analyze the AMP page with the real Googlebot — so the result is done in real time. It tests the validity of the AMP markup and structured data on the page related to AMP.

If issues are found, you will be able to click on them to see details. Even the line in the source-code will be highlighted, showing you exactly where the error is.

It even has links to show you a live preview of how this page may appear in Google’s search results.

Here are screen shots:







Source : searchengineland.com

Regardless of your opinion of Donald Trump, there have been some accusations that he isn't always truthful when he makes statements. During the most recent debate, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, urged viewers to fact-check some of his claims. Whether or not Trump is any less truthful than other politicians is up for discussion.

Understandably, it can be hard for the average voter to know what is true, and what isn't. In other words, if a politician makes a bogus claim -- or 'bends' the truth -- how can a voter fact-check? Today, Google News is making it is easier to do so with a new "Fact Check" label for articles that offer fact-checking.

"Earlier this year, we added a 'Local Source' Tag to highlight local coverage of major stories. Today, we’re adding another new tag, 'Fact check', to help readers find fact checking in large news stories. You’ll see the tagged articles in the expanded story box on news.google.com and in the Google News and Weather iOS and Android apps, starting with the US and the UK",says Richard Gingras, Head of News, Google.

Gingras further explains, "Google News determines whether an article might contain fact checks in part by looking for the schema.org ClaimReview markup. We also look for sites that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks. Publishers who create fact-checks and would like to see it appear with the 'Fact check' tag should use that markup in fact-check articles. For more information, head on over to our help center".

top stories gjaCoix.width-800-600x500


It is important to note that Donald Trump is not the only politician that needs fact-checking, nor is he the first person to face such criticisms. Actually, no politician should be trusted unconditionally -- people should validate Hillary Clinton's claims too.

Fact-checking isn't just about politics either -- it can be a very important tool when taking in any new information, such as in sociological studies or scientific papers, for example. It is always a good idea to be skeptical and ask questions.

What do you think of this new "Fact Check" label? Tell me in the comments.

Source : betanews.com

How many times have you seen posts on tech sites about “hidden iPhone features” and thought to yourself, these tricks aren’t really hidden at all. We’ve even had a few articles here on BGR with tips that were indeed unknown to most users, but the savvy iOS device owners out there were undoubtedly familiar with at least a few of them.

Well, in this piece we’re going to tell you about 25 hidden features that are really, truly hidden. As in, you could look through your iPhone from now until the end of time and you wouldn’t find any of these tricks unless you know what you’re looking for.

In the past, many of the hidden tips we’ve seen on sites and even covered here are simply things that are buried in the Settings app in places people normally wouldn’t look. These are great things to know — plenty of people would make their camera flash blink with incoming messages if they knew that they could, for example — but they’re not really “hidden” or “secret,” per se.

Each of the tips that follow below, however, are completely hidden. There is no indication that these functions exist in iOS, and we guarantee that most users don’t know about them. In fact, we also guarantee that even the savviest iPhone owners among you will find at least one or two things you didn’t already know. In fact, ran this list past a friend who works at Apple and there were a few things that even he didn’t know.




Redial: In the Phone app, press the green call button on the keypad screen to make the last dialed number appear.

Clear cache: Make your iPhone run faster by clearing out the cache in several of Apple’s apps using a secret trick. In the App Store, Podcasts, Music, Game Center, iMessage and Phone apps, tap on any single tab icon at the bottom of the screen 10 times in a row.

Make TouchID work faster: Save the same fingerprint multiple times as different entries and TouchID will work much faster. This is especially useful on older phones like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s.

Spotlight conversions: Remember when we told you how easy conversions are in our post on Google search tricks? It’s even easier for iPhone users — just open Spotlight and type something like “20 euros in GBP,” and it will instantly perform the conversion.

Spotlight math: Want to do a quick math problem? No need to open the Calculator app, just pull down to open Spotlight and type it right there.

Delete numbers in the Calculator: Speaking of the Calculator, you can delete single digits when you tap the wrong number by swiping left or right on the screen where the numbers appear.

Clear RAM to make your phone run faster: Hold down the power button until you see “Slide to power off,” then let go and hold down the home button until the screen goes blank and your home screen reappears.

Burst mode: Hold down the camera’s shutter button to shoot in burst mode.

Remote shutter: Use the volume up or down button on your headphones to snap a photo in the Camera app.

Turn the flashlight off: How many times have you turned your flashlight on and wished that you didn’t have to swipe open the Control Panel again to shut it off? We’ll save you a step: simply swipe up on the camera icon on your lock screen and the flashlight will turn off.

3D Touch while drawing: All of the drawing tools and the eraser are pressure sensitive in the Notes app.

Close multiple apps at once: Double-tap the home button to open the app switcher and you can use two, even three fingers to slide multiple apps closed with one swipe.

Recently closed tabs: Want to reread this article on your phone but you forgot what site you were reading it on in the first place? Simply tap and hold on the + symbol in Safari on the tab carousel view to open a screen that lists all of your recently closed tabs.

Desktop version of a site: We all know you can request the desktop version of a mobile site in Safari but it’s easier to do than you think. Just hold down the reload button in the URL bar.

Peek at tabs: Not sure you want to open that tab in the Safari tab carousel? A 3D Touch will let you Peek at it first.

Peek at bookmarks: Did you know you can use 3D Touch to Peek at bookmarks before you open them?

Edit reminders: 3D Touch an item in your Reminders app to edit the time or add a location.

View only unread emails: So you don’t practice “inbox zero” like I do but you only want to see unread emails in your inbox. Tap the Mailboxes link in the top right corner of the Mail app and then tap Edit. Tap the circle next to “Unread” and you’ll have a new folder that contains only your unread emails.

Save a draft with one swipe: In the Mail app, tap on the subject line and swipe down to the bottom of the screen to save a draft.

Quick Reply: When you get a notification at the top of the screen that you have a new iMessage or SMS, pull the notification downward to reply without leaving the screen you’re on.

Hidden level(s): Slide to the left in the Compass app open the level. Then place your phone flat with the screen facing away from the ground to reveal a bubble level.

Artist Peek: 3D Touch an artist in the Music app to Peek at their music.

Reenable Low Power Mode: When Low Power Mode automatically shuts off as you charge, you’ll get a notification on your lock screen that it has been disabled. Swipe left on that notification to turn it back on.

Find an iPhone’s owner: Did you find a lost iPhone in a bar? Simply ask Siri, “whose phone is this?” and it will show you so you can get in touch with him or her and return it.

Reachability: This is one of the new iPhones’ best features and there are still SO many people who don’t know about it. Double-touch (don’t tap, touch) on the home button and the entire screen will shift down so you can reach the top without shifting your grip.

Source : foxnews

In the second installment of his two-part series on Google's quality updates (aka Phantom updates), columnist Glenn Gabe explains the connection between user experience and organic search performance.

In part one of this series, I covered a number of important points about Google’s quality updates (aka Phantom). I tried to provide a solid foundation for understanding what Phantom is and how it works, explaining its history, its path since 2015 and how it rolls out.

In part two, I’m going to dive deeper by providing examples of “low-quality user engagement” that I’ve seen on sites affected by Phantom. I’ve analyzed and helped many companies that have been impacted by Google’s quality updates since May of 2015, and I’ve seen many types of quality problems during my travels. Today, I’ll try and explain more about those problems and provide some recommendations for sites that have been impacted.

So fire up your proton packs. There’s ectoplasm ahead.

Back to school, back to algorithm updates

First, a quick note about what we’ve been seeing this fall so far. September of 2016 was one of the most volatile months in a long time from an algorithm update standpoint. We’ve witnessed a serious combination of updates since August 31, 2016.

First, Joy Hawkins picked up a major local algorithm change that many in the local space are calling Possum. That was combined with what looked like another quality update starting on August 31 (I’m covering Google’s quality updates in this series). And to add to the already volatile September,Penguin 4 was announced on September 23 (which started to roll out before the announcement date).

And if you’re thinking, “Would Google really roll out multiple algorithm updates at one time?,” the answer is YES. They have done this several times before. My favorite was the algorithm sandwich in April of 2012, when Google rolled out Panda, then Penguin 1.0, and then Panda again, all within 10 days.

But again, I saw many sites impacted by the August 31 update that were also impacted by previous quality updates. Here are two sites that were impacted by the early September update with a clear connection to previous quality updates. And I’m not referring to Penguin impact, which seems to have started mid-month. I’m referring to sites without Penguin issues that have been impacted by previous quality updates:




I’m planning on covering more about this soon, but I wanted to touch on the September volatility before we hop into this post. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Phantom and low-quality user engagement: hell hath no fury like a user scorned

After analyzing many sites that either dropped or surged during Google quality updates, I saw many examples of what I’m calling “low-quality user experience” (which could include low-quality content).

I’ve helped a lot of companies with Panda since 2011, and there is definitely overlap with some of the problems I surfaced with Phantom. That said, quality updates seem more focused on user experience than content quality. Below, I’ll cover some specific low-quality situations I’ve uncovered while analyzing sites impacted by Phantom.

It’s also important to note that there’s usually not just one problem that’s causing a drop from a quality update. There’s typically a combination of problems riddling a website. I can’t remember analyzing a single site that got hit hard that had just one smoking gun. It’s usually a battery of smoking guns working together. That’s important to understand.

Quick disclaimer: The list below does not cover every situation I’ve come across. It’s meant to give you a view of several core quality problems I’ve seen while analyzing sites impacted by Google’s quality updates. I cannot tell you for sure which problems are direct factors, which ones indirectly impact a site and which ones aren’t even taken into account. And again, it’s often a combination of problems that led to negative impact.

Personally, I believe Google can identify barriers to usability and the negative impact those barriers have on user engagement. And as I’ve always said, user happiness typically wins. Don’t frustrate users, force them a certain way, push ads on them, make them jump through hoops to accomplish a task and so forth.

One thing is for sure: I came across many, many sites during my Phantom travels that had serious quality problems (which included a number of the items I’m listing below).

Let’s get started.

Clumsy and frustrating user experience

I’ve seen many sites that were impacted negatively that employed a clumsy and frustrating user experience (UX). For example, I’ve looked at websites where the main content and supplementary content were completely disorganized, making it extremely hard to traverse pages within the site. Mind you, I’m using two large monitors working in tandem — imagine what a typical user would experience on a laptop, tablet, or even their phone!

I have also come across a number of situations where the user interface (UI) was breaking, the content was being blocked by user interface modules, and more. This can be extremely frustrating for users, as they can’t actually read all of the content on the page, can’t use the navigation in some areas and so on.


Taking a frustrating experience to another level, I’ve also analyzed situations where the site would block the user experience. For example, blocking the use of the back button in the browser, or identifying when users were moving to that area of the browser and then presenting a popup with the goal of getting those users to remain on the site.

To me, you’re adding fuel to a fire when you take control of someone’s browser (or inhibit the use of their browser’s functionality). And you also increase the level of creepiness when showing that you are tracking their mouse movements! I highly recommend not doing this.


Aggressive advertising

Then there were times ads were so prominent and aggressive that the main content was pushed down the page or squeezed into small areas of the page. And, in worst-case scenarios, I actually had a hard time finding the main content at all. Again, think about the horrible signals users could be sending Google after experiencing something like that.


Content rendering problems 

There were some sites I analyzed that were unknowingly having major problems with how Google rendered their content. For example, everything looked fine for users, but Google’s “fetch and render” tool revealed dangerous problems. That included giant popups in the render of every page of the site (hiding the main content).

I’ve also seen important pieces of content not rendering on desktop or mobile — and in worst-case scenarios, no content rendered at all. Needless to say, Google is going to have a hard time understanding your content if it can’t see it.


Note, John Mueller also addressed this situation in a recent Webmaster Hangout and explained that if Google can’t render the content properly, then it could have a hard time indexing and ranking that content. Again, beware.

Deception (ads, affiliate links, etc.)

One of the worst problems I’ve come across when analyzing both Panda and Phantom hits relates to ad deception. That’s when ads are woven into the main content and look like the main content. So users believe they are clicking on links that will take them to additional content on the same site, but instead, they are whisked off the site downstream to an advertiser.

That could be a shockingly bad user experience for visitors, but the ad deception ride typically doesn’t stop there. Some of those downstream, third-party sites are extremely aggressive content-wise, contain malware, force downloads, and more. So combine deception with danger, and you’ve got a horrible recipe for Mr. Phantom. Again, hell hath no fury like a user scorned.


Quick case study: I remember asking a business owner who was negatively impacted by a quality update why a content module in the middle of their pages that contained ads wasn’t marked as sponsored (The ads were deceptive). They said that the click-through rate was so good, they didn’t want to impact their numbers. So basically, they kept deceiving users to maintain ad revenue — not good, to say the least. It’s a prime example of what not to do.

In addition, you have to look no further than Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) to find specific callouts of ad deception, and how pages that employ that type of deception should be considered low-quality. I find many people still haven’t read Google’s QRG. I highly recommend doing so. You will find many examples of what I’m seeing while analyzing sites impacted by Google’s quality updates.


More excessive monetization

I also saw additional examples of aggressive monetization during my Phantom travels. For example, forcing users to view 38 pages of pagination in order to read an article (with only one paragraph per page). And of course, the site is feeding several ads per page to increase ad impressions with every click to a new page. Nice.

That worked until the sites were algorithmically punched in the face. You can read my post aboutPanda and aggressive advertising to learn more about that situation. Phantom has a one-two punch as well. Beware.

Excessive Pagination and Google Phantom

Aggressive popups and interstitials

First, yes, I know Google has not officially rolled out the mobile popup algorithm yet. But that will be a direct factor when it rolls out. For now, what I’m saying is that users could be so thrown off byaggressive popups and interstitials that they jump back to the search results quickly (resulting in extremely low dwell time). And as I’ve said a thousand times before, extremely low dwell time (in aggregate) is a strong signal to Google that users did not find what they wanted (or did not enjoy their experience on the site).

While analyzing sites negatively impacted by Google’s quality updates, I have seen manyexamples of sites presenting aggressive popups and other interstitials that completely inhibit the user experience (on both desktop and mobile). For some of the sites, the annoyance levels were through the roof.

Now take that frustration and extrapolate it over many users hitting the site, over an extended period of time, and you can see how bad a situation it could be, quality-wise. Then combine this with other low-quality problems, and the ectoplasm levels increase. Not good, to say the least.

It’s also important to note that Googlebot could end up seeing the popup as your main content. Yes, that means the amazing content you created will be sitting below the popup, and Googlebot could see that popup as your main content. Here’s a video of Google’s John Mueller explaining that.

The core point here is to not inhibit the user experience in any way. And aggressive popups and interstitials can absolutely do that. Beware.


Lackluster content not meeting user expectations

From a content standpoint, there were many examples of sites dropping off a cliff that contained content that simply couldn’t live up to user expectations. For example, I reviewed sites that were ranking for competitive queries, but the content did not delve deep enough to rank for those queries. (This often involved thin content that had no shot at providing what the user needed.)

Does this remind you of another algorithm Google has employed? (Cough, Panda.) Like I said, I’ve seen overlap with Panda during my Phantom travels.

As you can guess, many users were probably not happy with the content and jumped back to the search results. As I mentioned earlier, very low dwell time (in aggregate) is a powerful signal to Google that users were not happy with the result. It’s also a giant invitation to Panda and/or Phantom.


By the way, dwell time is not the same as bounce rate in Google Analytics. Very low dwell time is someone searching, visiting a page, and then returning to the search results very quickly.

I believe Google can understand this by niche — so a coupon site would be much different from a news site, which would be different from an e-commerce site. There are flaws with bounce rate in Google Analytics (and other analytics packages), but that’s for another post.

Low-quality supplementary content

I also saw many examples of horrible and unhelpful supplementary content. For example, if there’s an article on a specific subject, the supplementary content should be relevant and helpful. It shouldn’t contain a boatload of links to non-relevant content, contain deceptive and cloaked ads and so on.

It’s okay to have advertising, but make sure it can easily be identified as such. And help your users find more of your great content. Make sure the links you provide are relevant, helpful, and enhance the user experience.

Side note: Phantom eats rich snippets — scary, but true

One interesting side note (which I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about Phantom) is that when quality updates have rolled out, sites have gained or lost rich snippets. So it seems the algorithm has something built in that can strip or provide rich snippets. Either that, or Google is updating the rich snippets algorithm at the same time (tied to the quality threshold for displaying rich snippets that Google has mentioned several times).

So, not only can quality updates impact rankings, but it seems they can impact SERP treatment, too.

Phantom eats rich snippets.


Again, I chose to list several examples of what I’ve seen during my Phantom travels in this post, but I did not cover all of the low-quality situations I’ve seen. There are many!

Basically, the combination of strong user experience and high-quality content wins. Always try to exceed user expectations (from both a content standpoint and UX standpoint). Don’t deceive users, and don’t fall into the excessive monetization trap. That includes both desktop and mobile.

Remember, hell hath no fury like a user scorned. From what I’ve seen, users have a (new) voice now, and it’s called Phantom. Don’t make it angry. It probably won’t work out very well for you.

Exorcising the Phantom: what webmasters can do now

If you’ve been impacted by a quality update, or several, what can you do now? Below, I’ll provide some bullets containing important items that you can (and should) start today. And the first is key.

  • If you’ve been impacted negatively, don’t wait. Even Google’s John Mueller has said not to. Check 30:14 in the video.
  • Objectively measure the quality of your site. Go through your site like a typical user would. And if you have a hard time doing this objectively, have others go through your site and provide feedback. You might be surprised by what you surface.
  • Perform a thorough crawl analysis and audit of your site through a quality lens. This is always a great approach that can help surface quality problems. I use both DeepCrawl and Screaming Frog extensively(Note: I’m on the customer advisory board for DeepCrawl and have been a huge fan of using it for enterprise crawls for years.)
  • Understand the landing pages that have dropped, the queries those pages ranked for, and put yourself in the position of a user arriving from Google after searching for those queries. Does your content meet or exceed expectations?
  • Understand the “annoyance factor.” Popups, excessive pagination, deception, UIs breaking, thin content, user unhappiness and so on. Based upon my analyses, all of these are dangerous elements when it comes to Phantom.
  • Use “fetch and render” in Google Search Console to ensure you aren’t presenting problems to Googlebot. I’ve seen this a number of times with Phantom hits. If Google can’t see your content, it will have a hard time indexing and ranking that content.
  • Fix everything as quickly as you can, check all changes in staging, and then again right after you roll them out to production. Don’t make the situation worse by injecting more problems into your site. I’ve seen his happen, and it’s not pretty.
  • Similar to what I’ve said to Panda victims I have helped over the years, drive forward like you’re not being negatively impacted. Keep building high-quality content, meeting and exceeding user expectations, building new links naturally, building your brand, and more. Fight your way out of the ectoplasm. Remember, Google’s quality updates seem to require a refresh. Don’t give up.

Summary: Panda is in stealth mode, Phantom is front and center

With Panda now in stealth mode, there’s another algorithm that SEOs need to be aware of. We’ve seen a number of Google Quality Updates (aka Phantom) since May of 2015, and in my opinion, they heavily focus on “low-quality user experience.” I highly recommend reviewing your analytics reporting, understanding if you’ve been impacted, and then forming a plan of attack for maintaining the highest level of quality possible on your website.

Good luck, and be nice to Phantoms this Halloween!

Source : searchengineland

“When I look at where computing is headed, it’s clear to me that we’re evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world.” - Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

I’m watching the “Made by Google” launch event and wondering why the Silicon Valley search giant suddenly decided to roll out a bevy of branded devices: Pixel smartphones, Home digital assistant, Chromecast Ultra streaming TV and Daydream virtual reality headset. There’s plenty more to come, I’m sure.

Of course, Alphabet chief executive Larry Page and Google CEO Sundar Pichai didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s become an integrated device company.” This is clearly part of a long-term strategy, but it is an enormous strategic shift, nevertheless. The question is why?

Then it hit me: This is not an offensive move but a defensive one – an attempt to thwart an existential threat with the potential to blow up the company’s business model.

At the event, Pichai said, “It’s clear to me that we’re evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world.” Indeed, AI – more specifically, deep learning AI – is a disruptive core technology capable of transforming the competitive landscape. And Google is more likely to be disrupted than a disruptor in that transformation.

Deep learning is when there’s enough data and computers are powerful enough to program themselves. Gone are the algorithms Google uses to power search queries. With deep learning, computers write their own code. They figure it all out for themselves based on enormous amounts of data. And that renders Google’s algorithmic-based programming obsolete.

We are currently in the early stages of a transformation from algorithmic to AI-based queries. Let’s call the latter Smart Search. The problem is, Google makes 90% of its revenue off search advertising. The question is, what happens to that revenue stream when today’s text-based search becomes subsumed under voice-based Smart Search queries? What happens to the ads? That’s right, they disappear, along with the text.

Granted, you can have voice-based ads, but they’re not nearly as effective as text-based ads because voice is streaming. Since you can’t listen to two things at once, you can’t see the results and ads simultaneously as you would with text. And nobody wants to sit there listening to an ad while waiting to hear the results of their query.

More important, Google’s smart Assistant will compete with the likes of Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana, which don’t use ads. That’s simply not their business model. Google, on the other hand, is dependent on its dominance in search advertising. Eventually, that dominance will break down – and it’s beginning to look like eventually is coming sooner than anyone thought.

The deep learning AI revolution is developing very quickly. Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google are all scooping up startups, hiring talent and starting projects by the thousands. Which means the competitive landscape for Smart Search is up for grabs. And may the best AI platform win.

That will not happen all at once, of course, and it’s certainly not an “all or nothing” scenario. Users will still do text-based searches on their devices. But over time, they’ll be doing more and more queries verbally, and listening to responses that don’t have ads. Which means Google’s enormous ad revenues and profits will come under pressure.

There is one more factor, however. Augmented reality is coming, and when it does, all our screens will disappear. We’ll interact with the computing world in a more human or visual way. That’s when ads will return. In the interim, Google will face an increasingly competitive Smart Search environment made up of at least three or four AI query platforms.

Keep in mind that Google’s business interests are not necessarily aligned with those of Samsung, Xiaomi and other Android device-makers. That’s why it needed to develop and brand its own mobile devices which, incidentally, are made by Taiwan’s HTC.

As for Google’s decision to go up against Apple’s venerable ecosystem, that was an easy call. Facebook dominates in social media. Amazon dominates in retail. Microsoft dominates in corporate. The only viable strategy was to leverage its Android platform and take on Apple in the consumer device space.

It’s been a long time coming, but Google and Apple are finally, unquestionably, head-to-head competitors. You have to laugh at the irony.

When the FCC forced then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt off Apple’s board, he claimed that his company was not an iPhone competitor. That was in 2009, nearly two years after Android magically evolved from a Blackberry-like device with a physical keypad into practically an iPhone clone.

Steve Jobs would later vow to “spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” he said in Walter Isaacson’s biography. “I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." If he were alive today, I doubt if Jobs would find Google’s new strategy the least bit funny.

This is the wrap-up of the most popular posts and announcements on SEJ over the previous week. Newsletter subscribers are the first to receive this and other updates.

Penguin is Now Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

penguin is now running in real-time as a part of Google’s core algorithm. The update is already in effect in all languages. Learn what else has changed, which is based on some of the top requests from webmasters.

Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO

Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO

How are you optimizing your online presence to make your voice heard? It starts with ensuring you are up to date on on-page SEO basics to provide peak performance for your website and visibility for your target audience.

Popular Search Marketing Posts

Here is a rundown of the most popular posts on SEJ from last week:

  1. Penguin is Now a Real-Time Component of Google’s Core Algorithm, byMatt Southern
  2. Everything You Need to Know About On-Page SEO, by Ryan Clutter
  3. The Complete Guide to Mastering E-Commerce Product Page, byStoney G deGeyter
  4. 10 Reasons Why Your E-Commerce SEO Campaign is Failing, by James Brockbank
  5. Google AdWords Introduces Cross-Device Remarketing, by Matt Southern / [AD] Looks Aren’t Everything: Why a Successful Infographic is Much More Than Just Design
  6. The Difference Between Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Mobile-Friendly Pages, by Bharati Ahuja
  7. Managing Your Website’s SEO Health, by Melih Oztalay
  8. Google Displaying Vacation Prices on Front Page of Search Results, byMatt Southern
  9. Google Allo Keeps Messages Indefinitely, Raising Privacy Concerns, byMatt Southern
  10. Google Testing New Schema Markup for ‘Science Datasets’, by Matt Southern

Download This Week’s Episode of Marketing Nerds

In this Marketing Nerds episode, SEJ Chief Social Media Strategist, Brent Csutoras, was joined by Tom Anthony, Head of Research & Development at Distilled, to talk about the future of search, other technology trends, and how to put it all together to understand the main trajectories in the industry. Listen to the full episode, or download the MP3 here.

Original source of this article is Search Engine Journal

Saturday, 01 October 2016 18:18

Find and Solve Problems Don't copy Ideas

What strikes the minds of ordinary people who want to start a business in Nepal? A clothing store? A beauty parlour? A restaurant? Or a lounge bar? The techno-savvy ones, on the other hand, would probably think of starting an e-commerce company or may be a social networking site.

In other words, many aspiring entrepreneurs only think of copying someone else’s ideas, tweaking them a bit and rolling out the products as their own.

Well, this may work, but only in markets like China, according to Mahesh Murthy, managing partner of Mumbai-based Seedfund. China, for instance, has developed a replica version of Google search engine called Baidu. It also has its own Facebook in the form of Renren. And it has created the replica of Amazon called Alibaba.

“But Nepal is not like China. And it’s very likely that Google of Nepal will be the [authentic version of] Google itself, and Facebook of Nepal will be Facebook [created by Mark Zuckerberg]. So, don’t try to copy and paste, unless the government creates regulatory barriers to protect the [domestic] market,” Murthy told the NEXT Growth Conclave, a one-day seminar organised by M&S NEXT Venture Corp in Kathmandu on Sunday to promote start-up culture in the country.

Murthy, who has an employment history of around 35 years and has invested in start-up companies for the last 17 years, was of the view that “what works in one market may not work in the other”, as billions of dollars have been spent to create the next Amazon and Facebook and “they have failed”.

“So, create a product that creates delight. For this, your product needs to be different than others. [With this combination], that product can dominate the market,” Murthy told over 500 participants of the first-of-its-kind conference titled “Decoding Business Growth”, which brought together 12 prominent speakers from Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Nepal and Thailand.

Murthy was trying to drive home the point that only companies that can create a niche for themselves can survive in this competitive world.

But how to come up with such an idea? Or, rather, how to create an entrepreneurial mindset that has the ability to think differently?

For this, one has to be motivated to learn, according to Joseph Jeong, founder of Hong Kong-based Oracle Strategies Cyberport. “Earlier, our brain was used as a hard drive to remember things,” Jeong explained. “Today, [because of digital revolution], our brain has started operating as a CPU [central processing unit], because everything one wants to learn is online. So, if you are willing to learn, you can find a mentor online.”

This learning might help one find passion and purpose, which will enable the aspiring entrepreneurs to set the “moonshot” goal, according to Jeong.

So, what can those “moonshot” goals be?

It can be anything, and you might stumble upon one, if you look around, identify problems and think of ways to create values, according to Sambhav Sirohiya, founding chairman of M&S NEXT Venture Corp.

“The biggest opportunities lie in biggest troubles.... Look around, we are living in one of the world’s poorest countries. As sad as it sounds, opportunities are sitting right here in front of you. So don’t focus on creating another website or another social media site. Think of bio-technology, robotics, 3D printers, and ending world poverty,” Sirohiya said, adding, success lies in creating values—true and honest values.

NEXT Launchpad rolled out

M&S NEXT Venture Corp on Sunday launched “NEXT Launchpad”, a mentorship-driven start-up accelerator programme, which prepares entrepreneurs. At the Launchpad, budding entrepreneurs go through four months of intensive learning and are taught how to refine business models, says the company. The mentors of the Launchpad are industry experts and veterans. The programme concludes when entrepreneurs present their growing companies to investors to secure funding. (PR)

Source : http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com

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