Website Search
Research Papers
Articles
FAQs
Easy Profile - Search plugin
Courses & Exams
Pages
Specialized Search Engines
Events Calender
Upcoming Events
Corey Parker

Corey Parker

How Top Stories Today gamed the system

Over the course of the last several years, every major social platform has been plagued by fake news. Now Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has a fake news problem of its own.

Because of how the search engine’s autofill feature works, people who visit Bing looking for news videos may be redirected to a flood of fake news videos, all generated by a single source. You can see how it works for yourself: click on the “News” tab from Bing’s homepage. The page autofills the search bar with “Top stories.” Now travel to any other search tab, including “Maps” or “Images” and you’ll see that the search bar retains the “Top stories” query. Autofilling “Top stories” into the search bar appears to be an innocuous design decision — until you hit the “Video” tab.

There, you’ll see a wall of videos including “Breaking: Germany demands immediate prosecution of Obama”; “The Royal wedding in jeopardy,” and “Russian is about to take out Obama permanently.” Many of the videos promote moves made by President Donald Trump, and offer criticism of former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Collectively, the videos have earned 83.6 million views.

And every video comes from one YouTube account: Top Stories Today, an account which appears to have been designed to game Bing’s design. The channel is devoted to promoting false and sensationalized news videos narrated by synthesized voices, which often speak in a kind of gibberish. “We report the genuine news and circumstances occurring the world over,” reads the account’s “about” page on YouTube. “Genuine Reports that the predominant press doesn’t need you to think about! We are your #ONE source for the most vital world event and stories happening every day!”

In content and in tone, Top Stories Today’s videos are reminiscent of the hoaxes that spread virally on Facebook and other platforms during the 2016 election.

“As soon as we become aware of this type of content, we take action to remove it from news search results, which we are doing in this case,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. A message sent to Top Stories Today was not returned.

Source: This article was published theverge.com By Casey Newton

Your iPhone may be an Apple product, but it can still run your favorite Google and Microsoft apps.

Just because you prefer the curved aesthetics of the iPhone doesn't mean you want to buy entirely into the Apple software ecosystem. After all, Google and Microsoft make iOS apps that are just as good as Apple's defaults. Although some apps require a few extra steps to replace the built-in versions, you can make the switch relatively easily, especially if you already use Google or Microsoft for your email and other cloud services.

Here, we'll guide you through the apps you need for the swap and how to download them. While you can always switch back to the Apple versions, you may find that you don't want to.

Switch to Microsoft

If your computer runs Windows, you own a Surface laptop or tablet, or you simply like Microsoft products, you'll probably enjoy the company's iOS apps. Instead of using the default versions of iPhone's email, cloud storage, and other services, here's how to replace them with Microsoft apps.

Email, calendar, and contacts

Start with your email client: You'll need to download Outlook for iOS. On top of email, it handles your calendars and contacts, and it can work with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft (like, say, Apple) user accounts. To import any emails, calendars, or contacts into the app, tap the menu button on the top left, then the settings button (the cog icon), and choose Add account.

Calls and messaging

Skype for iOS can take care of all your video calling, voice calling, and messaging needs. However, Apple's mobile platform won't allow any app to take over SMS duties, so you're stuck with its Messages app. Still, the newly-revamped Skype app has a clean look and a comprehensive set of features that includes group chats and group video calls. Your only problem might be getting your friends to use it.

Cloud storage

You can also replace Apple's cloud-storage program iCloud with Microsoft's OneDrive. When you install the app for iOS, it will sync files between your phone and any computer, Windows or macOS, that has the OneDrive desktop client installed. OneDrive also backs up all the photos and videos on your phone, although you do have to pay for storage space if you've got a lot of files. Prices start at $2 a month.

AI assistant

As with Messages, you can't completely replace the iPhone's default digital assistant: When you press and hold the Home button, Siri is the AI that will launch. However, you can install Cortana for iOS and launch it manually, then direct all your queries to Microsoft's app instead of Apple's. You can also sync any reminders and notes you've made in Cortana for Windows or Android over to your iPhone.

Office suite

For your work needs, you'll need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Swap Apple's free Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote apps for, respectively, Microsoft's free WordExcel, and PowerPoint apps.

If you've already created documents in the Apple apps, you'll need to convert them to a format that Microsoft's versions can understand. To do so, open a file, then tap the menu button (three dots on the top right), choose Export, and pick the Microsoft format. You can also choose how to export the file, either sending it via email or saving it to the iPhone's local storage.

Web browser

If you install the Microsoft Edge web browser on your iPhone, you'll be able to sync bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, and more with an Edge browser you use on a Windows PC. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't let any browser oust Safari as the default one on iOS. So when you tap on links in other apps, such as Facebook, they'll automatically open in Safari instead of Edge.

Your iPhone should be fairly well Microsoft-ized by now, but for the finishing touch, install Bing Search and Feed, which acts as a stripped-down web browser. Now that Microsoft Edge is available for iOS, Bing isn't quite as useful (we prefer Edge). But you can still use Microsoft's search engine to look for websites, images, news, and more. The app also includes a basic map-search feature, though Microsoft doesn't offer a dedicated mapping app for iOS.

Switch to Google

If you've decided to take the Google route rather than the Microsoft one, start with its signature feature: the Google search app. In addition to searching the internet and Google Maps, it provides a feed of news and other information that Google curates based on your previous activity, such as your Chrome browsing history. For a more natural, conversational approach to Google search, install the Google Assistant as well.

Email, calendar, and contacts

Next, install Gmail for iOS or Google's other email app, Inbox, which provides more automation and smart features. You can pick up your Gmail activity right where you left off on any of your other devices. Alternatively, connect Gmail to your Apple email address: Tap the menu button (the three lines on the top left), then your username, then Manage accounts, then Add account, and finally choose iCloudfrom the list.

You can also use your Gmail account to log into Google Calendar for iOS. The slick and easy-to-use calendar app is just as good on iPhones as it is on the web and everywhere else. It will, of course, sync all your Google events and appointments, and you can add your Apple calendars as well. To do so, tap the menu button (the three lines on the top left), pick Settings, tap Manage accounts, and turn the iCloudtoggle switch to on.

Calls and messaging

Again, Apple won't let you replace Messages as the default SMS app. But you can still manually use Google apps for the same purposes. Try Allo for text-based messaging, Duo for video calling, and Hangouts for messaging, phone calls, and video chats. While Hangouts remains the most comprehensive option, Google continues to add new features to Allo and Duo, so keep an eye on those apps as well.

Cloud storage

To back up your data, look no further than Google Drive, which will sync all your files with computers, other mobile devices, and your Google cloud locker. Drive also lets you save your Apple contacts to your Google account, even though Google doesn't offer a dedicated app for contacts: Open the menu (three lines on the top left), tap the cog icon, and hit Backup.

For larger files, specifically your iPhone photos and videos, Google Photos makes backing up a breeze. When you first install the app, it'll ask if you want to back up photos and videos. Say yes, and as long as you don't mind that it resizes your files (down to 16 megapixels for images and 1080p for videos), you can store an unlimited number of pictures and clips for free. If you want to keep your files at their original resolution, you can pay Google for extra space in the cloud, which starts at prices of $2 a month.

Office suite

Google has its own office apps for iOS, in the form of DocsSheets, and Slides. They interface seamlessly with the web versions, so you can keep creating and editing from anywhere.

If you've already created documents in the equivalent iOS apps, you may need to reformat them in order to open them with Google's apps. Launch the appropriate Apple app—Pages, Sheets, or Keynote—and then open the file you want to transfer. Next, tap the menu button (three dots on the top right), choose Export, and select the Google format option. Once you've exported the file, the appropriate Google app will be able to open it up.

Web browser

As mentioned previously, you can't completely replace Safari as the default browser on iOS. But you can still download Google Chrome for iOS and launch it manually when you want to explore the internet. Sign into the web browser with your Google account (it should prompt you to do so when you first open the app), and Chrome will carry over all of your bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, and other data from your computer. Even if most links will open in Safari by default, you can at least make sure Gmail links open in Chrome: Open Gmail, choosing Settings from the left-hand menu, then selecting Google apps, followed by Chrome.

Maps

Google offers some types of iOS apps that Microsoft doesn't. For example, you can rely on Google Maps to get from A to B quickly and safely and find places of note nearby. If you use the app online or on an Android device, you know you'll also get features such as live traffic updates and a list of favorite "starred" locations. If you need live directions, try it in full-screen turn-by-turn navigation mode.

Music and video players

Finally, there's Google Play Music and Google Play Movies & TV, which can effectively replace everything that iTunes and Apple Music usually do on an iPhone. They let you stream music, films, and television shows and even download content for offline access. What you can't do is purchase new content right from iOS, so if you're buying or renting something new, you need to pay up on a computer or other device before the content shows up on your iPhone.

Source: This article was published popsci.com By David Nield

When you are looking for businesses in your local area (be it sign writers to accounting firms), where do you turn? Sure, you may find local businesses through personal recommendations. But the majority of the time you’ll turn to search engines, particularly Google, to do a little online research.

According to Google, a third of mobile searches are local. That’s more than 500 million searches looking for local businesses – per day – on mobile devices alone.

When you also consider local searches are growing 50% faster than searches overall – it’s clear a presence in search results is becoming increasingly important to local businesses in general.

How To Get Shown in Local Search Results

Google My Business (GMB) is the perfect low-cost local SEO tool businesses can use to increase their presence in Google search and maps results.

If you pay close attention to the Google search engine results page when you do a local search you’ll notice a local ‘snack pack’ is displayed in the results. This set of features along with Google Maps is controlled by Google My Business.

Whilst listing on Google My Business is free and relatively straight-forward, for those who aren’t technically-inclined, executing GMB can be a scary prospect.

To help you through some of the most important strategies to maximize your Google My Business presence (and facilitate improvements in your local search engine results), here are my answers to some of the GMB questions I get asked the most:

1. How do I get started with Google My Business?

Similar to the other tools in Google’s library, GMB is entirely free. This makes GMB the perfect marketing tool for local businesses with limited resources.

To start, simply sign up for Google My Business. You’ll be directed to your GMB dashboard where you can enter your business information such as phone number, business category, website, etc. I recommend you complete all the required information as Google makes business suggestions to users according to the information you provide.

 Images are a must on your listing for two reasons:

  • Google wants to see both external and internal images of your business for verification purposes (include high quality-images of the building, signage and staff)
  • Users have become incredibly visually driven so the better your images, the more likely they are to get in contact.

A verification process is required to ensure you’re eligible to own the listing. Verification will usually be done through a postcard in the mail if your listing is new, and by phone call, if your listing is being transferred from a previous owner (For example, if you’re taking over a retail space that was previously verified). Once your business is verified, you will be able to make instant edits to the page should you need to do so.

2. How to manage the company listing?

Another issue that may crop up is that your business might be verified, but you’ve no idea who verified the listing on your company’s behalf. To get around this create a brand-new GMB listing using your domain name email as the primary owner. Google will then ask if you want to request management of the existing listing for the same location and will send an email to the current “owner.” The current owner has seven days to respond. If the owner doesn’t respond, Google will go ahead and release the listing to you.

During this process, you can see a hint of the “owner’s” email address including the first few letters and then **.com. Make sure you take a note of the email – because it will give you a hint as to who the owner may be.Quite often, the listing was claimed by a former employee, and you can simply log in to their email account and instantly reassign ownership to yourself.

3.  How do I fix incorrect or outdated information?

With local results favoring up-to-date information, and the consistency of your business name, address and phone number (NAP) being an integral part of the local search algorithm, it’s essential you keep your listing up to date.

Via your GMB account, you can edit your opening hours, photos, address, contact info, and images. One of the biggest local SEO mistakes businesses make is forgetting to update their GMB listing and business information elsewhere on the web.

If your business has recently moved or changed its phone number, ensure you update your GMB listing and all other instances of your business details whether that be on your own website and social media profiles or third-party business directories. When your name, address and phone number are consistent across all citations, Google’s confidence in your business information increases and in turn your local search presence improves.

4.  I don’t have time for this – can I get an agency to take care of my listing?

As part of a complete local SEO strategy, Google My Business provides the means to reach consumers when they are searching keywords related to what your business does.

But, for a lawyer to begin appearing for keywords like “lawyer Dubai” as opposed to “Jim’s law firm” requires more than just completing the Google My Business listing in full.

Ranking in local search results for category keywords is influenced by many other factors like backlinks to your website, reviews containing your target keywords, click-through-rate and more. This makes Google My Business most effective when it’s integrated into an entire search engine marketing strategy.

With local search continuing its rapid growth coupled with the increased usage of mobile devices used by consumers on the go, GMB is essential for local businesses looking to enhance their online visibility. It’s a comprehensive platform that when coupled with a complete local SEO strategy will assist in increasing your company’s chances of appearing as a top search result.

Source: This article was published forbesmiddleeast.com By James Reynolds

PERHAPS YOU'VE BEEN hearing strange sounds in your home—ghostly creaks and moans, random Rick Astley tunes, Alexa commands issued in someone else's voice. If so, you haven't necessarily lost your mind. Instead, if you own one of a few models of the internet-connected speaker and you've been careless with your network settings, you might be one of the thousands of people whose Sonos or Bose devices have been left wide open to audio hijacking by hackers around the world.

Researchers at Trend Micro have found that some models of Sonos and Bose speakers—including the Sonos Play:1, the newer Sonos One, and Bose SoundTouch systems—can be pinpointed online with simple internet scans, accessed remotely, and then commandeered with straightforward tricks to play any audio file that a hacker chooses. Only a small fraction of the total number of Bose and Sonos speakers were found to be accessible in their scans. But the researchers warn that anyone with a compromised device on their home network, or who has opened up their network to provide direct access to a server they're running to the external internet—say, to host a game server or share files—has potentially left their fancy speakers vulnerable to an epic aural prank.

"The unfortunate reality is that these devices assume the network they're sitting on is trusted, and we all should know better than that at this point," says Mark Nunnikhoven, a Trend Micro research director. "Anyone can go in and start controlling your speaker sounds," if you have a compromised devices, or even just a carelessly configured network.

{youtube}sSIIEgZrfus{/youtube}

Trend's researchers found that scanning tools like NMap and Shodan can easily spot those exposed speakers. They identified between 2,000 and 5,000 Sonos devices online, depending on the timing of their scans, and between 400 and 500 Bose devices. The impacted models allow any device on the same network to access the APIs they use to interface with apps like Spotify or Pandora without any sort of authentication. Tapping into that API, the researchers could simply ask the speakers to play an audio file hosted at any URL they chose, and the speakers would obey.

The researchers note that audio attack could even be used to speak commands from someone's Sonos or Bose speaker to their nearby Amazon Echo or Google Home. They went so far as to test out the attack on the Sonos One, which has Amazon's Alexa voice assistant integrated into its software. By triggering the speaker to speak commands, they could actually manipulate it into talking to itself and then executing the commands it had spoken.

Given that those voice assistant devices often control smart home features from lighting to door locks, Trend Micro's Nunnikhoven argues that they could be exploited for attacks that go beyond mere pranks. "Now I can start to run through more devious scenarios and really start to access the smart devices in your home," he says.

'Anyone can go in and start controlling your speaker sounds.'

MARK NUNNIKHOVEN, TREND MICRO

Given the complexity of those voice assistant attacks, however, pranks are far more likely. And the audio-hacker haunting Trend Micro warns about may have already actually happened in the wild. The company's researchers point to one posting from a customer on a Sonos forum who reported earlier this year that her speaker had begun randomly playing sounds like door creaks, baby cries, and glass breaking. "It was really loud!" she wrote. "It's starting to freak me out and I don't know how to stop it." She eventually resorted to unplugging the speaker.

Beyond merely playing sounds through a victim's device, a hacker could also determine information like what file a vulnerable speaker is currently playing, the name of someone's accounts on services like Spotify and Pandora, and the name of their Wi-Fi network. In testing devices running an older version of Sonos software, they even found that they could identify more detailed information, like the IP addresses and device IDs of gadgets that had connected to the speaker.

After Trend Micro warned Sonos about its findings, the company pushed out an update to reduce that information leakage. But Bose has yet to respond to Trend Micro's warnings about its security vulnerabilities, and both companies' speakers remain vulnerable to the audio API attack when their speakers are left accessible on the internet. A Sonos spokesperson wrote in response to an inquiry from WIRED that the company is "looking into this more, but what you are referencing is a misconfiguration of a user’s network that impacts a very small number of customers that may have exposed their device to a public network. We do not recommend this type of set-up for our customers." Bose has yet responded to WIRED's request for comment on Trend Micro's research.

None of this adds up to much of a critical security threat for the average audiophile. But it does mean owners of internet-connected speakers should think twice about opening holes in their network designed to let external visitors into other servers. And if they do, they should at least keep an ear out for any evil commands their Sonos might be whispering to their Echo after dark.

 

Source: This article was published wired.com By ANDY GREENBERG

Google is at it again, now testing a new way for searchers to expand their queries in image search on mobile.

Google is testing a new “related searches” box in the mobile version of the Google Image search results page. Robin Rozhon spotted the change and posted a screen shot on Twitter of this new box. I cannot replicate the new user interface, but it does look like others are also seeing this test.

Here is what it looks like:

Google frequently tests new user interfaces, so we are not sure if this new one will stick or fade away over the next couple of weeks.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Using the internet makes people happier, especially seniors and those with health problems that limit their ability to fully take part in social life, says a study in Computers in Human Behavior.

The issue: A generation after the internet began appearing widely in homes and offices, it is not unusual to hear people ask if near-constant access to the web has made us happier. Research on the association between internet use and happiness have been ambiguous. Some have found that the connectivity empowers people. A 2014  study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior notes that excessive time spent online can leave people socially isolated. Compulsive online behavior can have a negative impacton mental health.

A new paper examines if quality of life in the golden years is impacted by the ubiquitous internet.

An academic study worth reading: “Life Satisfaction in the Internet Age – Changes in the Past Decade,”published in Computers in Human Behavior, 2016.

Study summary: Sabina Lissitsa and Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin, two researchers in Israel, investigate how internet adoption impacts life satisfaction among Israelis over age 65, compared with working-age adults (aged 20-64). They use annual, repeated cross-sectional survey data collected by Israel’s statistics agency from 2003 to 2012 – totaling 75,523 respondents.

They define life satisfaction broadly — on perceptions of one’s health, job, education, empowerment, relationships and place in society — and asked respondents to rate their satisfaction on a four-point scale. They also measured specific types of internet use, for example email, social media and shopping.

Finally, Lissitsa and Chachashvili-Bolotin also analyzed demographic data, information on respondents’ health, the amount they interact with friends and how often, if at all, they feel lonely.

Findings:

  • Internet users report higher levels of life satisfaction than non-users. This finding:
    • Is higher among people with health problems.
    • Decreases over time (possibly because internet saturation is spreading, making it harder to compare those with and those without internet access).
    • Decreases as incomes rise.
  • Internet access among seniors rose from 8 to 34 percent between 2003 and 2012; among the younger group, access increased from 44 to 78 percent. Therefore, the digital divide grew during the study period.
  • Seniors who use the internet report higher levels of life satisfaction than seniors who do not.
  • “Internet adoption promotes life satisfaction in weaker social groups and can serve as a channel for increasing life satisfaction.”
  • Using email and shopping online are associated with an increase in life satisfaction.
  • Using social media and playing games have no association with life satisfaction. The authors speculate that this is because some people grow addicted and abuse these internet applications.
  • The ability to use the internet to seek information has an insignificant impact on happiness for the total sample. But it has a positive association for users with health problems — possibly because the internet increases their ability to interact with others.
  • The findings can be broadly generalized to other developed countries.

Helpful resources:

The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) publishes key data on the global internet economy.

The United Nations publishes the ICT Development Index to compare countries’ adoption of internet and communications technologies.

The Digital Economy and Society Index measures European Union members’ progress toward closing the digital divides in their societies.

Other research:

2015 article by the same authors examines rates of internet adoption by senior citizens.

2014 study looks at how compulsive online behavior is negatively associated with life satisfaction. Similarly, this 2014 article specifically focuses on the compulsive use of Facebook.

2014 study tests the association between happiness and online connections.

Journalist’s Resource has examined the cost of aging populations on national budgets around the world.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 11:16

Do you trust that news?

In its ongoing efforts to address the scourge of misleading and false news, Google recently announced a new feature that helps readers evaluate a news source they may not be familiar with. Now,  when you search for a particular publication, the Knowledge Panel – that preformatted answers box that often appears at the top of search results – includes information about that publisher.

advance online research methods librarians

Depending on the publication, that can include awards they have won, the topics they cover most extensively and their political alignment. If content from the publication has recently been reviewed by an authoritative fact-checker, those items are also featured in the Knowledge Panel. [UPDATED: This seems to work in Google Chrome and Safari, but not Firefox. Thanks, Pam Wren, for the heads up!]

So, for example, if you Google “Wall Street Journal”, your search results page will include a Knowledge Panel like this:

wsj

You’ll see a one-sentence blurb from the Wikipedia article about the newspaper, links to professional awards for reporting, and a summary of the topics they have recently covered — in the case of the Wall Street Journal, that’s the Federal Reserve, advertising, sales and taxes… about right for a newspaper described as business-focused.

And if you Google “Breitbart”, your search results page will include a Knowledge Panel like this:

breitbart

If you click the link for “Writes About”, you’ll see that Breitbart has recently covered Donald Trump, Barack Obama, the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton… what you might expect from what the Wikipedia article describes as a “far-right American news, opinion and commentary website”. But note the “Reviewed Claims” tab, highlighting reported facts that were then determined to be false by fact-checkers like SnopesPolitifact and FactCheck. This stands out as a concern — most news sources’ Knowledge Panels don’t include lists of reported facts that were questioned and reviewed by fact-checking sites.

This is a great way for librarians and information professionals to instill a little FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) when their clients assume that whatever they see on their Facebook feed is reliable. And check out Vanessa Otero’s infographic, What, Exactly, Are We Reading?,  a nice chart of where various media sources fall, both in terms of reliability/fabrication and liberal/conservative.

 

Source: This article was published reluctant-entrepreneur.com

In their book Write Your Business Plan, the staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. offer an in-depth understanding of what’s essential to any business plan, what’s appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors discuss the whys and hows of conducting market research.

Market research aims to understand the reasons consumers will buy your product. It studies such things as consumer behavior, including how cultural, societal and personal factors influence that behavior.

Market research is further split into two varieties: primary and secondary. Primary research studies customers directly, whereas secondary research studies information that others have gathered about customers. Primary research might be telephone interviews or online polls with randomly selected members of the target group. You can also study your own sales records to gather primary research. Secondary research might come from reports found on the websites of various other organizations or blogs written about the industry. For your plan, you can use either type of research or a combination of both.

The basic questions you’ll try to answer with your market research include:

Who are your customers? Describe them in terms of age, occupation, income, lifestyle, educational attainment, etc.

What do they buy now? Describe their buying habits relating to your product or service, including how much they buy, their favored suppliers, the most popular features and the predominant price points.

Why do they buy? This is the tricky one, attempting as it does to delve into consumers’ heads. Answers will depend on the product and its uses. Cookware buyers may buy the products that offer the most effective nonstick surfaces, or those that give the most pans in a package for a given amount of money, or those that come in the most decorative colors.

What will make them buy from you? Although some of these questions may seem difficult, you’d be surprised at the detailed information that's available about markets, sales figures and consumer buying motivations. Tapping information sources to provide the answers to as many questions as you can will make your plan more convincing and your odds of success higher. Also, the business plan software programs have detailed research included and online research available. Utilize this functionality if you're using such software, and add additional data you find elsewhere. The reason to add some of your own unique material is that everyone using the software program is tapping into the same database and you want your business plan to differ from that of the last entrepreneur in your field.

You can also find companies that will sell you everything from industry studies to credit reports on individual companies. Market research isn't cheap. It requires significant amounts of expertise, manpower and technology to develop solid research. Large companies routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars researching things they ultimately decide they’re not interested in. Smaller firms can’t afford to do that too often.

For companies of all sizes, the best market research is the research you do on your own. In-house market research might take the form of original telephone interviews with consumers, customized crunching of numbers from published sources or perhaps competitive intelligence you’ve gathered on your rivals through the social media. You can gather detailed research on customers, including their likes, dislikes and preferences, through Facebook, and use Google Analytics to sort out the numbers as they pertain to your web visitors. People are researching and making their opinions felt through their actions on the web, so you can gain a lot of marketing insight by looking closely at what is going on electronically.

You'll also want to do your due diligence within your industry. When looking at comparable businesses (and their data), find a close match. For comparative purposes, consider:

1. Companies of relative size

2. Companies serving the same geographic area, which could be global if you are planning to be a web-based business

3. Companies with a similar ownership structure. If your business has two partners, look for businesses run by a couple of partners rather than an advisory board of 12.

4. Companies that are relatively new. While you can learn from long-standing businesses, they may be successful today because of their 25-year business history and reputation.

You'll want to use the data you've gathered not only to determine how much business you could possibly do but also to figure out how you'll fit into and adapt to the marketplace.

Follow these steps to spending your market research dollars wisely:

1. Determine what you need to know about your market. The more focused the research, the more valuable it will be.

2. Prioritize the results of the first step. You can’t research everything, so concentrate on the information that will give you the best (or quickest) payback.

3. Review less-expensive research alternatives. Small Business Development Centers and the Small Business Administration can help you develop customer surveys. Your trade association will have good secondary research. Be creative.

4. Estimate the cost of performing the research yourself. Keep in mind that with the internet you should not have to spend a ton of money. If you’re considering hiring a consultant or a researcher, remember this is your dream, these are your goals, and this is your business. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.

Source: This article was published entrepreneur.com

Saturday, 16 September 2017 14:02

Google Reveals Most Popular ‘How To’ Searches

Site owners looking to capitalize on “how to” searches now have an all new source of data at their fingertips.

In addition to highlighting the most popular “how to” searches in a recent blog post, Google has also launched a new site that visualizes this data.

Searches that begin with “how to” are on the rise, growing by 140% in the last 13 years. Among those searches, people looking for help with ‘how to fix’ things are especially popular.

The Google Trends team has even broken down this data by geographic location.

North Americans are most concerned with how to fix their toilets, people in warm climates need the most help with fixing their fridge, and North and Eastern Europeans are most interested in how to fix a light bulb.

Google’s new ‘how to fix’ site lets users select from a drop down list of countries and see the most popular searches in their area.

The site also breaks down the most popular:

  • Cooking queries
  • Love-related queries
  • Coming-of-age queries
  • Difficult/technical queries
  • Health queries

There’s also brief mention of the top viral queries, with the most viral ‘how to’ query of the moment being “how to make slime.”

Google has compiled all this data to reveal the overall top ‘how to’ searches worldwide:

  1. how to tie a tie
  2. how to kiss
  3. how to get pregnant
  4. how to lose weight
  5. how to draw
  6. how to make money
  7. how to make pancakes
  8. how to write a cover letter
  9. how to make french toast
  10. how to lose belly fat

If you’re hungry for more data, Google has uploaded the top ‘how to’ searches from 2004 – 2017 on it’s GitHub page.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 11:39

Who Owns the Internet?

On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President.

Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian Internet.”

Chief among the plotters was an Ohioan named William Henry Smith. Smith ran the western arm of the Associated Press, and in this way controlled the bulk of the copy that ran in many small-town newspapers. The Western A.P. operated in tight affiliation—some would say collusion—with Western Union, which exercised a near-monopoly over the nation’s telegraph lines. Early in the campaign, Smith decided that he would employ any means necessary to assure a victory for Hayes, who, at the time, was serving a third term as Ohio’s governor. In the run-up to the Republican National Convention, Smith orchestrated the release of damaging information about the Governor’s rivals. Then he had the Western A.P. blare Hayes’s campaign statements and mute Tilden’s. At one point, an unflattering piece about Hayes appeared in the Chicago Times, a Democratic paper. (The piece claimed that Hayes, who had been a general in the Union Army, had accepted money from a soldier to give to the man’s family, but had failed to pass it on when the soldier died.) The A.P. flooded the wires with articles discrediting the story.

Once the votes had been counted, attention shifted to South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana—states where the results were disputed. Both parties dispatched emissaries to the three states to try to influence the Electoral College outcome. Telegrams sent by Tilden’s representatives were passed on to Smith, courtesy of Western Union. Smith, in turn, shared the contents of these dispatches with the Hayes forces. This proto-hack of the Democrats’ private communications gave the Republicans an obvious edge. Meanwhile, the A.P. sought and distributed legal opinions supporting Hayes. (Outraged Tilden supporters took to calling it the “Hayesociated Press.”) As Democrats watched what they considered to be the theft of the election, they fell into a funk.

“They are full of passion and want to do something desperate but hardly know how to,” one observer noted. Two days before Hayes was inaugurated, on March 5, 1877, the New York Sun appeared with a black border on the front page. “These are days of humiliation, shame and mourning for every patriotic American,” the paper’s editor wrote.

History, Mark Twain is supposed to have said, doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Once again, the President of the United States is a Republican who lost the popular vote. Once again, he was abetted by shadowy agents who manipulated the news. And once again Democrats are in a finger-pointing funk.

Journalists, congressional committees, and a special counsel are probing the details of what happened last fall. But two new books contend that the large lines of the problem are already clear. As in the eighteen-seventies, we are in the midst of a technological revolution that has altered the flow of information. Now, as then, just a few companies have taken control, and this concentration of power—which Americans have acquiesced to without ever really intending to, simply by clicking away—is subverting our democracy.

Thirty years ago, almost no one used the Internet for anything. Today, just about everybody uses it for everything. Even as the Web has grown, however, it has narrowed. Google now controls nearly ninety per cent of search advertising, Facebook almost eighty per cent of mobile social traffic, and Amazon about seventy-five per cent of e-book sales. Such dominance, Jonathan Taplin argues, in “Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy” (Little, Brown), is essentially monopolistic. In his account, the new monopolies are even more powerful than the old ones, which tended to be limited to a single product or service. Carnegie, Taplin suggests, would have been envious of the reach of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos.

Taplin, who until recently directed the Annenberg Innovation Lab, at the University of Southern California, started out as a tour manager. He worked with Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and the Band, and also with George Harrison, on the Concert for Bangladesh. In “Move Fast and Break Things,” Taplin draws extensively on this experience to illustrate the damage, both deliberate and collateral, that Big Tech is wreaking.

Consider the case of Levon Helm. He was the drummer for the Band, and, though he never got rich off his music, well into middle age he was supported by royalties. In 1999, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. That same year, Napster came along, followed by YouTube, in 2005. Helm’s royalty income, which had run to about a hundred thousand dollars a year, according to Taplin, dropped “to almost nothing.” When Helm died, in 2012, millions of people were still listening to the Band’s music, but hardly any of them were paying for it. (In the years between the founding of Napster and Helm’s death, total consumer spending on recorded music in the United States dropped by roughly seventy per cent.) Friends had to stage a benefit for Helm’s widow so that she could hold on to their house.

Google entered and more or less immediately took over the music business when it acquired YouTube, in 2006, for $1.65 billion in stock. As Taplin notes, just about “every single tune in the world is available on YouTube as a simple audio file (most of them posted by users).” Many of these files are illegal, but to Google this is inconsequential. Under the Digital Media Copyright Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton shortly after Google went live, Internet service providers aren’t liable for copyright infringement as long as they “expeditiously” take down or block access to the material once they’re notified of a problem. Musicians are constantly filing “takedown” notices—in just the first twelve weeks of last year, Google received such notices for more than two hundred million links—but, often, after one link is taken down, the song goes right back up at another one. In the fall of 2011, legislation aimed at curbing online copyright infringement, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was introduced. It had bipartisan support in Congress, and backing from such disparate groups as the National District Attorneys Association, the National League of Cities, the Association of Talent Agencies, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In January, 2012, the bill seemed headed toward passage, when Google decided to flex its market-concentrated muscles. In place of its usual colorful logo, the company posted on its search page a black rectangle along with the message “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” The resulting traffic overwhelmed congressional Web sites, and support for the bill evaporated. (Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, who had been one of the bill’s co-sponsors, denounced it on Facebook.)

Google itself doesn’t pirate music; it doesn’t have to. It’s selling the traffic—and, just as significant, the data about the traffic. Like the Koch brothers, Taplin observes, Google is “in the extraction industry.” Its business model is “to extract as much personal data from as many people in the world at the lowest possible price and to resell that data to as many companies as possible at the highest possible price.” And so Google profits from just about everything: cat videos, beheadings, alt-right rants, the Band performing “The Weight” at Woodstock, in 1969.

“I wasn’t always so skeptical,” Franklin Foer announces at the start of “World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech” (Penguin Press). Franklin, the eldest of the three famous Foer brothers, is a journalist, and he began his career, in the mid-nineties, working for Slate, which had then just been founded by Microsoft. The experience, Foer writes, was “exhilarating.” Later, he became the editor of The New Republic. The magazine was on the brink of ruin when, in 2012, it was purchased by Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, whose personal fortune was estimated at half a billion dollars.

Foer saw Hughes as a “savior,” who could provide, in addition to cash, “an insider’s knowledge of social media” and “a millennial imprimatur.” The two men set out to revitalize the magazine, hiring high-priced talent and redesigning the Web site. Foer recounts that he became so consumed with monitoring traffic to the magazine’s site, using a tool called Chartbeat, that he checked it even while standing at the urinal.

The era of good feeling didn’t last. In the fall of 2014, Foer heard that Hughes had hired someone to replace him, and that this shadow editor was “lunching around New York offering jobs at The New Republic.” Before Hughes had a chance to fire him, Foer quit, and most of the magazine’s editorial staff left with him. “World Without Mind” is a reflection on Foer’s experiences and on the larger forces reshaping American arts and letters, or what’s nowadays often called “content.”

“I hope this book doesn’t come across as fueled by anger, but I don’t want to deny my anger either,” he writes. “The tech companies are destroying something precious. . . . They have eroded the integrity of institutions—media, publishing—that supply the intellectual material that provokes thought and guides democracy. Their most precious asset is our most precious asset, our attention, and they have abused it.”

Much of Foer’s anger, like Taplin’s, is directed at piracy. “Once an underground, amateur pastime,” he writes, “the bootlegging of intellectual property” has become “an accepted business practice.” He points to the Huffington Post, since shortened to HuffPost, which rose to prominence largely by aggregating—or, if you prefer, pilfering—content from publications like the Times and the Washington Post. Then there’s Google Books. Google set out to scan every book in creation and make the volumes available online, without bothering to consult the copyright holders. (The project has been hobbled by lawsuits.) Newspapers and magazines (including this one) have tried to disrupt the disrupters by placing articles behind paywalls, but, Foer contends, in the contest against Big Tech publishers can’t win; the lineup is too lopsided. “When newspapers and magazines require subscriptions to access their pieces, Google and Facebook tend to bury them,” he writes. “Articles protected by stringent paywalls almost never have the popularity that algorithms reward with prominence.”

Foer acknowledges that prominence and popularity have always mattered in publishing. In every generation, the primary business of journalism has been to stay in business. In the nineteen-eighties, Dick Stolley, the founding editor of People, developed what might be thought of as an algorithm for the pre-digital age. It was a formula for picking cover images, and it ran as follows: Young is better than old. Pretty is better than ugly. Rich is better than poor. Movies are better than music. Music is better than television. Television is better than sports. And anything is better than politics.

But Stolley’s Law is to Chartbeat what a Boy Scout’s compass is to G.P.S. It is now possible to determine not just which covers sell magazines but which articles are getting the most traction, who’s e-mailing and tweeting them, and how long individual readers are sticking with them before clicking away. This sort of detailed information, combined with the pressure to generate traffic, has resulted in what Foer sees as a golden age of banality. He cites the “memorable yet utterly forgettable example” of Cecil the lion. In 2015, Cecil was shot with an arrow outside Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe, by a dentist from Minnesota. For whatever reason, the killing went viral and, according to Foer, “every news organization” (including, once again, this one) rushed to get in on the story, “so it could scrape some traffic from it.” He lists with evident scorn the titles of posts from Vox—“Eating Chicken Is Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil the Lion”—and The Atlantic’s Web site: “From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage.” (In July, Cecil’s son, Xanda, was shot, prompting another digital outpouring.)

Donald Trump, Foer argues, represents “the culmination” of this trend. In the lead-up to the campaign, Trump’s politics, such as they were, consisted of empty and outrageous claims. Although none deserved to be taken seriously, many had that coveted viral something. Trump’s utterances as a candidate were equally appalling, but on the Internet apparently nobody knows you’re a demagogue. “Trump began as Cecil the Lion, and then ended up president of the United States,” Foer writes.

Both Taplin and Foer begin their books with a discussion of the early days of personal computers, when the Web was still a Pynchonesque fantasy and lots of smart people believed that connecting the world’s PCs would lead to a more peaceful, just, and groovy society. Both cite Stewart Brand, who, after hanging out with Ken Kesey, dropping a lot of acid, and editing “The Whole Earth Catalog,” went on to create one of the first virtual networks, the Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link, otherwise known as well.

In an influential piece that appeared in Rolling Stone in 1972, Brand prophesied that, when computers became widely available, everyone would become a “computer bum” and “more empowered as individuals and co-operators.” This, he further predicted, could enhance “the richness and rigor of spontaneous creation and human interaction.” No longer would it be the editors at the Timesand the Washington Post and the producers at CBS News who decided what the public did (or didn’t) learn. No longer would the suits at the entertainment companies determine what the public did (or didn’t) hear.

“The Internet was supposed to be a boon for artists,” Taplin observes. “It was supposed to eliminate the ‘gatekeepers’—the big studios and record companies that decide which movies and music get widespread distribution.” Silicon Valley, Foer writes, was supposed to be a liberating force—“the disruptive agent that shatters the grip of the sclerotic, self-perpetuating mediocrity that constitutes the American elite.”

The Internet revolution has, indeed, sent heads rolling, as legions of bookstore owners, music critics, and cirrhotic editors can attest. But Brand’s dream, Taplin and Foer argue, has not been realized. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple—Europeans refer to the group simply as gafa—didn’t eliminate the gatekeepers; they took their place. Instead of becoming more egalitarian, the country has become less so: the gap between America’s rich and poor grows ever wider. Meanwhile, politically, the nation has lurched to the right. In Foer’s telling, it would be a lot easier to fix an election these days than it was in 1876, and a lot harder for anyone to know about it. All the Big Tech firms would have to do is tinker with some algorithms. They have become, Foer writes, “the most imposing gatekeepers in human history.”

This is a simple, satisfying narrative, and it allows Taplin and Foer to focus their ire on GAFA gazillionaires, like Zuckerberg and Larry Page. But, as an account of the “unpresidented” world in which we live, it seems to miss the point. Say what you will about Silicon Valley, most of its major players backed Hillary Clinton. This is confirmed by campaign-finance filings and, as it happens, by the Russian hack of Democratic National Committee e-mails. “I hope you are well—thinking of all of you often and following every move!” Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, at one point.

It is troubling that Facebook, Google, and Amazon have managed to grab for themselves such a large share of online revenue while relying on content created by others. Quite possibly, it is also anti-competitive. Still, it seems a stretch to blame gafa for the popularity of listicles or fake news.

Last fall, some Times reporters went looking for the source of a stream of largely fabricated pro-Trump stories that had run on a Web site called Departed. They traced them to a twenty-two-year-old computer-science student in Tbilisi named Beqa Latsabidze. He told the Times that he had begun the election season by pumping out flattering stories about Hillary Clinton, but the site hadn’t generated much interest. When he switched to pro-Trump nonsense, traffic had soared, and so had the site’s revenues. “For me, this is all about income,” Latsabidze said. Perhaps the real problem is not that Brand’s prophecy failed but that it came true. A “computer bum” sitting in Tbilisi is now so “empowered” as an individual that he can help turn an election halfway around the world.

Either out of conviction or simply out of habit, the gatekeepers of yore set a certain tone. They waved through news about state budget deficits and arms-control talks, while impeding the flow of loony conspiracy theories. Now Chartbeat allows everyone to see just how many (or, more to the point, how few) readers there really are for that report on the drought in South Sudan or that article on monopoly power and the Internet. And so it follows that there will be fewer such reports and fewer such articles. The Web is designed to give people what they want, which, for better or worse, is also the function of democracy.

Post-Cecil, post-fact, and mid-Trump, is there anything to be done? Taplin proposes a few fixes. To start, he wants the federal government to treat companies like Google and Facebook as monopolies and regulate them accordingly. (Relying on similar thinking, regulators in the European Union recently slapped Google with a $2.7-billion fine.)

Taplin notes that, in the late nineteen-forties, the U.S. Department of Justice went after A.T. & T., the Google of its day, for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The consent decree in the case, signed in 1956, compelled A.T. & T. to license all the patents owned by its research arm, Bell Labs, for a small fee. (One of the technologies affected by the decree was the transistor, which later proved essential to computers.) Google, he argues, could be similarly compelled to license its thousands of patents, including those for search algorithms, cell-phone operating systems, self-driving cars, smart thermostats, advertising exchanges, and virtual-reality platforms.

“It would seem that such a licensing program would be totally in line with Google’s stated ‘Don’t be evil’ corporate philosophy,” Taplin writes. At the same time, he urges musicians and filmmakers to take matters into their own hands by establishing their own distribution networks, along the lines of Magnum Photos, formed by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and others in 1947.

“What if artists ran a video and audio streaming site as a nonprofit cooperative (perhaps employing the technology in some of those free Google patents)?” he asks at one point. “I have no illusion that the existing business structures of cultural marketing will go away,” he observes at another. “But my hope is that we can build a parallel structure that will benefit all creators.”

Foer prefers the model of artisanal cheesemakers. ( “World Without Mind” apparently went to press before Amazon announced its intention to buy Whole Foods.) “The culture industries need to present themselves as the organic alternative, a symbol of status and aspiration,” he writes. “Subscriptions are the route away from the aisles of clickbait.” Just after the election, he notes, the Times added more than a hundred thousand new subscribers by marketing itself as a fake-news antidote. And, as an act of personal resistance, he suggests picking up a book. “If the tech companies hope to absorb the totality of human existence,” he writes, “then reading on paper is one of the few slivers of life that they can’t fully integrate.”

These remedies are all backward-looking. They take as a point of reference a world that has vanished, or is about to. (If Amazon has its way, even artisanal cheese will soon be delivered by drone.) Depending on how you look at things, this is either a strange place for meditations about the future to end up or a predictable one. People who worry about the fate of democracy still write (and read) books. Those who are determining it prefer to tweet. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the August 28, 2017, issue, with the headline “The Content of No Content.”

Source: This article was published newyorker.com By Elizabeth Kolbert

Page 1 of 26
Newsletter

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Internet research courses

airs logo

AIRS is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Subscribe to AIRS Newsletter

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Please wait

Follow Us on Social Media

Read more content?
Register or Login as "AIRS Guest"
Enjoy Guest Account
or

x
Create an account
x

or