Source: This article was published digit.in By Shubham Sharma - Contributed by Member: Alex Grey

The new Google College search feature aggregates data on colleges like admission rates, student demographics, majors available at the college, notable alumni and more, and displays them as a search result.

After rolling out job search feature on Search, Google now aims to make it easier for students to find the college of their choice. The company is rolling out a new feature to Search, which will enable users to simply search for a college and get information like admissions, cost, student life and more, directly as a search result. To provide an idea of how much a college will cost, Search will also display information about the average cost after applying student aid, including breakdowns by household income. 

The feature is currently available only in the US and Google says that it displays the results based on data sourced from public information from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which is a comprehensive data set available for 4-year colleges. We have reached out to Google for comments on whether or not this feature be made available for Indian users looking to study in the US or for those looking at colleges within India. The story will be updated once we receive a response. 

Google has also worked with education researchers and non-profit organizations, high school counselors, and admissions professionals to “build an experience to meet your college search needs.” When one searches for a college or a university, alongside the above-mentioned cost breakdown, there are also some other tabs that provide additional information about enrollment rates, majors available at the college, student demographics, notable alumni and more. There is also an ‘Outcome’ tab where one will find the percentage of students graduating from colleges or universities, along with the typical annual income of a graduate. In case you are interested in exploring other options, there is also ‘Similar Colleges’ tab.

Google states in its blog, “Information is scattered across the internet, and it’s not always clear what factors to consider and which pieces of information will be most useful for your decision. In fact, 63 percent of recently-enrolled and prospective students say they have often felt lost when researching college or financial aid options.” The new feature is now rolling out on mobile and some of the features will also be available on desktops.

Categorized in Search Engine

Search Engines

Search engines on the World Wide Web are remotely accessible programs that let you do keyword searches for information on the Internet. There are several types of search engines and searches may cover titles of documents, URL's, headers, or full text. Keep in mind that the results you get from one search engine may not match the results you get from another search engine. In fact, they are often different due to the way each search engine behaves. Therefore, it may actually be beneficial to use more than one search engine on a regular basis.

In this section, we briefly look at Google and Yahoo!. Web pages are often dynamic and can change at any time. As a result, you may find that if either site changes, your experience with JAWS may be different than what is described here.

Google

EXERCISE: Use the link below to go to the Google Website and follow along with the instructions.

When you first go to the Google Website there is a blinking cursor in an edit box where you can type the word or phrase that you are interested in.

Google Instant is a search enhancement that shows results as you type. It is designed to predict a person's search by updating the page and showing results while you type. It is a time-saving feature. However, because the page is changing as you type this can sometimes cause problems for screen reader users. You may find a link on the page that reads "Screen reader users, click here to turn off Google Instant." If you choose this link it makes your searches using a screen reader much easier.

To change your preferences for Google you can do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+F7 to open the JAWS list of links.
  2. Choose the link Options, and then press ENTER. A links submenu opens on the Google site.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the link Search Settings, and then press ENTER.
  4. Beneath the heading Google Instant predictions is an On/Off slider bar. At the time of this writing, it does not read well with JAWS. Press ENTER on it to go into forms mode.
  5. Press DOWN ARROW on this slider bar to turn the feature off.
  6. Press NUM PAD PLUS to get out of forms mode.
  7. Press B to move to the Save button at the bottom of the page, and then activate it by pressing ENTER.

To begin searching, for users of JAWS prior to version 10.0, the first thing you need to do is press the ENTER key to go into Forms Mode with JAWS. Once you are in Forms Mode, you can then type in keywords that will define your search.

If you are using JAWS 10.0 or later, forms mode comes on automatically when you get to a Web page which has the focus set to a blinking cursor in an edit box. If for some reason forms mode does not come on automatically on your computer, you can also press ENTER to go into forms mode, or you can press INSERT+F5 to open the Select a Form Field dialog box for JAWS.

MAGic Tip: MAGic users, just click into any edit box and forms mode comes on automatically for you.

JAWS Tip: New since JAWS 10, JAWS users who use a mouse can also click into edit boxes and forms mode comes on automatically.

After you have typed in some text, press ENTER to activate the Search button.

Google only returns Web pages that contain all of the words in your query. If you find that you get too many "hits" or Web pages that match your search, you can enter more words in your search query to narrow the choices.

Using good keywords gives you better results. Be as specific as you can. For example, a search for the keyword "musicians" will yield far more results than a search for the keywords "Elvis Presley." You do not need to include "and" between terms, but the order in which you type your keywords will affect the search results. You can also search for a specific phrase by including words in quotation marks. Google searches are not case sensitive.

You can also use the following items within your keywords for Google searches:

  • - (minus) sign. Causes Google to exclude a word from your search. For example, "JAWS" can refer to a screen reading software or a famous movie. You can exclude many of the movie-related hits by searching for "JAWS -movie." (Be sure to include a space before the minus sign and no spaces between the minus sign and the word "movie.") Searches for JAWS with different conditions yielded the following results:
    • JAWS, about 50,600,000 hits
    • JAWS windows -movie, about 8,600,000 hits
    • "JAWS screen reader" (in quotes) about 62,000

As you narrow your search and use better keywords, you get more relevant results.

  • Putting a phrase into quotes tells Google to look for the exact words in that exact order.
  • You can search for something within a specific website by typing the word or phrase followed by site:FreedomScientific.com (where the dot-com changes to whatever site you are searching.

The I'm Feeling Lucky™ button takes you directly to the first Web page Google returned for your query. You will not see the other search results at all. For example, to find the home page for Stanford University, simply enter "Stanford" into the search box and choose the I'm Feeling Lucky™ button. Google takes you directly to www.stanford.edu, the official homepage of Stanford University.

Try typing different things such as names, phone numbers, and more to find people or things.

Try a search for Freedom Scientific. Use this link to go to the Google Web site. On the results page, there are a couple of things you can do to get more information about the results of the search:

  • The statistics of your search are typically placed between the search edit box and the search results. You can press DOWN ARROW a few times to find this line, or you can use the JAWS find command CTRL+F to look for the word "Results," and then read that line. For example, when testing this, the search found, "About 86,400,000 for freedom scientific. (0.22 seconds)." This can be useful if you need to narrow the search.
  • Google uses a "main" region to guide you to the search results. You can press R to move from one region to another.
  • The items found as a result of your search are placed on the page as both links and headings. You can press the navigation quick key H to move quickly among the headings that match your search. Since they are also links, you can press ENTER to activate them and move to those Web pages of interest.
  • Below each heading (and link) that match your search is a short synopsis of what that page is about. After pressing H to move to a heading (link), just press DOWN ARROW to read the text below it for more information.
  • Remember, you can also press SHIFT+H to move backward.
  • There is also a good structure to the headings. The heading level one on the page is the Google logo and link that will take you back to the main Google page. The search results begin to be listed after a heading level two. The matches found for the search are all level three headings.

EXERCISE: Google uses regions to make navigation easier. Explore them by pressing R to move from region to region, and then press DOWN ARROW to move into the next section.

You can also read through the search results page using normal reading keys or use INSERT+F7 to open the list of links and see what related links were found. Use the Move to Link button in the links list ALT+M) to move to a particular link and then down arrow through the associated text to find out if this might be what you are looking for.

In addition to the information displayed on the initial results page, there are often links to more pages of information that meet your search criteria. These pages are reached by activating the link for the number of the page. Usually, you will find links for additional pages 2 through 10 near the bottom of each page. Each page beyond the first page also contains a number of items that match your search.

NOTE: Look for a region called "content information" to move to these links quickly.

Google Search Tools

Google also provides easy-to-use search tools. For example:

  • "Weather Chicago" yields the current weather in Chicago
  • "25 kilometers in miles" convert kilometers to miles
  • "Define screen magnification" yields definitions for screen magnification
  • "Seafood restaurants 33716" yields restaurants that serve seafood in or near that zip code
  • And so on...

NOTE: For both the Google Website and the Yahoo! Website discussed in the next section, be sure to check out the other links on their sites for Advanced Search, Help topics, and more.

Yahoo!.com

Yahoo! is another search engine that many people use. The main Yahoo! the page also has more information on it, such as sports and news headlines, entertainment links, and links to many other items. This tends to cause the page to appear more cluttered than the Google site but may prove itself useful to you as well. As with Google, when you first go to the Yahoo! Website there is a blinking cursor in an edit box.

For users of JAWS prior to version 10.0, the first thing you need to do is press the ENTER key to go into Forms Mode with JAWS. Once you are in Forms Mode, you can then type in keywords that will define your search.

If you are using JAWS 10.0 or later, forms mode comes on automatically when you get to a Web page which has the focus set to a blinking cursor in an edit box. If for some reason forms mode does not come on automatically on your computer, you can also press ENTER to go into forms mode, or you can press INSERT+F5 to open the Select a Form Field dialog box for JAWS.

MAGic Tip: MAGic users, just click into any edit box, and forms mode comes on automatically for you.

JAWS Tip: New since JAWS 10, JAWS users who use a mouse can also click into edit boxes and forms mode comes on automatically.

After you have typed in some text, press ENTER to activate the Search button.

Yahoo! behaves very much the same way as Google and displays a list of hits of matching items. These are links to further resources, and each link here also has a text description taken from that source that matches your query.

After a Yahoo! results page loads, press the letter H to move to the different headings on the page. Below the heading Search Results, you find the main links that match your search. Each contains a short text synopsis below it and a link for a cached version. Since the headings are also links, pressing ENTER on one takes you to the Web page indicated. Beneath each heading/link is text that describes a little bit about that page. Press INSERT+F7 to use the list of links to explore the links, or you can also press TAB to move from one link to another.

NOTE: Yahoo now also uses regions on search results pages. Look for the "main" region to guide you directly to the search results area.

To find the number of matches, use the JAWS Find and look for the word "results" without the quotes. You should hear something like the following: "50,300,911 results."

Yahoo! also has links to other results pages, just as Google does. These links show as numbers 2 through 10 and are located near the bottom of the page.

Going Beyond the Search Engine Results Page

OK, so what happens when you choose one of the links you find on a search engine page? What strategies do you use to find the information you were initially searching for on the resulting page?

ANSWER: All of the strategies you learned in this series of Surf's Up lessons, including:

  • Use N to jump past a series of links to move to the next block of text that has at least 25 characters without a link.
  • Use the list of links (INSERT+F7) to look for links that begin with specific words.
  • Use the list of headings (INSERT+F6) to look for structure in the headings on a page.
  • Use the JAWS Find to search for words or phrases on a Web page.
  • Look for regions.
  • Use the Adjust JAWS Options list to change things as needed such as:
    • Stoppage refreshes
    • Search for attributes, acronyms, abbreviations, and more.
  • Use the Custom Label feature of JAWS to label unlabeled links or unlabeled form fields on pages that you visit often.

Read More...

Source: This article was published freedomscientific.com

Categorized in Search Engine

This is the age of influence and networking. The success of a brand or an individual highly depends on the amount of influence earned as well as the level of networks created in the meantime. Today, the best place to power up influence and build network is social media and just like web search engines, there are number of cool social media search engines that can help you or your brand to find real people, build networks, and share or gain useful information required to raise influence within your niche market.

Yes, you heard it right. There are many specific social media search engines out there designed to help you find real people and user profiles across major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and many others.

The more people you can manage to add to your network from the same industry, your influence resultantly improves in the industry. And, there’s no better way to find people on the web other than looking for them via social media search engines.

Today, we bring you a cool list of top social media search engines that can help you find people within your industry nearby to grow your influence, reach, as well as network within the industry.

Best Social Media Search Engines to Find Real People across Top Social Networks

There is no doubt that Google is the most popular search engine on the web to find almost anything on the internet. However, even Google fails or is not up to the mark when finding people or profiles on popular social media channels.

Today, we will share some of the best social media search engines that would help you find real people as follows:

Social Mention

The first on our list is Social Mention. This web tool is systematically designed for people looking for social media contents that include blogs, microblogs, comments, bookmarks, videos, and more. With Social Mention, you can also set alerts and receive emails based on your searches for specific brands, celebrities, or company related updates. The tool is quite helpful for bloggers, who can install its real-time buzz widget on their blogs for maximum benefits.

WhosTalkin

WhosTalkin is another social media search engine that lets you explore conversations relevant to the topics that interest you. You can find updates about your favorite sport, favorite food, celebrity, or a company. With WhosTalkin, you can engage in conversations that are most relevant to the topics you like. This internet-based social media search engine tool is able to search through a number of social media networks and blogs for your favorite trending topics and conversations related your favorite celebrity, sports, food, places, videos, etc.

YoName

As the name of the search engine suggests, YoName lets you find people across different social media platforms by name. With YoName, you can search people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger blogs, and several others using the search form. Simply enter people’s name, email address, or phone number and then hit “Yo” to get the results. Besides social media search, YoName also supports web search, business search as well as public records search.

Anoox

Well, Anoox is not exactly a social media search engine but it allows you to get information via multiple social media websites as well as find answers to your queries from real people. At Anoox, you can share & discuss with real people for the best answer, truth, and in turn more traffic to your website or profile.

BoardReader

Unlike other social media search engines, BoardReader is a search tool for community forums and boards. With BoredReader, you can easily explore popular content spread across the internet including news, articles, videos, press releases, etc.

Bing Social

After Google, Bing is the 2nd most popular search engine on the web and its social arm known as Bing Social is designed to find the latest news and trending topics shared across popular social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks.

Addictomatic

Addictomatic is yet another social search tool to explore the latest news, trending topics, attractive blog posts, viral videos, and interesting pictures. This tool searches the best live sites on the internet to find the latest news, blog posts, videos, and images for you. With this tool, you can easily keep up with the latest updates on the hot trending topics, and keep up to date with the latest social media sensation on the web.

Twazzup

Twitter is a strong social media platform with lots of viral and trending news surfacing on this microblogging tool every single second as you are reading this article. Twazzup lets you search these trending news and topics across Twitter and lets you keep up with the social media buzz around the globe.

Snitch Name

Snitch Name is a white pages service for social networks. This amazing search tool is designed to search people’s profile over popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and other networks.

Blinkx

Videos are now an integral part of the social media world and Blinkx is a social media search engine dedicated to videos medium. One of the best social media search engines on the web, Blinkx is a search engine for videos with over million hours of regularly indexed online videos. This video search engine enables you to watch videos ranging from a wide variety of different categories including but not limited to news & politics, celebrity, technology, business, gaming, food, sports, and more assorted from all the major news portals and video sharing platforms.

Flickr Advanced Search

Flickr, as everyone knows, is one of the largest photo and video sharing platforms on the internet. While it lets you upload and view photos and videos on it, Flickr also lets you search for images or videos based on your topic using its advanced search tool embed with smart filters and variety of options designed to deliver accurate and effective results.

Source: This article was published geekdashboard.com By Rajeesh Nair

Categorized in Search Engine

Captain Information to the rescue! OK, you probably shouldn't put that on your business cards, but clients will recognize your heroic powers of research when you start an information consulting firm.

In the past, information consultants were generally ex-librarians or full-time librarians who moonlighted by doing extra research for clients. Things have changed a lot in the past 10 years. Now, primarily due to easier access to information online, information consultants can come from virtually any profession. Medical receptionists can become medical researchers. Magazine editors can become expert researchers in topics they used to cover in their magazines. Paralegals or legal secretaries can take their knowledge of legal matters into business doing research for lawyers. It's even possible for you to become an information consultant without any experience in the field by subcontracting work from established consultants. The possibilities are endless. Why, then, isn't everyone with any sense doing this type of work? The answer is simple: Many people are just not cut out for it. In the next section, we'll take a closer look at what it takes to be an information consultant, so you can decide whether the profession is right for you.

The Thrill of the Search

First, if you're planning to become an information consultant because it sounds like easy money, forget it. While you may get lucky and find information for a client quickly every once in a while or find out that two clients want similar information, you'll have just as many jobs where you'll be pulling your hair out trying to find information that doesn't seem to exist. The key to surviving in this field is to enjoy the work. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine whether you're cut out for information consulting:

  • Do you like to read?
  • Do you like research?
  • Are you a "people person"?
  • Are you a logical thinker?
  • Are you organized?
  • Are you disciplined?
  • Are you self-confident?
  • Are you computer-literate?
  • Can you handle the financial demands of starting a new business?

Finding Your Area of Expertise

Most information consultants start their businesses by doing work in fields they already have some experience in. As we mentioned earlier, people involved in the legal profession frequently start their businesses by doing research for law firms, and those involved in medicine often start off doing medical research. We all have to start somewhere, and beginning with something you already have a background in can be a big plus. Many people even leave their jobs (on good terms, of course) and start their businesses with their ex-employers as their first clients.

If you don't think you have an area of expertise, do a little research. You'll be surprised at the variety and extent of the information that companies need. Take a look at the websites for organizations devoted to information professionals. A good one to check out is the Association of Independent Information Professionals' website . There you can look at a list of AIIP members and the type of work they do. Many organizations like the AIIP have websites that also feature links to their members' sites. A look at the membership lists of those professional organizations and a quick visit to some of their members' sites will show you that information professionals specialize in everything from arts and humanities to zoology.

Do a little more searching, and you'll find that organizations such as the AIIP will allow you to join as an associate member. The AIIP offers a mentor program, where you can get advice about starting and operating your business from seasoned professionals. It's not free, but it could be a good place to get started. The organization also has a referral program for members.

The combined listings of The Burwell World Directory of Information Brokers and the membership of the Association of Independent Information Professionals amount to less than 2,000 people. Even if there are twice that many information professionals currently working in the field, that only amounts to the population of a single big-city high school. Certainly, there's plenty of room for more information consultants in the Information Age.

Target Market

In decades past, information consultants were considered dealers in obscure information. Companies hired them to dig through dusty old libraries and spools of microfiche to locate information that was difficult or too costly in terms of personnel hours to locate. Times have sure changed. Such a huge amount of information is now available that those who hire information consultants are often paying to have the information narrowed down to a few key topics. If the Web keeps expanding as it has in the past 10 years, it won't be long before clients start hiring information consultants to find other information consultants (just kidding, but you get the idea). So much information is available that those trying to find it can't see the forest for the trees. The talent shared by those who pursue information consulting as their life's work is the ability to enter that same forest and return in a reasonable amount of time with a list of the location and size of all the pine trees.

Filtering information has become such a big business that in some areas--especially the fast-moving high-tech world--there is a large enough market for specialized information that some consultants make their living by researching specific topics and offering their findings for sale on the Web. They use the information itself to attract customers. Some even collect data on specific industries and charge customers a subscription price to receive weekly bulletins via e-mail.

Many companies don't have the resources to do their own research. They may also not need research done regularly enough to justify taking on an employee to perform it. It's generally far more expensive to hire an employee and provide the needed equipment and benefits than it is to hire outside help. Here are a few of the types of clients you can expect to work for, should you decide information consulting is for you:

  • Lawyers looking for the historical background of a particular type of case.Lawyers constantly need to sort through old lawsuits to find precedent-setting decisions. Smaller firms are more likely to need outside help with this task. This type of information consulting is particularly fitting if you have a background in law--if you've been a paralegal or worked in the research department of a large legal firm, for example.
  • Corporations looking for information on competitors and potential suppliers.Believe it or not, many large companies really aren't all that knowledgeable about their competitors. Some will hire you to find out everything from the specifics of another company's product line to figures that show how profitable a company has been over the course of the past few years. Some use this information to make sure they remain competitive, and others use it to scope out potential strategic partners, suppliers and even companies to buy.
  • Companies or individuals looking for patent information. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel, right? That's why many companies hire information consultants to find out about potential patent and ownership conflicts. This is an especially important subject for high-tech developers, whose ideas may be considered intellectual property even if they're not patented.
  • Magazines compiling buyer's guides. If you've ever seen a 50-page buyer's guide in a magazine, chances are it was put together by an information consultant. Most publications don't have the time or the resources to put together a complete listing of products and services for their readers. This can be a good place to start for information consultants with knowledge of a particular industry.
  • Publishing companies looking for untapped markets in hopes of starting new magazines or newsletters. Publishing companies, especially ones that publish several magazines that each serve niche markets with small numbers of subscribers, are constantly trying to identify new markets. Once a new market is found, the search for competitors begins (to be sure there's a need for a new publication), and research is conducted to find out whether the market is valuable enough to warrant launching a new publication.
  • Investors seeking company background information. Sometimes the stock market numbers don't give the entire story, and providing financial and historical data on companies can help investors decide where to spend their money.
  • Individuals looking for personal information. For reasons that range from checking the truth of someone's resume to locating a long-lost relative, people often want to find personal information about other people. This type of research is performed for clients that include lawyers, private investigators, employers and even people digging into the pasts of potential spouses. Researching personal backgrounds is not for the faint of heart. While the information you're providing to the client is generally available in public records, there's no guarantee that the client's intentions are honorable. Before you start conducting personal research for clients, be sure to talk to a lawyer about potential liabilities.

Finding a Market for Your Services

Reading the examples of the different types of information people and companies are willing to pay for may lead you to wonder if there's anyone who doesn't need the services of an information consultant. The fact of the matter is, just about anyone can benefit from having more information. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

As an information consultant trying to make a living, you'll need to find out not only who needs information, but also who has the financial resources to pay for it. Hopefully, the suggestions given in this chapter will get the old gears turning in your head. If you have a background in general research or library science, you've got a head start into just about any area of research. If not, it's probably a good idea to keep your focus fairly narrow when you're starting out. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What subject would you be considered an authority on?
  • Is there a need for research in this area?
  • Are you willing to spend some time up front to find out whether those who need the information you can provide actually pay for research?
  • Is there a related field that may be more lucrative that you could learn more about?

All of these questions are important. If you intend to support yourself by being an information consultant, you need to find paying customers. Unfortunately, the areas that information consultants serve are extremely diverse, which makes it difficult to describe the actual procedure you'll use to find out whether there's a need for your talents.

A good first step is to become a voracious reader. Read absolutely every magazine and book available about your subject of choice. Become an expert. Becoming an expert on a particular subject is not as difficult as it sounds once you realize that most people are too busy doing their jobs to really learn everything there is to know about the field in which they work.

Once you've picked an area of expertise, test your research skills by finding contacts at companies you can provide services for. Call them up and introduce yourself. If they've never hired an information consultant, just knowing that someone is available may entice them to use your services. As you engage in this little exercise, you may be surprised by the number of companies that enlist the aid of information consultants.

Another way to find out more about the market for information in your area of expertise is to join an organization such as the AIIP. This kind of organization gives you access to people who have years of experience as information consultants. The AIIP also provides a listing on the internet where you can display your area of expertise and find others who do similar types of research. The key to taking advantage of this type of resource is to become a resource yourself. You may need information on starting a business, and someone else may ask your advice on issues in your area of strength. You'll reap as much as you sow.

Established information consultants rarely turn down a job--even if it isn't in their particular knowledge niche. It's entirely possible that another consultant may hire you as a subcontractor based on your background or skill set. While the client may not know who you are, it's a foot in the door and a great way to get experience.

Startup Costs

There are two ways to go about buying the equipment you need to launch your information consulting business. Your first option is to upgrade your office and equipment as needed. You can get by at first with an inexpensive computer, a few software programs, the least expensive internet access you can find, and the furniture and office supplies you have around the house. From there, you can slowly work up to a DSL line, a super-fast computer and the chair that looks like it came out of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

Your second option is to start out spending a bunch of money and be prepared for just about anything. If you have the money, get the best equipment you can right from the start. Why? Upgrading any part of your business will cause downtime--time when you're not doing work that you're billing for. Even switching to a new desk will probably cost you a day of work while you rearrange your office.

Here's a list of the average startup costs for an information consultant who's working from a home office (which is usually the case). Because it's assumed that you'll be starting out from the comfort of your home, this list of expenses does not include office space or equipment for additional employees. The costs shown are estimates based on reasonable expenditures for computer equipment, furniture and the like. For example, if you're buying a $3,500 computer and spending $2,000 for a Chippendale desk and chair, your expenses will be higher. If you're using a computer you already own and an old kitchen table for a desk, your costs will be significantly lower.

Item Price
Office Furniture $350
Computer Hardware $1,500
Computer Software $700
Phone & Fax Machine $200
Printed Collateral
(Business Cards, Letterhead Stationery)
$100
Phone Line Installation (Two lines) $150
Other Communication Devices (Cell Phone, Pager) $100
Miscellaneous Expenses
(add About 10% of Total)
$310
Total Startup Costs $3,410

Ongoing Costs

The monthly expenses for an information consultant are really pretty minimal when compared to other types of businesses. Assuming you're working at home, expect your electric bill to increase about $25 per month from running your office machines. Your ISP will charge around $25 per month for unlimited web access and e-mail. Throw in paper for your fax machine and consumables for your printer, and you're looking at about another $15 per month. Each phone line will cost you about $25 per month. So without including long-distance phone calls and high-speed internet access, you can expect to pay a little under $200 per month in expenses. With cable modem or DSL access included, it still comes to under $250 per month.

Depending on where your clients and contacts are located, your phone bill can sometimes be a frightening surprise. Keep an eye on it. Send faxes at the least expensive times of day (some fax machines have this feature built in), and bill your clients for any long distance calls you make on their behalf. You may also want to shop around for the least expensive long distance service available in your area. The difference between seven cents a minute and ten cents a minute may seem small, but it really adds up if you spend a lot of time with the phone attached to your ear. Some long distance companies even offer perks like frequent flier miles that can make them even more attractive. You have to take a vacation some time, don't you?

Operations

What can you expect to deal with each day as an information consultant? Well, as with any job, each day will bring its own challenges and rewards. When you're self-employed, as most information consultants are, discipline is required on a daily basis. You'll only be "making your own schedule" as far as your projects will allow. Sure, you may have a few days or afternoons when you can take a little time off, but you'll more than likely spend that down time drumming up business--unless you're so far ahead financially that you can afford to nap in the hammock for a while.

In this section, we'll take a look at a typical day in the life of an information consultant. This little synopsis assumes you're taking on an entire consulting business on your own. If you're going to be working with another person who takes on some of these tasks, you'll have more time to spend on your portion of the work--but you'll also need to get enough work to support the two (or more) of you.

9:00 a.m. Check Your e-Mail and Phone Messages
E-mail is the communication method of choice in today's business world. You'll need to check your e-mail constantly throughout the day for messages from clients. It's a good, quick way to send off brief notes, questions and project updates.

One of the many advantages of e-mail is that it allows you to keep a record of the correspondence you have with clients. With a little software savvy, you can create for yourself an electronic paper trail that shows what was requested by whom. Many e-mail programs will even sort your messages into different folders as they come in, so that you can keep the correspondence you have with each client separate.

Check your phone messages next. If you're on the West Coast, clients on the East Coast have a three-hour head start on you (unless you're a really early riser) and may already have been waiting a few hours for the answer to a question by the time you're having you morning cup of coffee. Follow up on any calls you've received from clients about current and future work--especially future work. When you're first starting out, it's quite possible to miss getting a job by not responding fast enough.

9:30 a.m. Primary Research
Unless a client specifically asks only for what you can find on the web or another online resource, you're going to have to do some primary research to fill out what you've dug up electronically or from libraries or wherever else you've been researching. Primary research means going straight to the horse's mouth by calling companies or people who have written articles about the topic you're researching.

Primary research frequently involves interviewing experts about a subject. You'll need to find these experts first, but they can be very helpful in keeping you up to date. If you're focusing on a particular area of research, developing good relationships with experts can be very valuable. Are there magazines or newsletters devoted to your area of expertise? Subscribe to them, and try to develop relationships with the editors. Are there conferences devoted to your research specialty? Attend them (cost permitting) to keep up to date with new developments and make other important contacts.

11:00 a.m. Contracts, Bills, Invoices and Project Scheduling
Ahh, here we are. The inevitable (and usually least favorite) part of running any business: paperwork. Establishing contracts with clients is important; it ensures that both you and the client know what to expect. Is there a limit to the number of hours you'll work? Are there limits to where you'll do the research? Is it clear how much you'll be charging for the job? All those things need to be reviewed carefully and put in writing to prevent you and the client from having misunderstandings later on.

Pay the bills. You don't want your phone shut off in the middle of a project, and you don't want your ISP to stop your e-mail service. Have you subcontracted any work to other information consultants? If so, pay them promptly, just as you would expect a client to pay you. Are any of your clients late paying you? Give them a call after 30 days to check on the status of your payment. Have you sent out invoices for the work you've completed? Have you paid for your magazine and newsletter subscriptions? Have you tracked all this information so you can pay the required quarterly income tax installments? If not, you have some work to do.

Check your schedule to make sure you know what your workload is going to be like in the next month or two. Too much or too little work can be equally damaging to your business. To avoid financially devastating down time, you need to make time to find work even when you're in the middle of a project. Make sure you set aside time for this no matter how busy you are, especially when you're starting out.

12:00 p.m. Lunch?
OK, go ahead and raid the refrigerator. You may want to take this opportunity to review the status of projects you'll be tearing into after lunch or to read the industry magazines and newsletters you subscribe to. You'll have to make time for these tasks at some point during the day, so you might as well do your reading and eating in the kitchen to keep the crumbs out of your keyboard.

1:00 p.m. Start Searching!
Finding information is your business. Spend the next two hours online, whether it's on the internet or one of the commercial online databases. You'll become more proficient at deciding which one to use as time goes on. You'll also realize that much earlier when you've spent too much time on a wild goose chase. Sometimes you can gain more information from making a single phone call than from spending hours online. Make a list of calls to make tomorrow.

3:00 p.m. Errands
Do you need to go to the post office to mail out invoices and/or contracts? Are there any urgent packages that need to be sent FedEx? Do you have blank cassettes for interviews? Ink and paper for your printer? Make a quick run out to take care of these tasks.

3:30 p.m. Search Some More
After getting out for a little fresh air on your way to the post office, etc., your eyes will be a little less bleary than they were when you left. Back to work! Find that information!

5:00 p.m. Organize
Spend the next half-hour backing up any work you've done using your method of choice. If you wake up in the morning to find that your computer won't start, at least you'll have the data in some form (like on disk or tape). Now spend some time organizing the piles of printed material you've generated during the course of the day.

5:30 p.m. Miller Time!
Time to sit back and sip your brew of choice? Maybe, but not necessarily. There are a number of things we haven't fit into our day:

  • Phone calls can come in at any time, delaying your other daily activities.
  • Meetings with clients can easily eat up half a day.
  • Trips to the library can set you back a few hours but are sometimes necessary.
  • Quarterly taxes will take a day out of your schedule four times a year.
  • Emergency rush jobs may come up. (These often pay well, but don't let them ruin jobs you're doing for other clients.)
  • Marketing, in whatever form you choose (mailings, maintaining a web page, and so on), must be attended to.
  • Making yourself more visible by writing articles or speaking at conferences can take up considerable time.
  • The information you've gathered for your clients has to be formatted into a readable report.

All this, of course, is assuming you're working full time as an information consultant. It's possible to get started in this profession working part time or even just evenings (though it can make contacting clients a little tricky). You can also partner up with someone who has complementary skills or subcontract work to other information consultants. But as a full-time information consultant, the key is to keep all the balls in the air at once.

Income & Billing

There's really no set pricing for information consultants. Figuring out what to charge is something you'll get a feel for with time, but even then you'll occasionally underbid a job and have to work your butt off for less than your services are worth or overbid a job and not get it at all. As you gain more experience, you'll eventually reach a point where these situations will occur less frequently.

Joining an organization like the AIIP can be a tremendous help in figuring out how much your work is worth because becoming a member gives you access to consultants who have years of experience. Depending on your skills as a researcher and your knowledge of the field you'll be serving, you may decide to work as a subcontractor while you get a feel for how much to charge. That disclaimer aside, we'll hazard some estimates of what the pay is like by profiling information consultants at different skill levels:

  • $25 to 30 per hour. You're just starting out and haven't worked in an information-gathering field before. You're either working part time while you hold on to your day job or you have some other means of financial support. You've picked up some of the research skills you need by taking classes, or you're using skills you have from previous jobs. You feel comfortable searching for information on the Web but aren't an expert. You're primarily looking for subcontracting jobs where you're doing work for someone who's already established in the field.
  • $50 per hour. You've become an expert at conducting web searches and are comfortable but not yet an expert at finding information using online databases. You've proven yourself by subcontracting work from others and are beginning to get work on your own. If you were doing information consulting part time, you're now getting enough work to quit your day job. This pay rate is also the starting point for consultants who have worked as librarians or researchers but are just beginning to work independently.
  • $75 per hour. You're now getting enough work on your own that you are doing little or no subcontracting unless it's because you are being hired by other consultants for your knowledge in a specific field--and then only accepting projects when you can make close to your standard pay rate. You're comfortable with Web searching, database searching and telephone interviews, or you know your own skills well enough to begin subcontracting work outside your area of expertise to others. You haven't had to seek out work in six months to a year, and you have more than one regular client.
  • $100 per hour. Besides the skills you had at the previous pay level, you are becoming well-known as an expert in the industry you serve. You're probably being asked to speak at conventions and write articles for magazines. You have enough work to confidently subcontract certain tasks to others--mostly because you've worked with enough subcontractors to know whom to trust.
  • $150 and up. You're an expert in the field you serve as well as an expert in information consulting. You're being asked to not only find information for clients, but to consult with them to help them figure out what questions they need answers to and why. You're a frequent speaker at conventions, contributor to magazines, or author of books, either about the subject you specialize in or about information consulting itself. You may be training others or giving seminars about the skills you've gained as an information consultant. You probably analyze the data you gather for your clients and may even go on site to present the information.

All of the hourly rates we've listed are estimates and can be affected by many factors. Maybe you were already working as a researcher for a large corporation and left your job while continuing to serve that corporation as an independent consultant. Or maybe you're already an expert in a particular field and will be looking for clients among people who already have a lot of respect for your skills. Perhaps you were a librarian. Any of these factors will increase the amount you should be charging for your services. The amount you earn will be affected not only by your skills, but also by what the market will bear in the field you serve.

Billing

Here's the fun part--payday. You can bill the client immediately after the work is completed to their satisfaction. Be sure to charge for online database access, long distance phone calls on the client's behalf, and your hourly or flat rate. Your monthly ISP charge is counted as one of your business expenses because you also use it for e-mail and personal web access. Putting a note on the invoice that says the payment is due in a specific number of days gives you a set time after which to call the client if you haven't received your payment.

Other scenarios will require you to make financial arrangements with the client before starting the job. For example, if a job is going to continue for an extended period of time, you may want to make arrangements to send the client an invoice once a month. Some information consultants also work on a retainer fee just like lawyers. They're paid once a month to be available to the client for a specified maximum number of hours, whether or not they actually do any work. In this case, you may not even need to send an invoice, depending on your agreement or contract.

Expected Annual Income

An information consultant in the $50-per-hour range can make about $40,000 a year. The top salaries will be earned by those who are considered experts in their information fields--those who write articles, speak at conferences and consult. These experts bring in $100,000 a year or more, depending on the length of time they've they've worked as information consultants and the size of their client base.

One more thing to keep in mind before multiplying your hourly rate by 40 hours a week is that a lot of the work you do, including bookkeeping, studying, attending conferences and looking for work, is stuff you don't get paid for--and that's pretty time-consuming, to boot. Being an information consultant takes a lot of work. The work is rewarding and pays well, but it's definitely not for those looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

Marketing

How do you let potential clients know that you exist? Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising. If you're an independent information consultant, it's quite possible that you walked away from your previous place of work with a potential client--maybe even your former employer if you played your cards right. However, even if you come out of the chute with one or two clients, it's unlikely that they'll bring in enough work for you to rest on your laurels and wait for them to call every week. You need exposure.

Before you get started, you'll need to do a little bit of work. Figure out what industry would be most interested in your services. Next, compile a list of companies in that field, along with contact information for the person in each company who is most likely to need your services. If you're a legal researcher, you'll need a list of law firms and contacts. If you're a high-tech researcher, you'll need a list of software and hardware companies.

Because there are so many fields in which information consultants provide services, you're pretty much on your own in finding an initial list of potential clients. Do some research. Leaf through magazines. Click around on the web. Even flip through the Yellow Pages if you think that's where the information lies. Still no list of clients? Not to worry. The following marketing ideas should help you find those first clients.

It's in the Cards

Ah, the lowly business card. It's an often overlooked but extremely effective marketing tool. It's also just about the cheapest form of marketing you can do. Having a professional-looking business card makes your business look like it means business. Keep your card simple. Be sure to include your phone and fax numbers, e-mail address and website address (if you have one). If you work out of your apartment, you might consider using "Suite 340" instead of "Apt. 340." Most information consultants will tell you that a homebased business usually appears less legitimate to clients than a business run out of a suite in an office building. It's all about perception.

Keeping professionalism in mind, you may also want to invest in things like letterhead stationery and envelopes. While these kinds of printed products may seem like they fall into the category of office supplies, they're really marketing tools. You're trying to sell your services, so you need to live, eat and breathe professionalism. Even when you're talking to potential clients on the phone or meeting with them for lunch, you're marketing your business.

Snail Mail Potential

There are all sorts of nifty promotional pieces you can mail to potential clients, from simple sales letters to brochures. First off, you'll need to know what companies to mail them to. Getting information about companies in your field of expertise and finding out to whom exactly you should send printed materials is an excellent exercise to sharpen your research skills before you actually go into business. Search the web. Buy magazines. Go to libraries. Do everything you can to find out who and where your clients are. Got your list? OK, now let's take a look at what you can send potential clients.

  • Sales letters. Letters describing your services and your background are great, especially if you have other information to include with the letter, such as magazine articles you've written on a subject pertinent to the client (more on writing magazine articles later). Keep the letter brief and to the point, and be sure to make it clear that you're an independent contractor. Make the letter as businesslike as possible and be sure to have a resume ready if asked.
  • Press releases. Everyone likes to keep up to date with his or her profession. So another effective way to get noticed is to send out press releases. You can't use information that you supply to clients in your press releases, but in the downtime between jobs or in the months before you start your business, you can do your own research and perhaps come up with key information and conclusions about the market you intend to serve.

You'll want to send press releases not only to potential clients, but also to magazines that are related to your area of expertise. You should send press releases out on a regular basis--maybe once a month--at least until your business is prospering. Be careful not to give away all your findings at once.

Does It Pay to Advertise?

If you're thinking about placing a print ad in a magazine that targets the same field as your information consulting business, take the time to do some research to make sure you're advertising in the right place. If you're hoping to have computer software companies as clients, find a magazine that addresses them specifically. But be careful here. If you want computer software companies as your clients, it won't do you much good to place an ad in a magazine for software consumers. Likewise, if your targeted clients are pharmaceutical companies, it probably won't be in your best interest to advertise in publications for pharmacists.

If you decide that a particular magazine is an appropriate place for you to buy print advertising space, look to see whether the publication has a "marketplace" section. That's the section in the back of the magazine where companies place one-eighth--or one-ninth-page black-and-white ads--in other words, the inexpensive section. Ad space in this section is often very reasonably priced at $100 to $400, depending on the circulation of the magazine. Add in another $250 or so to have a designer create a little text-only, black-and-white advertisement. Keep the ad simple and to the point.

You'll have to test the ad to see if it works for the market you're targeting. Try it out for a month or two and see what happens. Every field is different, so don't sign a contract to run your ad for a year at a reduced monthly rate until you see some results. Even the smallest market that is profitable for a publishing company to serve (around 15,000) adds up to a lot of eyeballs that may see your ad and need your services. So keep in mind that, unless you see tremendous results from advertising, a small black-and-white ad will be just fine.

The World Wide Web: Your Own Private Infomercial

Just about everyone has a website these days. A website can be a valuable marketing tool for information consultants who have enough information about their business and capabilities to fill a computer screen. Since most ISPs give you a limited amount of space for a website, it makes sense to use this space to advertise your business. Remember that your website doesn't need to be complicated. You can hire someone to put together a bare-bones, information-only site for around $500 to $1,000.

Seizing the Limelight

Your goal in all these marketing endeavors is to be an expert in your field of choice, someone who can not only gather information but also make sense of it. In this vein, there are two major steps you can take to show that your skills are up to par: writing magazine articles and books and speaking at conferences. If neither of these things is in your repertoire, that's OK. It's tough to get in front of people at a conference assuming that you know more about a subject than they do. However, even if you don't feel up to the title of "expert," you're not completely cut out of the limelight. Most conventions have panel sessions in which people in the industry you serve discuss situations they've encountered, and the audience gets to ask questions. You don't need to have an expert opinion to be the moderator (read: referee) of a panel discussion; you just need to know enough about the subject to keep the discussion flowing.

There are also alternatives to writing full-fledged articles for publications that serve your industry. Many magazines publish annual buyer's guides that list products that are available to a particular industry. You should be subscribing to these magazines anyway, so why not offer your services to them as an information consultant? If you do a good job, you may be offered other opportunities to contribute to the magazine as a researcher or a writer. However, if you decide to write for magazines, keep in mind that most trade publications don't pay very well. You accept assignments from them based on the fact that they're giving you a byline and exposure to thousands of readers, essentially a free advertisement for your services.

Resources

Associations

Books

Magazines and Other Periodicals

Mentor Programs and Seminars

 

Source: This article was published entrepreneur.com

Categorized in How to

Facebook has just launched its new search tool called “Graph Search”. It’s the social networking site’s biggest foray into online search. Most analysts said that the new social search is not strong enough to challenge Google as the world’s dominant search engine, but it will certainly take away quite a sizeable search share from Google especially on the local information.

Apart from social search, Facebook has collaborated with Microsoft’s Bing to provide web search results. In return, Bing also includes certain Facebook results into their search results. However, when it comes to social search, your choices are not limited to Google, Facebook and Bing only. There are other powerful social network search engines out there helping you to find social profile of people, company, group and brand, as well as user-generated content such as comments, bookmarks, videos, and news.

The social media search tools find information from multiple social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn at the same time. It saves you lots of efforts and time as you don’t have to search each social media site individually. Without further ado, here are our 22 best social network search engines you must check out.

Searching Numbers of Social Network Sites at the Same Time

Social Mention
Google is the most popular search engine that people use to find almost everything on the Web. However when it comes to social network, you should give Social Mention a try. It’s a search engine specifically designed for people to find social media contents including blogs, microblogs, comments, bookmarks, videos and many more. Social Mention also features auto-alerts allowing you to receive daily email based on your searches such as brand, celebrity, company, etc. If you are blogger, consider to install its real-time buzz widget on your site.

Social Searcher

social-searcher-free-social-search-engine

Social Searcher is another social network search tool which allows you to search trending links from Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Through this real-time online service, you can monitor your brands, find live stream links, find interesting content, and many more.

WhosTalkin
WhosTalkin enables you to search through a number of social media sites and blogs for trending topics and conversations about celebrity, sports, food, places, video, etc.

YoName
YoName allows you to search people across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger blogs and many more. All you need to do is enter people name, email address or phone number, then hit “Yo” button to see the results. Apart from people search, YoName also supports Web search, business search as well as public records search.

Anoox
Anoox is social networking based search engine. It enables you to find information through multiple social media websites or ask questions to the real people.

Searching Facebook

facebook_graph_search

Facebook Graph Search
With the latest Facebook search tool, you can discover connections between people, places and things, based on your friends, activities, interests and status updates.

Booshaka
Booshaka searches and ranks the most passionate people, group and communities on Facebook. It lets you understand who your engaged fans are, and help you reach more people.

Searching Twitter

Twitter Advanced Search
With Twitter Advanced Search, you can search based on people, words, and places. On the displayed results, you can instantly connect and follow any celebrity, experts, brands and news.

Keyhole.co
Keyhole.co allows you to find popular, useful and interesting content published on Twitter, blogs and news sites. You can search everything or filter the results based on tweets, links, photos, videos, experts, or trending.

Search Engines’ Social Search Tools

best-people-social-search-engine

Google Inside Search
When signed in with Google Plus, you will be able to find both personal results and social results about you and your friend’s photos, posts, video and other content.

Bing Social
With Bing Social, you can find the latest news and trending topics from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

Searching Photos

Flickr Advanced Search
Flickr is one of the largest photo and video sharing sites. It provides users advanced search tool with many filters and options helping you find image or video you want easily.

Searching Videos

Blinkx
Blinkx is video search engine with millions hours of indexed online videos. It lets you watch a wide variety of videos including news & politics, celebrity, technology, business, gaming, food, sports, and more, taken from famous news sites and video sharing sites.

Searching Blog Posts and Forum

Technorati
A famous blog posts search engine that lets you search weblogs based on keyword and tag.

Boardreader
This is an online search tool for forums and boards. Through the search engine, you can find popular content on the Internet including videos, news, press releases, articles, etc.

Other Social Search Tools

Addictomatic
Another site to search the latest news, trending topics, interesting blog posts, viral videos, and funny photos.

Twazzup
Another real-time online tool for you to find out trending news and topics across multiple social media and news sites.

Joongel
Joongel is a comprehensive vertical search service that lets you find information in different categories, from social media to gossip.

Folowen
Folowen is another search engine that let you search both people and organization’s profile across multiple social media sites. It lets you follow the social profile of any people, group, brand and company easily.

Snitch Name
This is a white pages service for social networks. It enables you to search people’s profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace and other social media sites.

Source: This article was published quertime.com

Categorized in Search Engine

A New Internet

From the birth of language to the dawn of the Internet, the technologies that push humanity forward allow us to collaborate at new scales. We agree on a common purpose, and work together in groups of increasing size and power.

Today, with so many of us connected online, the goal of 3.5 billion people frictionlessly sharing knowledge and collaborating is, in theory, an achievable one.

So why hasn’t the Internet united us? Why is our trust in institutions — government, media, and business — eroding? Why is it so hard for us to make compromises to achieve the ends we desire?

There are, of course, many answers, but here’s a simple one: the Internet is broken.

Information

The Internet democratized access to information in a way previously the realm of science fiction. Texts, videos, and ideas became widely available, and transmittable, and our ability to communicate with each other, organize groups, and choreograph our activities, exploded.

But just when it seemed like the world had opened up, we identified a new type of information, more valuable than any before, and stashed a lot of it away in private vaults. The Internet allowed us to generate, strategically collect, and deploy, rich data about people, programs, companies, markets, and societies. A small, exclusive group of users siphoned this data off, to store in guarded silos and leverage for private gain.


 

In the end, our minds and their ability to create new ideas are the ultimate source of all human wealth. That’s a resource nearly without limit. — Ramez Naam


To resist the privatization of data, the open source community has existed as long as computing, beginning with cypherpunks and basement hackers. Their movement produced Linux, Wikipedia, and countless more platforms, tools, and projects that succeeded. But it lost the battle for control of the Web 1.0 and 2.0. The winners were personal data collectors, repackagers, and vendors like Facebook and Google.

 

Finally, though, the tide is turning. Today we have a chance at a new Internet, enabled by decentralizing technologies such as Ethereum, the world computer. Big players are recognizing the benefits of open source, and exploring the community-driven business models they bring. Creators and developers can take power again if we come together in time. We can build a new Internet that puts us, the users, first.

Value

There’s an uncomfortable tension online today. Contributors of songs, ideas, art, code, and stories want to enrich the public sphere, but they need to sustain themselves and get paid for their work. That work adds enormous value to our lives, makes them vibrant, and sometimes even saves them.

The problem is that the way we exchange money captures value in only two dimensions. In truth, value is being created everywhere. Let your eyes linger on an ad in the subway, and value has been created. Tweet a popular hashtag. Turn on the lights. Sign in using Facebook. Report traffic on Waze. Tell someone your secret.


 

In the twenty-first century, our personal data is probably the most valuable resource most humans still have to offer, and we are giving it to the tech giants in exchange for email services and funny cat videos.— Yuval Harari


There is a shift coming in the way we use the Internet, from an Internet of information to an Internet of value, where we frictionlessly exchange and communicate with no intermediaries.

 

In this new world, our value is something we carry around with us, that belongs to us and us alone (unless we opt to trade it). Value is captured in as many dimensions as reality. The representation of value that exists on the virtual plane becomes so rich with data that virtual becomes flush with real.

Trust

Without trust, there is no love. — Myth of Eros and Psyche

Why don’t we trust each other? Maybe we did when we lived in tribes. In a small group, it’s possible to remember everyone from birth and the characteristics that make up their identities. There’s no, “She’s warm-hearted.” “He exaggerates.” “She prefers to sleep all day.”

Today, we empower institutions to guard the trust. We pay them royally for that service, because without trust, there is no business deal, no stamp on a passport, no line of credit, and no peace treaty.

But what happens when we create universal identity — a common and accepted baseline of trust, that exists without need for authority? What if we build a system that is inherently logical, programmable, and safe? What if everyone could share it, access it, and help grow it, all at the exact same time?

Join Us

“Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.” — Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral & The Bazaar

There is a new Internet coming, and with it, a new reality.

The architects of the future are already building these systems. But those systems are open source, which means if you help build them, they will be even better and stronger. Join some of the world’s most innovative technologists, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians at Ethereal Summit on May 19th in Brooklyn.

We can use technology to make the world better.

Source: This article was published futurism.com By ConsenSys

Categorized in Science & Tech

Should you Google your medical symptoms? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Keck Medicine of USC, 500+ internationally renowned doctors at a leading academic medical center, on Quora:

Read this Before You Turn to Dr. Google. House calls are back and they are only a click away; but could overindulging in access to health information actually be hurting us?

When you’re not feeling well, it’s natural to want to find out what’s wrong. And the idea of doing so from the comfort of your own home without the hassle of a doctor’s visit is appealing. So appealing, in fact, a survey by Pew Research Center found that more than thirty-five percent of Americans had gone online to self-diagnose their symptoms. (Topping the list are pregnancy symptoms, flu symptoms and diabetes symptoms.) Sounds harmless, right? Actually, no.

If you tend to search online when you’re not feeling well, make sure you are following these steps:

1. Use trusted sites

You can’t trust everything you see on the Internet – from photoshopped images to opinions disguised as news. Unfortunately, there’s even more bad health information. Stick to searching on reputable websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Be especially wary of sites that are selling supplements, foods or anything health-related that sounds too good to be true. (Spoiler: It is!)

2. Don’t read only one diagnosis.

A study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that the correct diagnosis was only returned as the top search result thirty-four percent of the time on twenty-three sites that are self-billed “symptom-checkers”. It is better to read a handful of results: half the sites had the right diagnosis in the top three and nearly sixty percent had it in the top twenty.

3. Talk to a doctor about your suspected diagnosis.

No matter what you find, it’s important to have you doctor confirm your diagnosis. The Pew survey found that thirty-five percent of respondents did not get a second opinion, but of those that did, only forty-one percent had their suspicions confirmed by a medical professional.

4. Don’t stress out about your possible imagined health condition.

If you’re the type of person who gets easily stressed by uncertainty, you should be especially cautious of googling your symptoms, cautions one study. You may have a condition dubbed “cyberchondria”, the online version of hypochondria, where you think every symptom applies to you. For example, mistaking a simple tension headache for a brain tumor, for example. This can cause you to worry unnecessarily, visit the doctor more than necessary and demand too many tests or even medications you don’t really need.

While search engines can empower us with information, online research is no substitute for a physician’s diagnosis. If you believe something is wrong, reach out to your primary care physician for help. Not only can you count on their diagnosis, but can immediately receive steps for treatment.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. More questions:

Source : forbes.com

Categorized in Search Engine

SAN FRANCISCO _ Google wants to make it easier for you to find answers and recommendations on smartphones without having to think about what to ask its search engine.

Its new feature, called "shortcuts ," will appear as a row of icons below the Google search box. Instead of having to ponder and then speak or type a request, the shortcuts will let you tap the icons to get the latest weather, movie showtimes, sports scores, restaurant recommendations and other common requests.

Google_opens_shortcuts_to_information_tools_on_phones.jpg

The shortcuts will begin appearing Tuesday in updates to Google's app for iPhones, Android phones and its mobile website. The Android app will also include various tools such as a currency converter, a language translator and an ATM locator, which you can also summon with a tap. Those tools may eventually make it to the iPhone as well, although Google says it doesn't know when.

YOUR BACKUP BRAIN

The changes are the latest step in Google's quest to turn its search engine into a secondary brain that anticipates people's needs and desires. The search engine gleans these insights by analyzing your past requests and, when you allow it, tracking your location, a practice that periodically raises privacy concerns about Google's power to create digital profiles of its users.

Based on the knowledge that Google already has accumulated, its shortcuts feature may already list your favorite sports teams or recommend nearby restaurants serving cuisines you prefer.

Shortcuts also show how Google's search engine has been adapting to its audience, now that smartphones have become the primary way millions of people stay connected to the internet.

GOING MOBILE

Since more than half of requests for Google's search engine now come from smartphones, the Mountain View, California, company has adapted its services to smaller screens, touch keyboards and apps instead of websites.

Early in that process, Google tweaked its search engine to answer many requests with factual summaries at the top of its results page, a change from simply displaying a list of links to other websites. Voice-recognition technology also allows you to speak your request into a phone instead of typing it.

The transition is going well so far. Google's revenue rose 20 percent last year to $89 billion, propelled by digital ads served up on its search engine, YouTube and Gmail. Although shortcuts won't initially show ads after you tap them, Google typically sells marketing space if a feature or service becomes popular.

Author : MICHAEL LIEDTKEAP 
Categorized in Search Engine
Education scholars say youth are duped by sponsored content and don't always recognize political bias of social messages.

When it comes to evaluating information that flows across social channels or pops up in a Google search, young and otherwise digital-savvy students can easily be duped, finds a new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The report, released this week by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from.

"Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there," said Professor Sam Wineburg, the lead author of the report and founder of SHEG. "Our work shows the opposite to be true."

The researchers began their work in January 2015, well before the most recent debates over fake news and its influence on the presidential election.

The scholars tackled the question of “civic online reasoning” because there were few ways to assess how students evaluate online information and to identify approaches to teach the skills necessary to distinguish credible sources from unreliable ones.

The authors worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.

“Many of the materials on web credibility were state-of-the-art in 1999. So much has changed but many schools are stuck in the past,” said Joel Breakstone, the director of SHEG, which has designed social studies curriculum that teaches students how to evaluate primary sources. That curriculum has been downloaded 3.5 million times, and is used by several school districts.

The new report covered news literacy, as well as students' ability to judge Facebook and Twitter feeds, comments left in readers' forums on news sites, blog posts, photographs and other digital messages that shape public opinion.

The assessments reflected key understandings the students should possess such as being able to find out who wrote a story and whether that source is credible. The authors drew on the expertise of teachers, university researchers, librarians and news experts to come up with 15 age-appropriate tests -- five each for middle school, high school and college levels.

"In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students' lack of preparation," the authors wrote.

In middle school they tested basic skills, such as the trustworthiness of different tweets or articles.

One assessment required middle schoolers to explain why they might not trust an article on financial planning that was written by a bank executive and sponsored by a bank. The researchers found that many students did not cite authorship or article sponsorship as key reasons for not believing the article.

Another assessment had middle school students look at the homepage of Slate. They were asked to identify certain bits of content as either news stories or advertisements. The students were able to identify a traditional ad -- one with a coupon code -- from a news story pretty easily. But of the 203 students surveyed, more than 80 percent believed a native ad, identified with the words "sponsored content," was a real news story.

At the high school level, one assessment tested whether students were familiar with key social media conventions, including the blue checkmark that indicates an account was verified as legitimate by Twitter and Facebook.

Students were asked to evaluate two Facebook posts announcing Donald Trump's candidacy for president. One was from the verified Fox News account and the other was from an account that looked like Fox News. Only a quarter of the students recognized and explained the significance of the blue checkmark. And over 30 percent of students argued that the fake account was more trustworthy because of some key graphic elements that it included.

"This finding indicates that students may focus more on the content of social media posts than on their sources," the authors wrote. "Despite their fluency with social media, many students are unaware of basic conventions for indicating verified digital information."

The assessments at the college level focused on more complex reasoning. Researchers required students to evaluate information they received from Google searches, contending that open Internet searches turn up contradictory results that routinely mix fact with falsehood.

For one task, students had to determine whether Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in state-sponsored euthanasia. A typical Google search shows dozens of websites addressing the topic from opposite angles.

"Making sense of search results is even more challenging with politically charged topics," the researchers said. "A digitally literate student has the knowledge and skill to wade through mixed results to find reliable and accurate information."

In another assessment, college students had to evaluate website credibility. The researchers found that high production values, links to reputable news organizations and polished “About” pages had the ability to sway students into believing without very much skepticism the contents of the site.

The assessments were administered to students across 12 states. In total, the researchers collected and analyzed 7,804 student responses. Field-testing included under-resourced schools in Los Angeles and well-resourced schools in the Minneapolis suburbs. College assessments were administered at six different universities.

Wineburg says the next steps to this research include helping educators use these tasks to track student understanding and to adjust instruction. He also envisions developing curriculum for teachers, and the Stanford History Education Group has already begun to pilot lesson plans in local high schools. Finally, the researchers hope to produce videos showing the depth of the problem and demonstrating the link between digital literacy and informed citizenship.

“As recent headlines demonstrate, this work is more important now than ever,” Wineburg said. “In the coming months, we look forward to sharing our assessments and working with educators to create materials that will help young people navigate the sea of disinformation they encounter online.”

The research was funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Besides Breakstone and Wineburg, co-authors included Stanford researchers Sarah McGrew and Teresa Ortega.

An executive summary of the report is available here.

Source : https://ed.stanford.edu

Categorized in Online Research

I tried to give you my best advice in the title of this article and if you are reading this, you chose not to take it. So please reconsider.

If you are having some strong dis-ease following the Presidential Election in the USA, you might want to think some more about what I am suggesting. Don’t read another article about the Election. For that matter don’t listen or watch anything related to the Election either. For goodness sake don’t write anything about the Election at all. That suggestion should be the easiest for you to follow, because I am writing this for you.

Now as to your dose of not consuming or producing any Election thoughts, that varies by weight of your post-election emotional burden. Some of you might want to wait about a decade before taking a peek at what happened next. For most that won’t be necessary.

News and views that you can’t use, can give you the blues.

We are built to detect threats, act quickly to reduce them and to save energy by calmly accepting some risk and discomfort related to there being nothing we can do about somethings at the moment.

Being exposed to more and more news and what could or should be done about this or that can make one quite jittery, particularly if most of it doesn’t give you a clue as to what you can specifically do. Viewing the news and checking out new views can trigger, “should I prepare to fight, prepare to run, prepare to hide and breathe softly and deeply?” If the news does not contain much direction regarding your particular situation, you may just freeze and seek further news and views. Things can get increasingly chilly.

If you are following news on the political climate like some people follow weather reports and forecasts you might want to stop that. The weather can indeed hit people where they live. Forecasts can inform as when to run or hide or seek higher ground, but usually not. Some people have a friend or family that live some place that a weather forecast has under a rotating cloud, but these people probably don’t need to be warned about that. Having nobody that is near the forest fire or in the hot lava’s path doesn’t stop some people from being good citizens of the world by feeling a duty to keep current about the state of such affairs, but they do so at an emotional cost that often goes unnoticed. When the report comes on about the earthquake, even if you calculate that you are thousands of miles from the epicenter quickly, your brain still spent some milliseconds sensing if your foundation was shaking.

Like weather reports, political news can rile you up with no need or no place to go.

For instance if you see yourself in some oppressed class that Donald Trump is reportedly not fond of, you may feel a need to stay informed as to Mr. Trump’s plans. If you have heard of Wikileaks and aren’t sure that all the information provided there was made up by the Russians, you might be bracing yourself for what will be revealed upon the release of the next batch of leaks, not having close to processing the thousands and thousands of leaks already revealed.

Wanting more and more news and opinions can even rewire your brain which makes it much more difficult to process information and more difficult to see big pictures. Some of these big pictures are obvious and obviously important and go completely unseen due to news and views distraction.

News that you can and want to use can get lost in the Breaking News.

Overwhelming people with news is consciously used tool of propagandists. New news doesn’t just sell advertising and the goods and services advertised, it draws attention away from unsolved problems to the delight of those profiting from these problems.

You may think that giving yourself a news blackout or constriction as being unpatriotic or not what a social justice warrior does. Think again. There can be great value in contemplating what you already know or what you already think that you know. Compare what you’ve heard with your personal experience. Question the sources of information you believe and ask yourself how you would judge information from a source you don’t trust, if you did trust that source.

Resist seeking news to avoid your friends knowing something that you haven’t heard yet. Your friends will probably like you better for giving them the opportunity to be the ones to let you know the latest, then they will think of you as a moron for not knowing.

Notice if you have a tendency to get interested in collecting more an more news that supports your views and delight in being more and more and more convinced that you are right and the wise guy where you work is wrong. Maybe you have collected enough ammunition for awhile.

If seeking more news is making you feel more relaxed about accepting things that you have no immediate plans to do much about, keep seeking. If seeking news is energizing you to bond closer with friends and family, or is energizing to do something to express what you have come to believe in, keep seeking. If you believe strongly in something that you have been recently questioning, make seeking that a priority.

If you are finding that your post-election news seeking has eroded some of your seeking of sports score, fashion trends, pictures of what your friends had for dinner last night, the latest hilarious videos that have gone viral, what the humidity might be tomorrow, that might be a good thing.

Source:  goodmenproject.com

Categorized in News & Politics
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