The Internet has rapidly become the most important infrastructure in the world. We are now, however, rapidly witnessing how it is becoming the infrastructure of all other infrastructures as well.

Industry 4.0 has become a catch-all word for much of the debate about the future of our economies. From Davos to Hanover, the phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is being used to describe this change.

Over the last two years I chaired the Global Commission on Internet Governance. As we worked — meeting in Stockholm, Seoul, Ottawa, London, The Hague, Bangalore, Accra, Palm Springs and Amman — it become clear to me that this is an incomplete way of describing the transformation we are beginning to see.

While it could be the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, future historians are more likely to describe it as the transition from the industrial to the digital era in the evolution of human society.

The Commission was set up as a broad-based, independent initiative to address the many Internet governance issues that this transition will generate. The more we understood the enormous potential benefits of this transformation to our societies, the more we became concerned by the many challenges that threatened its success.

The benefits are obvious. Developing countries can leap-frog into a new generation of technologies, opening up new possibilities for economic and social development. The World Bank estimates that a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration raises GDP by more than 1 per cent. A new wave of entrepreneurship is sweeping over Africa and Asia as the smartphone becomes more and more readily available.

There is certainly still a significant digital divide — but with the rapid development we are now witnessing, that divide will become more generational than geographic, and it will affect all of our societies. The generations that knew fax machines will have difficulties understanding the Snapchat generation, and vice versa.

Technology rapidly increases online accessibility. If present trends continue, 90 per cent of the global population is likely to be covered by mobile broadband networks with similar or better capacity than we have in most of Europe today — in a little more than five years.

And that’s when the real revolution will start. 5G mobile networks with a capacity perhaps 100 times better than today’s will usher us into the era of the Internet of Things. Everything could be connected to, and potentially interact with, everything else.

Two major challenges immediately arise.

The first concerns trust. Can we as citizens trust that big government and big corporations don’t misuse the data and information that, one way or another, they are collecting about us? Is there a risk of a cyber “2084” as we look ahead?

The other concern is around security. Conflict and war suddenly take on a cyber dimension that might easily spin out of control if clear norms for state behaviour are not established. With an Internet of Everything, there is suddenly also the risk of a militarisation of everything. In our everyday lives we become vastly more exposed and vulnerable to cybercrime in many ways that were, until recently, unimaginable.

We concluded it is imperative for everyone to take these issues far more seriously if trust in the Internet is to be preserved. Otherwise, the Internet’s promise will never come to fruition.

We have called for a new social compact to regulate the state use of surveillance on the net. There is no question that states have a responsibility to safeguard the rule of law in the digital domain. However, this role must be performed within clearly defined limits and with oversight perceived as robust and credible.

By the same token, encryption must remain a right not unduly undermined or put into question. We must understand that we safeguard our data not through where it is stored — in the digital world there are no real borders — but through how well we protect it wherever it happens to be.

Data will be the key resource of our future economies. Today there is more data generated every week than during the previous thousand years, and the use of this data will drive growing parts of the global economy. We have a strong interest in safeguarding the free flow of data across the global economy as we see digital value chains rapidly gaining importance.

Cyber hygiene must suffuse our entire economy, and it must start at home. Every unsafe device, and every unsafe use of a device, exposes both the user and other people to danger. In addition, industry must resist a tendency to rush new software to market in the belief that it can be patched further down the line. No one has the right to sell insecurity.

The governance of the Internet is today a biosphere of organisations and institutions bringing together all who have a stake in the system. Although questioned by those keen to see U.S. conspiracies everywhere, this multi-stakeholder web of governance has served the world extraordinarily well so far.

Nevertheless, when the U.S. government now gives up its last vestige of direct involvement in the governance of the Internet, it is an important step towards increasing the international legitimacy of the multi-stakeholder system.

Preserving the hallmarks of the multistakeholder model is key to its future dynamic development. We must not allow the governance of the Internet to be captured either by government or corporate interests. Everyone has a stake, and no one should have exclusive control.

This clashes with concepts like “Internet sovereignty”, launched primarily by China but supported by Russia and others. While a dialogue with China, a rapidly emerging cyberpower, is essential, and agreements on important issues should be sought, we should never forget the fundamental difference between open, democratic societies and others.

The final report of the Commission has now been presented in conjunction with the ministerial meeting of the 34 nations of the OECD in Cancun, Mexico earlier this week. It does not provide an answer to all the questions arising from these developments, but it is a call to everyone to put them at the very centre of policy discussions and policy making in the years ahead. It provides a roadmap for the future of the Internet.

The digital age is rapidly emerging. It will, over time, transform our economies and societies in ways beyond our comprehension. But we must act now to address the challenges in order to benefit from its massive potential. Our Commission report is a call to action.

Source:  https://ipolitics.ca/2016/06/26/an-internet-for-everyone/

Categorized in Internet Technology

I will never forget the first time I logged onto the Internet.

I was in 4th grade. My dad sat me down in front of his brand new see-through blue iMac G3 and clicked on a tiny AOL icon. A screen appeared asking for a login and password.

"I made you an e-mail address," he said while my eyes scanned the screen. I had already explored the worlds of Pokémon on my Gameboy and Mortal Kombat on Nintendo64, but this seemed like something so much more.

"What's my e-mail address?" I asked, my hands already reaching for the keyboard.

"This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.," he said. My nickname in hockey was "magnet" because I was incapable of playing my designated role on the ice. I went where the puck went, like a magnet.

From that fateful day onward, I have been a child of the Internet. This is where I was raised.

I laughed hysterically at videos on eBaum's World like "Here Is The Earth." I listened in awe as kids in my 5th grade class proclaimed they had found web sites with topless women. I spent hours reading forums with video game hacks and secret codes. I never once went to the library for a research project, instead always reverting to Google. I would sneak downstairs to the computer in the middle of the night and practically have a heart attack when AOL would start back up, the volume of the computer maxed out, sending a screeching sound all throughout my house as I connected to the Internet.

I learned how to read on the Internet. I learned how to write on the Internet. I learned how to sell things on the Internet. I learned how to forge meaningful relationships (through the World of Warcraft and chat programs like AIM) on the Internet. I watched everyday people rise to fame on the Internet. I was exposed to art I never would have seen, information I never would have learned, stories I never would have heard, people I never would have met, and ways of life I never would have considered--all because of the Internet.

And then I watched advertisements slowly clutter my favorite websites. I watched big brands buy up and take over. I watched the government step in and try to regulate our free world. And most of all, I watched this vast and distant world I considered to be a second reality slowly take over the primary.

I have watched this thing we call "The Internet" infiltrate real life, so much so that we no longer know the difference.

As someone who has, by every definition, truly "grown up on the Internet," I want to remind you of what's real and what's not. When I was 17 years old, I was e-famous through the World of Warcraft. I had more people reading my blog every single day than most professional New York Times columnists. I learned how to build a personal brand before I knew how to properly fill out a college application. And I also learned, at a very young age that on the Internet, perception is reality--and that can be both extremely powerful and extremely dangerous.

This is my open letter to "us Millennials," the demographic that has been labeled everything from lazy and over-privileged, to forward-thinking and naturally creative.

I want us to be aware of just how rare of time period we have been born into. We are the only generation that, quite literally, is the same age as the Internet. When the Internet was an infant, so were we. When the Internet hit adolescence, so did we. When the Internet went off to college, so did we. And when people started taking the Internet seriously, we graduated, stepped out into the real world, and suddenly people started taking us seriously, too.

The generation after us, they don't have this. The first toy their hands ever touched was an iPad. The generation before us didn't have this. To them, the Internet is still primarily a confusing place of which they have very little inherent knowledge. We are the only generation that has experienced life before the Internet ruled everything, but at the same time, can speak the language fluently.

That is a tremendous gift.

But I'll be honest, I think we've forgotten that.

When I log into Instagram, I see wannabe role models that I know personally, who don't have a clue what they want to do with their lives, preaching how to find "that one thing you love most in life." I open up Facebook and see people who are in no way masters of their craft selling courses on that craft. I see ad after ad of a guy standing in front of a Ferrari trying to tell me that a seven figure passive income is easily attainable in just 3 Easy Steps. I open Snapchat and watch gorgeous girls pout at the camera with this untouchable look in their eyes, and then I talk to these same girls in real life and hear them confess how insecure they are. I go to YouTube and watch guys talk about how they are shredded at seven percent body fat and "all natural," and then I go train with them they confess they just say that to market themselves.

All these things are besides the point.

What I want to talk about instead is how this distorted reality makes us feel.

And a lot of us feel like failures.

Twenty-three, 24, 25, 26 years old, a few years out of college, and the overwhelming question is, "Why aren't I a millionaire yet?" We look at what we see on the Internet and wonder why we don't have a camera crew following us around too. We wonder where our gold watches are, where our Ferrari is, when our vacation to Bali will come.

Here's what I want to say:

If you want that to be your reality, you can create it. That's the power of the Internet, and I'll be the first to advocate for that. If you want to be an influencer in your field, go partner up and collaborate with other influencers. If you want to be a thought leader, hang with the thought leaders. If you want to motivate people, go create motivational content. If you want to teach people, go create really cool stuff that teaches people.

But just like our relationship with the Internet, don't forget the life that exists outside the Internet. Don't forget that what you're portraying, you should also be living yourself.

It's our choice. We can either use the Internet and all its tools to actually create things of value, or we can fall into the dangerous trap of trying to create the perception of something that is in no way true. We have been given an invaluable opportunity here as Millennials. We are, like the Internet, old enough to be taken seriously, old enough to start companies and create movements, old enough to create true change.

But also, like the Internet, we are still comparatively young and reckless. We have just stepped out on our own in the world. We know what we know really well, while at the same time, we're not entirely aware yet of what it is we don't know.

This recklessness is what gives us the naive confidence to do great things, like create sustainable foods or find new sources of energy or invent social media platforms that connect people all over the world.

And it is also the very thing that can quickly cause us to spiral out of control.

So, to all my creatives, all my aspiring entrepreneurs, all my peers and those of us with the demographic title of "Millennial": I'd like to remind you that the author of this article, an Inc. columnist, a published writer, an editor-in-chief, is also a 25-year-old boy who just loves to write, and is writing this sitting at a coffee shop wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The air conditioning is turned on too high. My cup of coffee is empty. The girl next to me keeps coughing and I really hope she doesn't get me sick. The girl opposite me keeps making weird faces at her laptop, which makes me wonder what she's working on. The couple two tables away seem to be on a first date and are doing their best to conceal their nerves. The man who owns the coffee shop is British and listening to him talk to customers is amazing--"Aaaand what'llya be havin'?"

This is our reality.

My description and expression of it is extended into this article, shared on the Internet.

Let's all express ourselves.

But let's also not forget where that expression comes from.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/what-my-fellow-millennials-get-wrong-about-the-internet.html

Categorized in Online Research

Some facts are inconvenient.

Some, though, turn out to be more annoying than getting a pedicure from a large hirsute drunk in a Motorhead t-shirt spouting invective about sci-fi movies.This may be one of those.

You know those people at work who constantly network and send mountains of emails?

Yes, the sucky-uppy-I'm-so-ambitious-and-conscientious sorts.

They succeed. Quite often.

This sorrowful idea came to me originally from a tweet that read: "Work email can reveal a lot about employees. For example, people who send more messages are often higher performers."

And so it was that I gravitated to the words of Microsoft's director of research and strategy for organizational productivity analytics -- a job that anyone with a sense of humor would surely crave -- Chantrelle Nielsen.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, she offers a picture of success that some might find a touch disheartening.Apparently, the highest performers are often those who, indeed, flood your inbox with their egos. I mean, their extremely fine ideas and efficient approach to business.

Nielsen writes: "The highest performers had 36% larger 'strong ties' internal networks (ones that connect at least biweekly in small-group messages) than average performers, while the low performers had 6% smaller networks than average."if you're not already depressed, please prepare for worse.

"The size and strength of peoples' networks actually helped to predict year-over-year changes in performance better than managers could," Nielsen writes.

Well, managers at Microsoft have a reputation of emphasizing the micro and being a little soft on the actual judgment.Can it be, though, that (overly) keen online enthusiasm is a signpost to a successful career?

Prepare to sulk at the state of modern humanity, for Nielsen says: "Being intensely engaged in online collaboration seemed to independently drive employee performance."Nielsen says that this pattern has been observed in different types of businesses.

She even offers a sentence that immediately gave me a profound indigestion -- the sort that actually kept me from my sauvignon blanc.It goes like this: "Predictive sales performance models that used social graph data (in the form of the structure of peoples' networks) often showed that internal connections mattered even more than external connections did."

Can it be that the web and its Swiss Guard known as software have not merely permeated business life but actually dictated behavior within it? Can it be that those who play by the (digital) system are those who win?

It's easy to believe, isn't it?

Businesses are social structures that work on the basis of hierarchy (except at Zappos, of course), patronage and subjective, sometimes convoluted decision-making.Perhaps all those emails and that vast network are just simple ways to market yourself to those who might, just might, make a decision in your favor at some point.

Perhaps it's not unlike aspirant actors who do all they can to ensure that casting directors, producers and bar owners know who they are, where they are and what they're doing at all times.I wanted a bone, though. Not one of contention, merely one of hope.Nielsen tossed me one, as if she already knew that, with my paltry six friends and ten emails a day, I was only worth feeling sorry for.

"Given the same number of connections, some networks are more effective than others if they include highly influential people," she wrote.I can feel you wiping the sweat from your brow and the coffee from your chin.

It could, after all, be that just managing ever upwards in a suitably unctuous way will enhance your prospects, just as it always did.Thank goodness. It was as if the social order was being completely destroyed.

However, in a world in which vast amounts of data aren't only being created, but also being analyzed by people who bathe in, well, organizational productivity analytics, the way employees aren't only motivated, but judged will take on interesting hues.

Please excuse me. I must go. I must write an email to someone powerful and famous.I can only hope she replies.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/want-to-be-successful-research-says-you-should-write-more-emails.html

Categorized in Social

Sometimes, a little bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing.Everyone’s guilty of it. Have you ever had a harmless little headache? Then you’ve found yourself with smartphone in hand, searching your symptoms on Google, running down an endless online checklist?

The next thing you know, you’re absolutely petrified you have a brain tumour.Sound familiar? It’s more common than you think.

By giving us instant health information (ranging from medically sound to commercially manipulative to completely crackpot) without the knowledge or context to decipher it, Google has turned us into a generation of raving hypochondriacs, or ‘Cyberchondriacs’.

A Ten Eyewitness News online poll showed that more than 50 percent of people admitted to having taken panicked trips to the doctor after talking themselves into thinking they could be on death’s door.

“They have near convinced me I’m dying,” poll responder Ana Hamed said of Google symptom searches, while Michael Bielaczek said, “I had a cough, I Googled it, turned out I had full blown AIDS.”

Amy Bastian responded, “I’m a nurse in a GP surgery, and the amount of people who Google their symptoms is bloody ridiculous! Sure, if you want to go from having a sore toe to being clinically dead in two clicks, go for it, but it would really just be easier to come see your GP to start with.”Instead, many people start with a Google search, or an online symptom checker when they feel ill.

In Australia, half of patients aged 25-44 access health information online, while nearly one in three use the Internet to search specific problems addressed at a GP visit, according to a 2013 study by the Australian General Practice Statistics and Classification Centre (AGPSCC.)

But just how accurate is that health information?

If you’re using an online symptom-checker, the answer might shock you.

A study conducted last year by researchers at Harvard Medical tested 23 of the most popular online symptom checkers, feeding them a range of symptoms from 45 patient case studies.Distressingly, the correct diagnosis was displayed first in only 34 percent of evaluations.

Likewise, the correct diagnosis was displayed amongst the top 20 possible diagnoses only 58 percent of the time.

Your chances of getting proper medical advice online is worse than winning at two-up. Online symptom checkers are a minefield for misdiagnoses.So how do we navigate the confusion? Luckily, there are a few guidelines to follow to avoid those late-night panic attacks.

Dr Magdalen Campbell from the Sydney North Health Network says it’s all about increasing your health literacy, and using the Internet as a tool together with your GP.

“We realize patients often Google their symptoms,” she said, “ but since using the Internet as a diagnostic tool is not always the best way to do things, if we're going to recommend using the Internet, we would do it as part of the consultation.”Be cautious with the information you find online. Here are some tips, tricks and things to remember:

Don’t Google late at night

If it’s something that can wait, sleep on it. Things tend to look brighter in the morning.

“I usually say don't do it in the middle of the night because you're usually tired and anxious and worried by that stage,” Dr Campbell said.

After a proper nights’ sleep, any search results you come across are bound to be less exaggerated by your own fears.

Even doctors have their own GPs

We’re all human, and the advice to resist Internet-based and self-diagnosis goes for everyone, even medical professionals.

“We will tend to, as human beings, disaster-think,” Dr Campbell said. “When we actually get any symptoms, we tend to look at the worst possible scenario and often come out with that. So it's better to actually go to the GP with any information and concerns, then as a partner with the GP, figure out what the symptoms are and what they really mean.”

If you are going to use the Internet, use reputable sources

Anyone can publish anything on the Internet, so take your search results with a grain of salt. And no, you can’t trust Wikipedia.

A recent study showed Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website for accessing medical information online, but nine out of ten articles on some of the most common medical conditions (coronary artery disease, lung cancer, depression, osteoarthritis, hypertension, diabetes and back pain) did not contain the most up-to-date research and health information.

“Dr Google goes world-wide, s o some of the information isn't even actually relevant in Australia,” Dr Campbell adds. “Dr Google goes to every single website.

“We say look, start with the very reputable ones. Everything from any of the government sites, the National Prescribing Service (NPS), and then move out from there. Primary Health Networks (PHNs) have links and widgets to various different health information sites.

“And for goodness sake, tell me what you've got from the Internet – I can tell you myself from knowledge whether it’s reputable, or else I can actually do a search on the secure medical websites, where research is being done.”

Know that online symptom searches can cause ‘cyberchondria’

Remember that online symptom checkers show you every possible diagnosis from a cold virus to leukaemia. And they’re only right about one-third of the time. Keep calm, and take your concerns to your doctor.

“They'll look down the list and see something they recognize, or that they are concerned or worried about, and then try to fit their symptoms into what that disease is. So we prefer to actually diagnose something prior to them [looking online],” Dr Campbell said.

The moral? If you use the proper approach, you won’t become a victim of cyberchondria.

The Internet can be a fantastic resource for medical information, but only if used wisely, and in its proper context.

Search in the light of day, use a government or doctor recommended resource, and most importantly, your search results are no substitute for your GP.

Keep calm, and Google responsibly.

Source:  http://tenplay.com.au/news/national/june/has-google-created-a-nation-of-cyberchondriacs

Categorized in Search Engine

Parts of Britain are being left behind on access to online services, because of slow broadband, research suggests.

King's College London researchers said many of the regions with the worst internet access also used modern services the least.

The study compared online logs from half of the country's population with rates of use of the BBC's iPlayer.

One analyst said it raised questions about rural areas being "deprived of the full benefits of broadband".
According to the study, which was published this week, South Ayrshire, Ards and the Isle of Wight were among the areas where people used iPlayer the least.

They also named the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Down and Midlothian as areas of similarly low usage.
When they had compared the regional disparities with Ofcom data on broadband speeds, they had found a positive correlation, they said.

Similarly, areas that had used iPlayer a lot, such as London, south Gloucestershire and Bristol, had generally benefited from relatively fast broadband speeds.


"It is clear that high-speed broadband is an important factor in the use of bandwidth-intensive applications such as BBC iPlayer," said Dr Nishanth Sastry, a senior lecturer at King's College London (KCL) and the lead researcher.

"With technological advancements, it is likely that more services important to daily life will move online, yet there is a significant proportion of the population with inadequate broadband connections who won't be able to access such services."

Ian Watt, a telecommunications consultant with the analyst Ovum, said the research highlighted the "need for ubiquitous high speed broadband access, including the extent to which some rural areas where broadband speeds remain relatively low are being deprived of the full benefits of broadband".

But he added that the disparity could be explained by people who did not want to use such bandwidth-intensive services not feeling the need to pay for faster broadband.

"It is also important to remember that, although the retail price of broadband is similar across different parts of the UK, the cost of providing it varies significantly, depending on household density," he said.

Mr Watt said broadband speed was particularly important for households wanting to view high definition video and those in which many people wanted to use services simultaneously.

"Recent Ovum research indicated a speed of 25Mbps was an appropriate target access speed to provide a high quality experience for video services," he said.

But according to the KCL research, even the areas that used iPlayer were not benefiting from speeds of 25Mbps.

The researchers looked at records of 1.9 billion sessions on iPlayer by 32 million monthly users between May 2013 and January 2014.

They said they chose the service because it is funded by the TV licence and access to TV content is restricted to the UK, allowing them to isolate the domestic market.

Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36538439

Categorized in Online Research

Last week, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins and a well-known industry analyst gave her annual internet trends report. Her presentation was almost 30 minutes long, during which she covered a whopping total of 213 slides. Which means there was a ton of really great information. For your viewing pleasure, I have boiled it down to what I believe are the top six takeaways marketers should pay attention to.

Or, you can watch the entire presentation for yourself.

In 5 Years, Expect 50% of Searches to be Images or Voice

We’ve already seen a huge growth in speech searches, but the idea of image searches is still fairly new. This stat makes it clear that brands need to stop trying to use outdated SEO tactics and focus on using a more conversational tone to mimic the way consumers will search in the future.

Internet Ads Work, But Have a Ways To Go

One of the stats that stood out to me is that 91% of internet users have considered using ad blockers. For publishers like SEJ, who rely on users seeing these ads, and brands that rely on ads to drive sales, this could be huge.

Mary says: “If there has ever been a call to arms to create better ads, this is it.”

Lately, native advertising has become more popular, and I believe is likely to continue growing as ad blocker usage increases.

meeker internet trends report

Globally, Internet Growth is Flat

In fact, it is actually decelerating if you exclude India, which is now the #2 market for internet users behind China. This means there is no longer a nearly endless stream of new internet users we can count on to click on bad ads and read poorly written content.More people who are using the internet have been here a while and are getting savvy. It is time stop trying to trick and start providing real value.

Smartphone Growth is Slowing

In addition to overall slow in growth of mobile phone usage and sales, Android phones showed gains over iOS, which means marketers who are ignoring Android need to rethink that strategy. Keep in mind, this is a slow in growth, which means there is still growth. So, this isn’t a sky is falling type of stat, but a reminder that no one stays on top forever. Mobile definitely still matters.

The Internet Represents 10% of Retail Sales, Compared to Less Than 2% In 2000
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that sales over the internet have grown in the last 16 years, but what is very interesting about this is it shows 90% of sales are still happening in person. This represents a huge area of growth for e-commerce.

Final Takeaway: Adjust for Slower Growth, Higher Debt, and An Aging Population
These trends help highlight the risks marketers face, but also uncovers opportunities for brands who are willing to innovate, learn to work more effectively, and provide a better user experience.

What are your thoughts after watching her presentation? I would love to hear what your favorite takeaway was in the comments section.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/5-search-related-takeaways-mary-meekers-2016-internet-trends-report/165434/

Categorized in Others


Use to: widen your search and ensure that you don't miss relevant records

Most databases are not intelligent - they just search for exactly what you type in. Truncation and wild card symbols enable you to overcome this limitation. These symbols can be substituted for letters to retrieve variant spellings and word endings.

a wild card symbol replaces a single letter - useful to retrieve alternative spellings and simple plurals

eg wom?n will find woman or women
a truncation symbol retrieves any number of letters - useful to find different word endings based on the root of a word

eg africa* will find africa, african, africans, africaans
eg agricultur* will find agriculture, agricultural, agriculturalist
Important hint! Check the online help screens for details of the symbols recognised by the database you are searching - not all databases use the ? and * symbols.


Use to: combine your search words and include synonym

Also known as Boolean operators, search operators allow you to include multiple words and concepts in your searches. The shaded areas on the diagrams below indicate the records retrieved using each operator.

AND retrieves records containing both words. Boolean AND search operator
In this example the shaded area contains records with both women and africa in the text.
It narrows your search.

Some databases automatically connect keywords with and.

OR retrieves records containing either word. Boolean OR search operator
In this example the shaded area contains records with women, or gender, or both words in the text.
It broadens your search.
You can use this to include synonyms in your search.

NOT retrieves your first word but excludes the second. Boolean NOT search operator
In this example the shaded area indicates that only records containing just Africa will be retrieved (not those with both Africa and Asia)
Beware! By using this operator you might exclude relevant results because you will lose those records which include both words. 


Use to: combine multiple search words

On most databases you can type in a search statement, which involves combining your search words using search operators. When creating a search statement you must use brackets to ensure correct processing of the search.

Words representing the same concept should be bracketed and linked with OR
eg (women or gender)
Groups of bracketed terms can then be linked with AND or NOT
This is an example search statement bringing together all the techniques described above:

(wom?n or gender) and agricultur* and africa*

Searches enclosed within brackets will be performed first and their results combined with the other searches.

This is how the search would look when entered into the CAB Abstracts database 

Example search in the CAB databasePHRASE AND PROXIMITY SEARCHING

Phrase searching

Use to: make your search more specific

Phrase searching is a useful technique which can increase the relevance of your results. Sometimes your search may comprise common words which, when combined in an AND search, retrieve too many irrelevant records. Databases use different techniques to specify phrase searching - check the online help.

Some web search engines and databases allow you to specify a phrase using inverted commas.
eg "agricultural development"
eg "foot and mouth"

Hint! Some databases automatically perform a phrase search if you do not use any search operators eg agriculture africa is not a phrase used in English so you may not find any items on the subject. Use AND in between your search words to avoid this.

Proximity searching
Use to: make a search more specific and exclude irrelevant records

Some databases use 'proximity operators'. These enable you to specify how near one word must be to another and, in some cases, in what order. This makes a search more specific and excludes irrelevant records. For instance, if you were searching for references about women in Africa, you might retrieve irrelevant records for items about women published in Africa. Performing a proximity search will only retrieve the two words in the same sentence, and so exclude those irrelevant records.

Databases which have this facility vary considerably in their methods
eg: Web of Science - women same africa - retrieves records where the two words appear in the same sentence.

Hint! Check the online help for details of proximity operators recognised by the database you are searching.


Many databases offer other more advanced features which you can use to refine your searches further. These techniques include:

Search sets

Your results are displayed as "sets", which can be combined with other searches or new words.

Field-specific searching

Most database records are made up of different fields (eg author, title etc.). Field-specific searching allows you to select a particular field in which to search, rather than performing a keyword search across all fields. Some databases allow you to type words into specific search boxes, whereas in others you will need to type in the field name or its code.

Hint! Check help screens for field names or codes, and other hints on searching specific fields.

Searching using indexes

It is possible to search some databases using indexes, which are usually alphabetical lists of authors or subjects. They allow you to refine your search using the correct form of names or terms as defined on that particular database.

Hint! Not all databases allow searching using indexes. Check the online help on a particular database for more information.

 Example of the limits available in the CAB Abstracts database

 Many databases allow you to limit your search in various ways. Limits are usually available on advanced search screens, or you can apply them after doing your keyword search. An example of the search limits from the CAB Abstracts database is shown on the left.

Check the help pages on the database you are using for detailed instructions on applying these limits.Examples of the types of limits you can apply include:

by date

by language

by publication type (eg journal articles, chapters in books, review articles that provide detailed summaries of research, book reviews) 

Source:  https://www.reading.ac.uk/library/finding-info/guides/databases/lib-searching-databases-search-techniques.aspx

Categorized in Search Techniques

Google’s I/O developer conference brought several huge announcements about Google’s future direction and projects, including two new technologies which demonstrate just how important voice search and natural language processing are to the company’s future development.

The first, Google Assistant, is a voice-activated digital assistant which builds on “all [Google’s] years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions”, as Google’s blog declared. It takes Google’s voice search and natural language capabilities to the next level, while also allowing users to carry out everyday tasks like booking cinema tickets or restaurant reservations.

The second is Google Home, Google’s long-awaited smart home hub to rival the Amazon Echo, which comes with Assistant built in. Google Home – which will be “unmatched in far-field voice recognition”, according to VP of Product Management Mario Quieroz – will give users access to Google’s powerful search capabilities in answering their questions as well as linking together smart devices all over their home.

google assistant

It’s no surprise that Google is focusing heavily on voice search and natural language going forward when you consider that in 2015 alone, voice search rose from “statistical zero” to make up 10% of all searches globally, according to Timothy Tuttle of the voice interface specialist MindMeld. That’s an estimated 50 billion searches per month.

Indeed, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed in his keynote speech at I/O that 1 in every 5 searches made with the Google Android app in the US is a voice query. Bing produced a similar statistic earlier this month when it announced that a quarter of all searches on the Windows 10 taskbar using Bing are voice searches. And statistics like these are only like to increase further as search engines, apps and developers respond to this trend.

Digital assistants: The agents of voice search

Siri. Cortana. Google Now. Alexa. Google Assistant. These are only the names of the most well-known digital assistants from the major technology companies; a search for “digital assistant” on the iOS or Android app store shows just how many different varieties of these voice-controlled AIs there are.

Digital assistants are overwhelmingly the medium through which we interact with voice search and carry out natural language queries, so it makes sense that they, too, are on the rise as companies compete for the biggest share of this rapidly expanding market.

The figures show just how recent much of this uptake of voice search is. Late last year, MindMeld published a study of smartphone users in the U.S. and their use of voice search and voice commands. It found that 60% of smartphone users who used voice search had begun using it within the past year, with 41% of survey respondents having only begun to use voice search in the past 6 months.


With that said, digital assistants are not just confined to smartphones any more, increasingly integrated into devices like smart home hubs and game consoles. And the more that we speak to and interact with assistants, pushing the limits of what they’re capable of, the more sophisticated they become.

The newest generation of digital assistants, including Google Assistant and Viv, a new AI from the creators of Siri, are capable of interpreting and responding to long, multi-part and highly specific queries. For example, during a public demonstration in New York, Viv showed off its ability to accurately respond to queries like, “Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?” and “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?”

At the demonstration of Google Assistant at Google’s I/O conference, Sundar Pichai made much of the fact that you can pose follow-up queries to Assistant without needing to restate context. That is, you can ask a question like, “Who directed the Revenant?” and then follow up by saying, “Show me his awards,” and Assistant will know that you are still referring to director Alejandro Iñárritu in the second query. (It’s worth noting, though, that Bing’s web search has been able to do this for a while).



How voice queries are changing search

So how is this upswing in voice queries and technology’s increasing ability to respond to them changing the way that users search?

We don’t search with voice the same way that we search with a keyboard. Computer users have evolved a specific set of habits and expectations for web search based on its limitations and capabilities. So we would start off by typing a quite generalised, keyword-based search query like “SEO tips”, see what comes back, and progressively narrow down through trial and error with longer search terms like “SEO tips for m-commerce” or “SEO tips for beginners”.

Or if we were looking to buy a pair of red shoes, we might search for “red shoes” and then navigate to a specific website, browse through their shoes and use the site interface to narrow down by style, size and designer.

Whereas now, with the advanced capabilities of search engines to understand longer, more specialised searches and the advent of voice search making natural language queries more common, we might start off by searching, “Quick SEO tips for complete beginners”, or, “Show me wide-fit ladies’ red shoes for under £50.” 

voice vs keyword search

The increasing rise of voice search brings with it a wealth of new data on user intent, habits and preferences. From the first query about SEO, a site owner can see that the searcher is not just a novice but a complete novice, and is not looking to spend a lot of time researching in-depth SEO guides; they want a list that’s easy to digest and quick to implement.

From the second query, a shop owner can tell exactly what type of shoes the consumer is looking for, down to the fit and colour. The price range indicates a budget and an intent to buy.

When mobile users are conducting voice search with location enabled, site owners and business owners can also gain valuable location data. Often, the voice query will contain the important phrase “near me”, which shows that the searcher is looking for local businesses. Mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than text, so optimising for local search and mobile will also help you to rank for many voice searches.

A mobile screenshot of a Google search for "Marks and Spencer near me", showing the three-pack of local results below a small map of the area.With the growth of voice search, we can expect to see more and more long-tail search keywords and natural language queries, which give increasing amounts of contextual information and useful data about searcher intent. The addition of voice assistants to smart home hubs like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home (Apple is also reported to be developing its own smart hub with Siri built in) will also give the companies behind them access to untold amounts of data on users’ daily life and habits, purchases, interests and more, opening up new avenues for marketing.

How can you capitalise on voice search?

With all of that in mind, what practical things can website owners do to take advantage of this new search frontier?

Look out for natural language queries in your site analytics

At the moment, there’s no way to tell outright which users are reaching your site through voice search, though Google is rumoured to be developing this feature for Google Analytics. But by looking out for natural language queries in your search traffic reports, you can start to get a feel for what users might be asking to find your site, learn from it and use it to inform your SEO strategy.

Think about how people are likely to phrase queries aloud

We need to start moving our approach from thinking of endless variations on different keywords to thinking about different types of questions and phrases that users might search. Ask yourself which questions might bring a user to your site, and how they will speak them aloud. What are the extra words, the ones that wouldn’t appear in a regular keyword search, and what information do they give you about the user’s intent on your site?

Make sure your site is set up to answer searchers’ questions

Once you’ve considered the types of questions a user might be asking, consider whether your site will satisfy those queries. Rob Kerry, in a presentation on the future of search at Ayima Insights, advised website owners to start integrating Q&A-style content into their sites in order to rank better for natural language searches and better satisfy the needs of users who are asking those questions.

Q&A-style content can also be excellent material for featured snippets, which is another great way to gain visibility on the search results page.

Develop content with a conversational tone

Because natural language queries reflect the way that people speak, they aren’t just longer but more colloquial. So consider if there are ways that you can create and incorporate content with a more conversational tone, to match this.

Use voice search!

One of the best ways to understand voice search, how it works and what kind of results it returns is to use it yourself. Search the questions you think might bring people to your site and see what currently ranks top, to get a sense of what works for others. Are there questions that aren’t being addressed, or answered very well? You can take this into account when creating content that is geared towards voice search.


Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/31/the-continuing-rise-of-voice-search-and-how-you-can-adapt-to-it/ 

Categorized in Internet Technology

Here’s why you need to start paying attention to Google Maps Timeline, an obscure Google feature you’ve probably never heard of.

I went over to a friend’s house a few days ago.

I arrived at 8:51 p.m. after a six-minute walk, and sat in the back yard until 10:11, a total of 80 minutes.

I don’t usually keep track of my life at this level of detail. But it turns out that between them, Google and my Android phone do. 

Since April, when I got the phone and activated the Google Maps app, the phone has been reporting my comings and goings, all of which are mapped and are visible if I’m logged in to my Google account. Have a look at your version — there may be data on you.

Google Maps Timeline, a feature that launched last summer, has tracked essentially all my movements since April 5. As far as I can tell it’s almost perfectly accurate in understanding whether I’ve been on foot, driving, or riding a bike.

The slower I travel, the more accurate the resulting maps are. When Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway is moving well, I’m tracked in quick, crude lines. In slow traffic, it becomes more precise. 

How often does my phone connect to Google? It varies, spokesperson Aaron Brindle wrote in an e-mail.

“In order for your timeline to work properly, it collects data from a variety of sources such as GPS, WiFi, cell towers and device sensors like gyroscopes and accelerometers.”

Based on my own maps, though, it seems to be in the order of about two to five minutes, though I’ve found strings that are 20 seconds apart.

A couple of days after my 80-minute social call, our middle child, who’s seven, was excited about soccer practice. Her excitement couldn’t be contained, so I took her to the park early. Once there, we had to run around until things started, until all that energy could be channeled into organized sports. Here’s what Google made of it (light blue lines only): 




As with so many things that affect our digital privacy, I apparently agreed to all this tracking, but without visualizing what my agreement would mean. It happened when I was setting up the phone and trying to get Google’s map app to work back in April.

“You must opt-in to turn on Location History for your Google account, and turn on each signed-in device that you want to use to send location reports to Location History,” Brindle wrote. “Location History is turned off by default.”

Can I trust Google with all this data I didn’t know was being gathered? For the sake of argument, let’s say the answer is yes.

A search for “google maps timeline” creepy gets dozens of results. I see the point, and somewhat agree, but on the other hand we have to give Google credit for transparency.

READ MORE: Does your phone help build Google’s traffic maps? (And is that bad?)

We sacrifice our online privacy on many different kinds of altars, but I’ve never seen a company visualize in such detail what data they were collecting, and explain exactly how to turn it off (which is easy to do).

The bigger problem, though, is this.

Even though we try to safeguard the dozens of passwords we accumulate in our digital life, our security is never going to be perfect. It’s easy to remember simple passwords, easy to rarely change them, easy to let a web browser remember them. Bad habits make busy lives a bit smoother, and they don’t matter, until they do.

The problem with Timeline is that anyone who gets hold of my Google username and password would have access not just to my email, but also to a detailed record of all of my physical movements. They could also use the Timeline feature that lets users export your geospatial data as a .kml file, and look at it in Google Earth, where it will play as an animation. So a single compromise of the Google account could lead to a permanent compromise of the data and a user’s past whereabouts.

With this in mind, let’s read this e-mailed statement from Google explaining the purpose of Timeline:

Your Timeline in Google Maps helps you easily remember and visualize the places you’ve been on a given day, month or year — providing a useful map of your life. This feature helps you visualize your real-world routines, easily view the trips you’ve taken and get a glimpse of the places you spend your time.

Now, let’s change a few pronouns around. I’ll use myself as an example.

Cain’s Timeline in Google Maps helps you easily visualize the places he has been on a given day, month or year — providing a useful map of his life. This feature helps you visualize his real-world routines, easily view the trips he’s taken and get a glimpse of the places he spends his time.

Not surprisingly, police have started to explore the possibilities. Earlier this year, the FBI served Google with a warrant in which they sought Android location data which they hoped would place a California man they were investigating for bank robbery at the scene of the crime.

The data should be precise enough to place Timothy Graham in the Bank of America in Ramona, Calif. on the day in question, supposing he robbed the bank and was dumb enough to bring his phone along as well as the “painter’s mask, hat and glasses” that witnesses described to police.

Here’s where I spent the day Tuesday, in Global’s Toronto newsroom, as my phone checked in with Google over and over again. That pretty much is where I sit, give or take five metres or so. 

160608_barber greene_2


In the meantime, Timeline lets users edit or correct their data, remove dates — or just delete the whole thing entirely.

There is no real down side, Brindle says, unless you find Timeline itself useful. Google’s other location-based features will all still work.

Timeline does have a feature that alerts you to traffic problems on your usual commute, once it learns your normal route. It can also automatically generate a photo gallery if you go on vacation.

We’re not good at navigating the new world that our devices offer us, at least if we’re trying to hold on to the last shreds of privacy that are left to us.

“We have this consent model, but the consent model doesn’t work, because people don’t know what they’re consenting to,” University of Toronto law professor Lisa Austin said when we started writing about digital privacy. “It’s impossible for the average person to understand this actually, just in terms of information overload and the implications of it.”

“These companies, God knows what half of them do with your information, because we’re not reading these policies. We don’t know what we’re authorizing them to do, let alone what they’re actually following what they say they’re doing.”


Source:  http://globalnews.ca/news/2746703/google-maps-timeline-why-a-little-known-google-feature-tracked-me-for-months/

Categorized in Search Engine

In the modern world, wide usage and the easy accessibility to computers and the internet has increased people’s dependency on technology. Computers and the internet have become the vital hub for people’s various needs. Therefore, acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge regarding computers and the internet have become significant for their efficient use. At least a minimum amount of knowledge and skill is required to navigate around the system effectively. Although it is difficult to find one single manual to learn basic computer skills or to learn the use of applications, there are many ways to increase one’s knowledge in computers varying from short courses, articles to magazines etc.


Computer Basics


Computer is the primary tool that you will use in accessing the internet. Hence acquiring skills in using a computer is imperative. Just like learning a new language the process of mastering the language of computers requires practice and feedback. However, with the increased use of Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the decreased reliance on typed command labels and text navigation has enabled the beginners to learn the language of computers faster. Nevertheless, there are still some core skills you need to develop in increasing your computer aptitude.


  • Be systematic – Document all the complicated steps
  • Be creative – Look for alternative ways to accomplish a task
  • Practice – Apply what you learned in the real world
  • Be patient – Be positive. Learning from your mistakes is a crucial element in the process of computer education
  • Do not be afraid to ask – There are people who are always willing to help. When you ask, you may find someone who has encountered the same problem.
  • Internet Explorer
  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple’s Safari
  • Opera
  • cnn.com
  • pcwebopedia.com
  • infoplease.com
  • coca-cola.com
  • .com - commercial businesses
  • .edu - educational institutions (universities, colleges, K-12, etc.)
  • .gov - nonmilitary government agencies and departments
  • .net - Network resources
  • .org - Other organizations


Useful Terms for Beginners


Operating System (OS): This is the program that is initially loaded into the computer by a boot program and then manages all the other programs in the computer. [Source: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/operating-system-OS]


Graphical User Interface (GUI): This is a program interface that takes advantage of the computer's graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use. Properly designed graphical user interfaces can free the user from learning complex command languages. [Source: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/G/Graphical_User_Interface_GUI.html]


Universal Operating System (UNIX): This is one of the first multitasking, multi-user computer operating system developed by Bell Labs in early 1970’s.  UNIX is a small, flexible system designed to be used exclusively by programmers. [Source: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/UNIX.html]

This is also one of the most popular operating systems for internet servers. UNIX has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that provide an easy to use environment. There are different versions of UNIX, the most popular being Sun Solaris, GNU/Linux, and MacOS X.


Application: This refers to a program or a group of programs designed for the end user. Application software is divided into two categories; system software and application software. Application software includes database programs, word processors, web browsers and spreadsheet, etc. [http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/application.html]


Internet Basics


Although the internet is independent of the operating system hardware and software platform you use, to use the internet effectively, it is necessary to know your way around your hardware and software systems. A crucial element that you should gain an understanding is about your computer's operating system (OS). Users may have very different experiences with the internet depending on the operating systems they are using, and the applications they are running. The same task can require very different commands on different operating systems, and other software. For example sending an email through Apple Mail on OSX may require a vastly different set of actions than sending an email through MS Outlook on Windows 8. 


Internet Surfing vs. Internet Searching


Internet surfing refers to the casual browsing of material on the World Wide Web. This may involve just casually reading a newspaper, going through the weather report to jumping from one site to another looking for an interesting piece of information. However, one could also stumble upon valuable information in the process of internet surfing.

On the contrary, Internet searching refers to more serious research done with a definite purpose in mind. In other words, using the internet specifically as a research tool. This may involve finding information to support a debate, write a report, develop a proposal, plan a presentation or just to keep up with the current issues in your field.


Useful Terms for Beginners


Web Browser: This is a software that allows you to access the internet. In other words, it is the gateway to access the knowledge on the internet. A user can type in a site address in a browser’s search box and visit websites, do other activities such as login in, view multimedia, send and receive email, etc.  Your computer’s operating system will determine the type of browser you will use.

Some of the most popular browsers in the market includes;


Uniform Resource Locator (URL): This refers to the address that you use to locate your resource material on the internet. A URL will guide the user to a particular website or a page on the internet. It is also used to access any document or launch an application on the internet. URL is similar to citation used in referencing an article. A citation provides the author’s name, title of the publication, page number and other relevant information to allow any interested parties to follow the author’s work. In the same way, a URL is used to refer to a document or resource on the internet.

Example of a URL



Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP): In the above URL, HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the standard that controls the transfer of documents on the World Wide Web (WWW) followed by colon (:) and a double forward slash (//). ‘Nypl’ is the domain name while ‘org’ is the Top Level Domain. sitemap/ indicates a folder containing the document, and index.html refers to the name of the document file requested.


Internet Protocol (IP):  This refers to a unique address that computing devices use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the Internet Protocol network. [Source: http://www.iplocation.net/tools/ip-address.php] In other words, it is a unique number provided to your computer connection by your internet service provider. It is a combination of four numbers (not greater than 256) separated by dots. An IP is assigned to each user on the internet since they are a part of a vast network.


Domain Name: This refers a unique name that identifies a website. It is a series of words used as identification labels to make it easier for us to remember. They are used to identify one or more IP addresses and to access web pages. Domain names provide names to Internet resources that are easily remembered by the users so they can be remembered and accessed when needed. Frequently used in URLs, they can be used to identify a particular web page and allow your web browser to guide you to the page. When you put in the web address of a website, i.e. the domain name, the computer automatically converts it into the numerical IP address.

Examples of Domain Names

All domain names have a suffix that identifies its top-level domain (TLD). There are only a limited number of such domains.

Examples of Top Level Domain Names

Email Address:  This refers to the name that identifies an electronic post box on a network where an email is sent. In other words, this is an individual’s unique identifier on the internet. It comprises of the local part and the domain name. Email addresses come in handy when communicating over the internet, since it indicates which mailbox an email should be delivered to.

For example, in This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., johndoe is the local part while the part after @, yahoo.com, is the domain name.

Email addresses aren’t always for individuals only. Sometimes a company, or a department might have a single email address; such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Having such generic email addresses makes it easier for customers, and other interested parties to remember them. 


Written By: Elizabeth T. Weinstein

Categorized in Internet Technology


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

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