[Source: This article was published in techcrunch.com By Catherine Shu - Uploaded by the Association Member: Clara Johnson]

When Facebook  Graph Search launched six years ago, it was meant to help users discover content across public posts on the platform. Since then, the feature stayed relatively low-profile for many users (its last major announcement was in 2014 when a mobile version was rolled out) but became a valuable tool for many online investigators who used it to collect evidence of human rights abuses, war crimes and human trafficking. Last week, however, many of them discovered that Graph Search features had suddenly been turned off, reports Vice.

Graph Search let users search in plain language (i.e. sentences written the way people talk, not just keywords), but more importantly, it also let them filter search results by very specific criteria. For example, users could find who had liked a page or photo, when someone had visited a city or if they had been in the same place at the same time with another person. Despite the obvious potential for privacy issues, Graph Search was also an important resource for organizations like Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website that used it to document Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen for its Yemen Project.

Other investigators also used Graph Search to build tools like StalkScan, but the removal of Graph Search means they have had to suspend their services or offer them in a very limited capacity. For example, StalkScan’s website now has a notice that says:

“As of June 6th, you can scan only your own profile with this tool. After two years and 28M+ StalkScan sessions, Facebook decided to make the Graph Search less transparent. As usual, they did this without any communication or dialogue with activists and journalists that used it for legitimate purposes.The creepy graph search itself still exists, but is now less accessible and more difficult to use. Make sure to check yourself with this tool, since your data is still out there!”

Facebook may be trying to take a more cautious stance because it is still dealing with the fall out from several major security lapses, including the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, as well as the revelation earlier this year that it had stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text.

In a statement to Vice, a Facebook spokesperson said “The vast majority of people on Facebook search using keywords, a factor which led us to pause some aspects of graph search and focus more on improving keyword search. We are working closely with researchers to make sure they have the tools they need to use our platform.” But one of Vice’s sources, a current employee at Facebook, said within the company there is “lots of internal and external struggle between giving access to info so people can find friends or research things (like Bellingcat),  and protecting it.”

TechCrunch has contacted Facebook for more information.

Categorized in Internet Search

Over the past year, Pew Research Center conducted an experiment to see if the mode by which someone was surveyed – in this case, a telephone survey with an interviewer versus a self-administered survey on the Web – would have any effect on the answers people gave. We used two randomly selected groups from our American Trends Panel to do this, asking both groups the same set of 60 questions.

Respondents can give different answers on web-based surveys than in phone interviews.

The result? Overall, our study found that it was fairly common to see differences in responses between those who took the survey with an interviewer by phone and those who took the survey on their own (self-administered) online, but typically the differences were not large. There was a mean difference of 5.5 percentage points and a median difference of 5 points across the 60 questions.

But there were three broad types of questions that produced larger differences (known as mode effects) between the responses of those interviewed by phone vs. Web. These differences are noteworthy given that many pollsters, market research firms and political organizations are increasingly turning to online surveys which, compared with phone surveys, are generally less expensive to produce and faster in yielding results.

Here are three of the areas that showed the biggest mode gaps in responses from the phone and Web groups in our study:

People express more negative views of politicians in web surveys than in phone surveys.1People expressed more negative views of politicians in Web surveys than in phone surveys. 

Those who took Web surveys were far more likely than those interviewed on the phone to give various political figures a “very unfavorable” rating. This tendency was especially concentrated among members of the opposite party of each figure rated. Hillary Clinton’s ratings are a good example of this pattern. When asked on the phone, 36% of Republicans and those who lean Republican told interviewers they had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Clinton, but that number jumped to 53% on the Web. However, as with most of the political figures, Clinton’s positive ratings varied only modestly by mode – 53% rated her positively on the Web, compared with 57% on the phone.

The same patterns seen with Clinton were also evident for Republican political figures. Web respondents were 13 points more likely than phone respondents to have a “very unfavorable” view of Sarah Palin. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 63% expressed a very unfavorable view of Palin on the Web, compared with only 44% on the phone.

2People who took phone surveys were more likely than those who took Web surveys to say that certain groups of people – such as gays and lesbians, Hispanics, and blacks – faced “a lot” of discrimination.

Here, the impact of the mode of interview varied by the race and ethnicity of the respondents.

Sizeable differences between web surveys and phone surveys on views of discrimination.When asked about discrimination against gays and lesbians, 62% of respondents on the phone said they faced “a lot” of discrimination, but only 48% gave the same answer on the Web. The mode effect on this question appeared among both Democrats and Republicans.

Telephone survey respondents were also more likely than Web respondents to say that Hispanics faced “a lot” of discrimination (54% in the phone survey, 42% in the Web survey). There was also a difference in response by mode among Hispanics questioned for this study: 41% on the Web said they faced discrimination, while 61% on the phone said this. The mode difference for white respondents was 14 points. But among black respondents, there was no significant mode effect: 66% of blacks interviewed by phone said Hispanics face a lot of discrimination, while 61% of those interviewed on the Web said the same.

When asked about discrimination against blacks, more phone respondents (54%) than Web respondents (44%) said they faced a lot of discrimination. This pattern was clear among whites, where 50% on the phone and just 37% on the Web said blacks faced a lot of discrimination. But among blacks, the pattern was reversed: 71% of black respondents interviewed by phone say they faced “a lot” of discrimination, while on the Web 86% gave this answer.

3People were more likely to say they are happy with their family and social life when asked by a person over the phone than when answering questions on the Web.

Among phone survey respondents, 62% said they were “very satisfied” with their family life, while just 44% of Web respondents said this. Asked about their social life, 43% of phone respondents said they were very satisfied, while just 29% of Web respondents gave that answer. These sizable differences are evident among most social and demographic groups in the survey.

Respondents were also asked how satisfied they were with their local community as a place to live. Phone respondents were again more positive, with 37% rating their community as an excellent place to live, compared with 30% of Web respondents. But there was no significant difference by mode in the percentage who gave a negative rating of their community (“only fair” or “poor”).

So, what’s going on here? These examples are consistent with the theory that when people are interacting with an interviewer, they are more likely to give answers that paint themselves or their communities in a positive light, and less likely to portray themselves negatively. This appears to be the case with the questions presenting the largest differences in the study – satisfaction with family and social life, as well as questions about the ability to pay for food and medical care. These findings are consistent with other research that has found that when there is a human interviewer, respondents tend to give answers that would be considered more socially desirable – a phenomenon known as the “social desirability bias.”

On the political questions, however, other recent research has suggested that when interviewers are presenting the questions, respondents may choose answers that are less likely to produce an uncomfortable interaction with the interviewer. This dynamic may also be in effect among black respondents on the phone who – compared with those surveyed on the Web – are less likely to tell an interviewer that blacks face a lot of discrimination. In the interest of maintaining rapport with an interviewer, respondents may self-censor or moderate their views in ways that they would not online.

Altogether, our findings suggest that there may be advantages to online surveys, particularly if the survey seeks to measure topics that are sensitive or subject to social desirability because of the willingness of respondents to express more negative attitudes about their personal lives or toward political figures on the Web.

That said, researchers need to carefully consider the trade-offs between the two survey modes. This study only looked at differences in how people answer questions differently online and over the phone. But the survey mode can affect what kinds of people are included in the survey as well. Telephone surveys continue to provide access to survey samples that are broadly representative of the general public, even in the face of declining response rates. Many Americans still lack reliable access to the internet, and traditional phone surveys have been found to perform better than many probability-based Web surveys among some respondents, including financially struggling individuals, those with low levels of education, and minorities with low language proficiency. Given these trade-offs, we are continuously working to make our traditional methods even more robust in addition to exploring new methods for understanding public opinion.


Source : http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/14/where-web-surveys-produce-different-results-than-phone-interviews/

Categorized in Others

The pledges in the Queen’s Speech to use the proposed Digital Economy Bill to empower consumers and protect citizens (and their children) in the on-line world need to be looked at in the context of a growing gulf between voters (whether as consumers or parents) and the lobbyists of the Internet industry. The latter are still hung up about the Snowden revelation that subsets of the data they hoover up might be made available to the NSA and GCHQ. The former are getting increasingly angry at the lack of attention being paid to protecting them against on-line abuse and fraud. Meanwhile Government and  Business continue to conspire to drive us all on-line, like sheep to be fleeced.

The main change in the five years since I wrote that blog is that on-line criminals now “trouser” over four times, estimates range from $450 billion to $1 trillion, the global spend on information security, around $100 billion. The long-standing vulnerabilities (some over 20 years old) that enable them to do so have not yet been addressed. It is 15 years since I predicted (paper for the 2001 conference to celebrate the 50 Anniversary of LEO, the first business computer) a period when confidence in the veracity of anything on-line would collapse. We are now entering that period.

A US Government survey indicates that nearly half of all Americans have not carried out a normal on-line task because of fears over privacy and security . Meanwhile the Belgian police have just issued advice to users not to use Facebook reactions if they value their privacy.  It appears that Americans share the fears of European indicated by the Vodafone survey on the trust gap between consumers and the globally and nationally dominant ISPs and Telcos on which I blogged yesterday. Hence the value of a Mayoral initiative to make London the safest place to do on-line business and the most dangerous place to attack: by taking the policing of the on-line world seriously and not just repeating awareness platitudes.

The battle for control over the Internet has as many dimensions as “net neutrality” has meanings but most public debate in the UK focuses on what are non-issues to most users. Meanwhile those (a mix of convenience and confidence in authenticity, accuracy, reliability, resilience, security and privacy) which will make or break the survival of current on-line business models are rarely debated.


I will give a few examples:

The debate over broadband speeds, alias response times and usability, is moving from nominal transmission speeds to the need for lobbyists and advertisers to use numbers that reflect the experience of most users: e.g. the mean or average speeds delivered at peak times – not the top decile based on 24 hour performance, including when almost everyone is asleep. We are seeing guidance on how users can speed up the transmission speeds between their domestic router and the laptops or smart phones that have replaced PCs – e.g. use cables or wireline to avoid interference from other electrical equipment, including that next door.

The most potent way of speeding up response time is, however to stop using cloud based services and remove/block the advertising bloatware (often also cloud based) that makes systems stop dead while waiting for unwanted (by the user) monitoring services to send information on transactions and patterns of behaviour to the 700 or so services that may have been installed as a result of using mainstream search engines, social networking or media services, let alone from consciously downloading “free” apps.


Alex Kidman recently summarised what is at stake for journalists in the ad-blocking war that no-one is winning in an excellent article in the Drum. Meanwhile those fighting that war rarely allow customers to chose which side they wish to fight, let alone how much they are willing to pay, which site, in order not have their machine infected with bloatware.

The problem is acute with regard to mobile users, who are paying for the extra time taken and therefore wanting to install blocking at a time when advertisers are wishing to use ever more intrusive and detailed bloatware to track location and usage and target their messages.

In consequence Google is seeking to work with leading ad-blockers to create “acceptable use” policies in order to head off a backlash that could seriously dent its revenues – but that raises the question of “acceptable to who”.

Then come the questions over the security or otherwise of the data collected by all those monitoring services and the responsibility of those collecting when, not just if, it is used to enable fraud and impersonation. Yesterday I attended an excellent briefing sessions on the current and emerging threats to on-line retail. I had not before realised how much more profitable (to criminals) it is to install ransomware than to to go to the effort of stealing pass words or credit card data which may changed as soon as the compromise is reported.

Will the adware installers be held liable for the ransomware piggybacking on their services? Would clearer liability cause them to rethink their policies. One of my fears with regard to the Digital Economy Bill and other measures in the Queen’s Speach is that they will, in practice, water down, rather than strengthen consumer protection.

Source:  http://www.computerweekly.com/blog/When-IT-Meets-Politics/The-battle-for-the-heart-of-the-Internet-advertisers-versus-users



Categorized in Online Research


About Scholarship Search Insider

Scholarship Search Insider features weekly expert advice and information on how prospective college students can find scholarships and pay for college. Scholarships.com was founded in 1998 and has become one of the most widely used free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources. College Greenlight is a leading college and scholarship platform for first-generation and underrepresented students. Its parent company, Cappex.com, is a free resource that helps students find their best-fit colleges. Got a question? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


When applying for college scholarships and trying to determine which are worth your time and effort, consider the amount of work required, the dollar amount and the level of competition for the scholarship. A common marketing ploy is to offer as little money as possible and with few, if any, filters.

Being selective in your search is perfectly fine – just be sure to begin your scholarship search early so you will have time to apply to those that truly suit you.The scholarship search process has levels. As long as you begin early, you can start by applying for easy scholarships and work your way up to the more competitive ones.

Being selective does not mean only applying to large-dollar, well-known scholarships. Small-dollar scholarships can add up.

Here are some tips for conducting a more selective scholarship search.


1. Take it easy: Starting out with easy scholarships can be particularly helpful for students who are new to the scholarship search process. Easy scholarships have a short and simple application process, do not require an essay or project and have less competition with greater chances of winning.

For example, if your last name is Zolp, you are attending or planning to attend Loyola University Chicago and you are Catholic, you easily qualify for the Zolp Scholarship. How many people will fit such a unique profile?

High school seniors or first-time college freshmen who are Alabama residents and plan to attend college in Alabama are eligible to apply for the CollegeCounts Scholarship Program as long as they have a minimum 2.75 GPA.Easy scholarships – even at $500 per award – may be worth your time if your odds of winning are good. After all, that's $500 that you don't need to repay after graduation.

These are just a few of the easier and more specific scholarships out there. Don't discount contests and sweepstakes as well, even if they are more widely offered. However, bear in mind that the easier the scholarship and the fewer requirements to enter, the less chance you have of winning.


2. Know your big-name scholarships: Corporate-hosted and large-name scholarships probably ring a bell for most college-bound students. These scholarships are not only prestigious but also reputable, and they can be worth thousands or even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Typically, they require more work and an impressive profile, and they can be fairly competitive.

Recipients can also reference these scholarships as accomplishments on their resumes, which may offer the students benefits beyond the monetary award, including a supportive network of fellow awardees as well as the scholarship committee.These scholarships are a great fit for students with a competitive edge, a drive to succeed and outstanding grades and extracurricular involvement. They're not necessarily the easiest to apply to, but they offer large monetary awards to successful applicants.

In the world of scholarships, the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship is open to stellar community college students who are also Phi Theta Kappa members as well as heavily involved in their communities.

The famous RMHC U.S. Scholarship is open to ambitious high school seniors residing in participating Ronald McDonald House Charity chapter areas. To qualify, applicants must be younger than 21 years old, be a U.S. resident and be eligible to attend a two- or four-year college, university or technical school.


3. Avoid scholarships that charge a fee: Students should never pay for a scholarship search or application fee. Even if the fee is a small, scammers can collect thousands in application fees, doling out a small fraction of the proceeds and pocketing the rest of the money.

Legitimate scholarship providers and services will never require a fee – be sure to read the rules carefully when applying and run in the other direction if prompted for credit card information.Don't worry, though – there are plenty of legitimate options and organizations that don't charge a fee to process your application.

Ford Motor Company, for example, has partnered with The Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund to offer the $1,500 ¡Adelante! Fund Ford Motor Company/Future Leaders Scholarship for deserving Hispanic college students majoring in a science, technology, engineering and math field.

4. Consider your return on investment: All students should consider their return on investment when searching for scholarships. Churning out essays may be easy for students with strong writing skills but the average 500-1,500 word essay may take a bit longer for others.

Strong writers should certainly submit their well-written essays, especially if they're confident they can win a scholarship available to a broad pool of applicants. They should also determine whether they can reuse any of those essays for more than one scholarship application, if the scholarship rules allow.

For example, the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund offers a writing contest for grades K-12 on the theme of the Second Amendment. Although the age range is fairly broad, strong essay writers have a chance to win $1,000 by competing against fellow students in their age group.

Undergraduate and graduate women who are interested in various aspects of international business and relations and have solid writing chops can enter an essay on the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences for a chance at winning one of two $1,500 WIIT Trust Scholarships.

Source:  http://www.usnews.com/education/scholarship-search-insider/articles/2016-06-30/tips-for-conducting-a-more-selective-scholarship-search






Categorized in Online Research


I've been shopping online since it was possible to shop online. I'm not talking early-day Amazon, people, I'm saying I used to order stuff through America Online. Maybe even Prodigy (remember that?).In other words, I have literally decades of online-shopping experience, and during those years I've learned a few things. Things you should know. Things that can save you time, money, hassles or maybe even all three.So, the next time you find yourself at the checkout page for any online store, remember these three tips.

Check the cancellation options

Once the online-order wheels are set in motion, they can be hard to stop. Why would you want to? I'll give you an example: Recently I ordered an all-in-one color laser printer, having found what I thought was the best deal.


Not two hours later, I found it for $50 less from another store. Immediately I reached out to the first store's customer service department and requested cancellation of my order. After all, it had been only a couple hours; surely the printer hadn't shipped yet. Indeed, according to the online status page, it was still "processing."

The rep told me that this particular product was sold by a third-party vendor, and he would forward the cancellation request to them immediately. "Expect a response within four hours," I was told.

Long story short: After several days and a lot of back-and-forth with the company, the cancellation never happened -- even though I was assured it would. I had to receive the shipment, refuse it, then wait for the return and eventual refund. Bleh.


The takeaway: Although policies vary from one company to another, don't expect to be able to cancel an order once you've placed it. Do check the company's FAQ page to learn your options. At the same time, make sure there's a phone number you can call, because email might prove too slow to keep you within the cancellation window.

And while you're at it...


Check the return policy

I'm often surprised how few people do this, even though it's arguably the most important part of the online-shopping process. Before you buy anything, you should know everything there is to know about returning it. Specifically:

Is there a restocking fee?
Who pays for return shipping?
What's the window for returns? 30 days? 14? Less?
Does it matter if the item has been opened?

You should also note the conditions for returns. If an item is damaged or defective, you usually have more flexibility than if, say, you just don't like it. What's more, different policies often apply to different products. Suppose, for example, you buy a new printer, then decide it doesn't meet your needs. Because it's much harder for a vendor to resell a printer (because you've already opened the ink or toner) than, say, a smartphone, you might get charged a restocking fee. But if it's a smartphone, you might not.

Bottom line: Investigate all this stuff before you buy. It's worth the extra couple minutes of reading to avoid some potentially painful (and costly) issues later on.

Check for coupon codes

As I mentioned, I shop online a lot. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that you should always always always try to find a coupon code.


Here's how: Open a new tab and do a quick search for [store name] coupon code. Doesn't matter how small the outfit; you might just find a code that's good for five percent off or free shipping or even better. It's like discovering a pot of discount gold at the end of the checkout.

If you'd rather not spend extra time poring through various sites in search of a code that works, consider a browser plug-in that does the work for you. I'm a fan of Honey, which recently added a new feature that helps you save money on Amazon purchases. But its claim to fame is one-click coupon-code search, and it'll even try the ones it finds to see if any of them work.

No code? Try to reverse-engineer yourself a discount by hitting up a cashback service. Even if you already have the item in your cart and you're ready to check out, swing by a site like Ebates. If there's a cashback option available, click through and return to the store. Your items should still be in your cart; now you can check out like normal, except you'll score a rebate after your purchase.

Source:  http://www.cnet.com/how-to/3-things-you-should-always-do-at-the-online-checkout/






Categorized in Online Research

When the grandees of the global advertising industry met in the south of France earlier this week for the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, they had much to feel good about.

Global ad spending is expected to reach $600 billion US by the end of next year, according to eMarketer, and grow at an annual rate of about five per cent until the end of the decade. Much of that growth is being fuelled by digital advertising, particularly on mobile devices.

But there was one session in Cannes where some very dark clouds managed to intrude on the sunny forecast. It was a panel devoted to the current scourge of the digital advertising industry — ad blocking

According to a report by PageFair and Adobe, more than 200 million people worldwide have downloaded software that can block virtually all online advertising.

The number of people blocking ads increased by more than 40 per cent last year, and it is estimated that blocking cost cash-starved publishers more than $22 billion last year.So it's not surprising that just about any time advertisers and publishers get together these days, the question of what to do about ad blocking is usually high on the agenda.

The panel at Cannes was hosted by Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who has made no secret of his contempt for ad blockers.At an IAB meeting in January, he described ad blocking as "an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism."

skip this ad

White lists

The source of the ad industry's outrage is the ad blockers' practice of "white listing." Publishers and advertisers can pay an ad blocking company to have their ads appear on a user's page, even if the user has paid to have ads blocked.

The ad blockers defend the practice by arguing they only allow ads they deem to be "acceptable," but Kate Kaye, who writes about digital marketing for AdAge, isn't buying it.

"If I'm a consumer and I've downloaded that thing I might be a little bit off-put by the fact that someone can pay to have the technology that I downloaded actually not work," Kaye said in a recent interview.

"I think it's analogous somewhat to mafia protection pay. It's like we're going to create a threat and then we're going to ask you to pay us to not threaten you."Almost everyone in the ad industry acknowledges that most of the wounds that have led to the rise in ad blocking are self-inflicted.

Advertisers got greedy by assaulting users with too many low quality, untargeted ads, too many auto play videos, too much click bait.Last fall, the IAB launched an initiative called L.E.A.N. Ads (light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive).

The IAB hopes that by following the L.E.A.N. guidelines, advertisers will create ads that consumers will be happy to see.

apple laptop

Playing hardball

But improving the user experience is not the only weapon in the arsenal. Some high-end publishers are playing hardball with readers who have installed ad blockers.

Sites like Forbes and GQ won't allow access to their content unless users turn them off. At Cannes, Mark Thompson, the president and CEO of the New York Times, announced that his newspaper would soon be offering an ad-free edition to subscribers at a premium price.

Other publishers are appealing to their readers' sense of fairness and justice, asking them to turn off their blockers and reminding them they are a critical part of the ecosystem that has powered the internet for the past 20 years. Without ads, there would be no free content online.

But Jess Greenwood of the New York ad agency R/GA doubts the effectiveness of appealing to users' better nature."Given the option to do the right thing or the free thing," Greenwood told the panel at Cannes, "consumers will always choose the free thing."


Native advertising

But the most effective strategy to counter the ad blocking surge might be to produce ads that don't look like ads at all.

So-called "native advertising" has been growing in popularity over the past several years. Also known as "sponsored content," it looks and feels like editorial content, but it comes from advertisers rather than journalists.

Native advertisements can often pass through ad blocking filters because the filters don't recognize it as advertising. Many readers seem to be prefer this kind of content over traditional advertising, provided it's properly labeled, although there's no consensus on what constitutes proper labeling.

"The web can go"

But the real victims of the ad blocking surge may not be advertisers and publishers, but the "free" web itself.

The money to pay for content has to come from somewhere, and if you take advertising revenue out of the equation, readers will have to pick up the slack themselves, something they have historically been reluctant to do. Without ads, the web may be a poorer and less interesting place.

It's hard to blame anyone for wanting to opt out of the increasingly unpleasant experience of surfing an over-commercialized web, the consequences of those actions have perhaps not been fully realized.

"Things like the web can go," argues Johnny Ryan, author of the book, The History of the Internet and the Digital Future.

"It came from somewhere. It's a fragile thing. It's supported by advertising and if we don't fix it, it won't be around for that much longer."

Source:  http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/who-s-voting-trump-nostalgia-for-brittannia-ad-blockers-are-killing-the-internet-the-poet-who-hates-poetry-1.3649955/if-you-use-an-ad-blocker-you-re-killing-the-internet-an-ira-basen-documentary-1.3650007

Categorized in Online Research

It's hard to imagine a data-filled presentation of more than 200 slides being "eagerly anticipated." But each year since 1995 Mary Meeker, a partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has managed to get Silicon Valley salivating over her hefty annual presentations on the state of the internet.

Commentators call the release of the always expansive slide deck "a rite of summer" and hail Meeker as "the voice of internet progress." Her "famed" presentations are called "influential" and "fascinating."

Why? A respected analyst, Meeker's offers not only a feast of facts on the state of the web, but also prescient insights on where the industry is headed.

Her slidedecks might be incredibly informative, but they're not exactly light reading. If you've got the time to wade through the whole thing, here's the complete 2016 report, which she presented this week at the Code Conference in California. But thankfully, if you're looking to get at the essence of her talk in less time, a host of articles are out summarizing the key points of the presentation. I've rounded them up here.

(Or, if this is still too much reading for you, you can always just hope that advisor Terence Kawaja will boil the whole thing down into an epic three-minute, Eminem-style rap like he with did last year's report - video at the bottom of the post.)

1. Internet growth is slowing dramatically.

"Growth of internet users worldwide is essentially flat, and smartphone growth is slowing, too," reports Bloomberg's Lizette Chapman, summing up one of Meeker's main points.

What's behind this dramatic leveling off of growth? "Developing countries have proven harder to capture than expected because internet access remains inaccessible or unaffordable for many," explains the article.

2. Advertisers aren't spending enough on mobile.

Several commentators highlighted this as a key takeaway of Meeker's presentation. "Advertisers still aren't advertising on mobile nearly enough, Meeker argues. They're still committing too many of their dollars to so-called legacy media," says Wired, for instance.

"Meeker pegs the mobile ad market at $22 billion in the US, pointing to data that shows people spend 25 percent of their time on mobile devices compared to 36 percent watching television, 22 percent staring at the Internet on their desktops, 13 percent listening to radio, and 4 percent reading print. At the same time, spending on mobile ads only accounts for 12 percent of the total advertising pie," the article elaborates.

In his roundup of the 15 most important slides in Meeker's presentation, The Washington Post's Larry Downes puts this more succinctly: "Meeker estimates that advertiser inertia translates to under-spending on mobile to the tune of $22 billion."

3. Privacy concerns are "a ticking time bomb."

"Internet users are highly conflicted about the implicit exchange of free or subsidized content and services for personalized advertising. Use of ad blockers is rising fast, and 50 percent of all consumers report being 'very concerned' about how contextual information is used by Internet companies, even as they continue to provide more and more personal information to service providers," writes Downes.

"Without more aggressive self-policing by participants in the Internet ecosystem and consolidation of splintered and inconsistent privacy regulations both within the United States (the FCC vs. the FTC, for example) and abroad (the U.S. vs. the EU, for example), the innovation engine may seize," he warns.

4. Search is about to be revolutionized...

This is one of the top three takeaways of the talk highlighted by Recode: "Typing text into a search bar is so last year. In five years, at least 50 percent of all searches are going to be either images or speech."

5. ... and so are messaging apps

"The home screen has acted as the de facto portal on mobile devices since the arrival of the iPhone and even before. Messaging apps, with context and time, have a chance to rival the home screen as the go-to place for interaction," Recode also notes.

Downes, likewise, stresses that Meeker sees vast potential in messaging apps. "Even low-level text-based messaging platforms become key components in the new consumer-driven marketplace, if only through the sheer scale of their users and interactions. WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, has signed up a billion active users in just five years. Facebook's native Messenger, along with Tencent's WeChat (the dominant Chinese platform), are close behind," he explains, concluding:

"With that kind of momentum, disruptive new services are easy to launch. First give the users what they want, it turns out, and the revenue follows soon after. Simple text messages become group chats and then multi-user games, and, from there, banking and payment systems. It's amazing what you can do with a billion users deeply committed to your platform."

Source:  http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-5-key-takeaways-from-mary-meeker-s-annual-internet-trends-report.html

Categorized in Online Research

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Knowing the truth isn't enough sometimes.

You need academics to point out the obvious so that you can huff that, of course, their conclusions are obvious and then you go back to doing nothing about it.

This, therefore, is how you might react to research from the Future Work Centre, a group of psychologists who analyze how work is affecting you.

Thanks to technology, it's not affecting you well.

Indeed, these researchers suggest that the mere existence of the email system leads to enormous stress.

Dr. Richard MacKinnon, the lead author of the study, declared: "Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it's clear that it's a source of stress or frustration for many of us."

You knew that, of course. But what have you done about it? Nada, perhaps?

Consider this, then.

MacKinnon concluded: "The people who reported it [email] being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure. But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organizational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and well-being."

He's British. He was being nice. It isn't that it could be negatively impacting our well-being. It is.

You know that it is. You feel the mental burden every morning when you open your laptop or stare at your phone in bed and see that there are 50 or 60 emails demanding your eyes and mind.

Do you remember what it was like when you just woke up and wondered: "I wonder what today will bring?"

Now, today has already brought a ton of problems before you've even had a chance to brush your teeth.

There's a certain tragedy in reading MacKinnon's assertion that those who find email most useful feel the most pressure.

Indeed, he and his team found that the two worst habits are keeping your email app open all day and checking your email first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

It's in this area that researchers want you to stop and think. And even do.

They suggest switching your email off and opening it only when you actually have a positive reason to be using it.

But that requires effort and discipline. You're too weak to do that, aren't you? It's so hard when your bosses are workaholics -- either naturally or out of fear -- and expect you to be always "on."

Moreover, technology is often designed to hook you and keep you hooked. It's created the notion that you could be missing out on something very important, something that could affect your day, your week, or even your career.

We live with only one eye on our lives. The other eye is always on the lookout for, well, something else -- a problem, a danger, a demand, or even an opportunity.

And then we wonder that we're slowly going mad.

We begin to loathe our dependence on gadgets, even as we sit in a restaurant with our lovers completely ignoring them in favor of, oh, a work email.

One tiny light of hope emerged from this research. It was that the youngest people feel the most email stress.

Perhaps the older ones know how to handle it better because they know that 99 percent of all office communication is simply windbaggery and balderdash.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/emails-are-killing-you-researchers-say.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


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