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Jasper Solander

Jasper Solander

One in four Americans don't have access to internet. Boggles the mind, doesn't it? The reason why some of us do not have access, according to ConnectHome, the public-private initiative responsible for addressing it, is a complex cocktail that boils down to the fact that providers don't go into poor areas because it doesn't pay well. This is one of the key issues behind the ongoing story of net neutrality.

Imagine if we didn't put water, plumbing or electricity in "poor areas?" We do because they are public utilities. If the United States Court of Appeals has its way, the Internet is going to join the necessity list (and about time, in my opinion).

Internet providers discriminate

Today's ruling against Internet providers by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that the Internet is a core service, like phone service, water or electricity, and so providers should not be allowed to discriminate Internet traffic. Just like we all should be able to drink clean water from any tap, you should be able to get good Internet no matter who or where you are. This opens the door further to ensuring all Americans get access to information.

Information is a modern necessity, not a nice to have

For many people, it's easier to go without water for a few hours than to stay away from the Internet. It's where you go to get your questions answered, to learn new subjects, to get your news, dive into work, and connect with friends and co-workers. The list of applications many people use daily, like Gmail, Slack, LinkedIn, Snapchat or Uber, is staggering--and only growing. That's why it's refreshing that a federal court just ruled that the Internet is a necessity, not a nice-to-have.

The weight of evidence is moving in this direction. The Federal Trade Commission reached that conclusion as well in its report this year:

When Americans increasingly rely on broadband for job opportunities, healthcare, education, public safety, and civic participation, but nearly 34 million Americans couldn't get high-speed fixed broadband even if they wanted it; when rural Americans are nearly ten times more likely than their urban peers to be bypassed by online opportunities; when 47 percent of our students don't have sufficient bandwidth at school to use the latest digital learning tools, we cannot say that we are meeting the standard Congress set forth. We have a moral and statutory obligation to do better.

Users shouldn't be limited in their pursuit of information

In the opinion against cable companies controlling Internet access and discriminating against traffic, the U.S. Court cited the threat, for example, that "a broadband provider like Comcast might limit its end-user subscribers' ability to access The New York Times website if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website, or it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access."

The Court also wrote in the opinion that by, "refusing to inquire into competitive conditions, it shunts broadband service onto the legal track suited to natural monopolies. Because that track provides little economic space for new firms seeking market entry or relatively small firms seeking expansion through innovations in business models or in technology, the Commission's decision has a decent chance of bringing about the conditions under which some (but by no means all) of its actions could be grounded--the prevalence of incurable monopoly."

The battle for Internet access

The battle for your access to the Internet, however, is far from over. According to The New York Times, AT&T immediately said it would fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Comcast, Verizon and other cable providers are expected to feel the same and protect their opportunity to keep your Internet access on their terms.

Souurce:  http://www.inc.com/lisa-calhoun/is-your-internet-a-necessity-or-a-nice-to-have-the-courts-verdict-is-in.html

Voice search usage is seeing unprecedented growth, with personal assistant devices leading the way. Columnist Wesley Young explores why this new medium is taking off, how it differs from keyword searches, and the challenges for local businesses to compete on yet another platform.

Since I noted Timothy Tuttle of Mindmeld’s LSA16 comments about the sudden increase in the volume of voice search queries, I’ve noticed an increasing number of articles on the subject. If the attention being given voice search is an indication of its anticipated impact on the marketplace, then it’s going to be a big deal.

The potential for voice search to become a major search medium is well illustrated by the number of slides Mary Meeker devotes to the topic in her annual Internet Trends report that was just released this month. Out of 213 slides, Mary included 23 slides on voice search. And while the numbers on voice search growth vary quite widely, they all agree on one trend: explosive growth.

Explosive growth and the reason behind it

At LSA 16, Tuttle shared that within one year (last year), the use of voice search went from a statistical zero to 10 percent of all search volume. That was huge. Yet more recent numbers show that growth accelerating — Google announced at I/O that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent, while Meeker’s charts show that in May 2016, 25 percent of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice searches.

Many explain the reason for voice technology’s growth is the improved rate at which voice commands are accurately captured. My personal experience with Siri a couple of years back was not a good one.

I started watching one of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies but couldn’t figure out where in the series it fell. So I asked Siri, “What order are the Bourne movies in?” Her reply: “You want to order a porn movie? Here are the 10 closest adult movie stores near you . . .” Fortunately, my wife heard my original query. But it illustrates the point — sometimes close isn’t good enough.

In 2013, Google’s platform had a word recognition accuracy rate of below 80 percent, according to Meeker’s figures. Just a couple of years later, that rate rose above 90 percent. Baidu now exceeds a 95-percent accuracy rate. Yet Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, stated that there is still significant improvement to make — that 99-percent accuracy is a game-changer. He believes 99 percent will make the difference between people barely using it and people using it all the time. At the current pace of improvement, we will get there soon.

Source: KPCB 2016 Internet Trends

A new player in search: Amazon

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the recent boom in voice-controlled personal assistants and search is Amazon. Whether it was planned or happened by pure luck, Amazon seems to have timed the release of Amazon Echo perfectly.

As Apple suffers due to the market saturation of smartphones and voice technology improvements are creating a new and satisfying user experience, the Echo’s voice-only interface distinguishes it from the vast sea of screen-based devices that have dominated the market.

It is estimated that in 2016, Apple will see a decline in sales of iPhones for the first time in a decade, while Amazon’s Echo sales are on the rise. Unit sales are still only a fraction of the sales of iPhones, but growth is impressive. In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon shipped about one million Echos, compared to Apple’s estimated 50 million iPhones, according to charts by Meeker.

However, that Amazon number reflects a year-over-year growth rate of about 150 percent. Amazon has over 300 million users. If the Echo gets adoption rates similar to the Kindle (both Fire and Reader), that could translate into total sales of approximately 168 million units. That’s not an unreasonable projection, given reports that the Echo is now outselling the Kindle.

How voice search is being used

And the ability to use voice recognition seems to uniquely satisfy a number of valuable consumer needs that would support continued use and growth of the medium.

Meeker cites a study that 61 percent of users state the primary reason they use voice is the utility of it when their hands or vision are occupied. What comes to mind immediately is use while driving. And yet, while a substantial number, 36 percent, said they primarily use voice commands in the car, 43 percent stated their primary use was at home.

Source: KPCB 2016 Internet Trends

Hound, a voice query app, found a fairly even split of voice query into four categories — Personal Assistant (27 percent), Fun and Entertainment (21 percent), General Information (30 percent) and Local Information (22 percent). Some of the functions performed in each category likely include the following examples:

Personal Assistant — Shopping lists; calendar events; appointment reminders; to do lists; making phone calls; online bookings; dictating and sending texts.

Fun and Entertainment — Listening to and buying music; interactive games and social media; searching and accessing video; sports schedules; TV listings.

General Information — Web search; recipes; news; banking and finance; travel.
Local Information – Restaurants; shopping; directions; home services; pizza; weather; reviews; local events; traffic.

Source: KPCB 2016 Internet Trends

Marketers will need to employ new strategies for local voice search

Given the growth of voice search, it has great potential to affect how local businesses are found. ComScore even estimates that by 2020, a full 50 percent of all searches will be by voice. While it won’t likely replace existing screen-based search, voice search will soon be enough of a factor that businesses need to understand strategies for being found by voice search.

And a significant portion of those strategies will be new: No one really has an existing SEO strategy for Amazon, so that will need to be understood and developed. Right now, Amazon’s Echo relies on “skills” — the equivalent of apps — to provide data which the Echo references for responses. For example, the Echo utilizes Yelp’s database for local service providers, retail and restaurants, as well as reviews in ranking and formulating its responses. As more skills are incorporated into Echo, it will become more and more complex for a business to optimize its profile and standing among all the various sources of information.

The number of skills in Amazon is small, but again, growth is impressive. At the beginning of the year, there were only 130 skills. Today, that number is over 1,000. Amazon doesn’t yet categorize or prioritize skills like other app stores, making them difficult to discover.

The Echo defaults to Bing for any general search query that is not covered by a skill, but that search experience is also relatively poor in its current form. It will be interesting to see if Amazon partners with Bing to improve general search. I assume it would be Bing, because it’s unlikely to be Google.

Voice search is different from keywords in a search box

Google isn’t likely to partner because it is developing a home-based personal assistant of its own, aptly named Google Home. Google clearly has an advantage in its unmatched aptitude and dominance in search. Yet even with its huge index that powers the best search query response on the planet, voice search will create new wrinkles in the process that may level the playing field to some degree.

The way individuals interact through voice search and queries is different from the way they interact with a search box. Because search queries are more conversational in natural language, they tend to be longer, more nuanced and reveal greater intent. For example, a user might type in keywords “a/c repair near me” but might tell a voice assistant, “There’s a burning smell coming from my outside Trane a/c condenser unit.”

It’s also easy to see how queries may no longer be “search-oriented” in the way we define it today but rather jump over search straight into a request for action. For example, instead of searching for pizza restaurants near me, you can now request Alexa (Echo) to order you a Large Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza with mushrooms and extra sauce and have it delivered to your house via the Domino’s Pizza skill.

Likewise, the natural progression for local search for service providers would be appointment-based. Instead of searching for electricians near me, the request might be a request for an appointment with the highest-rated local electrician who is available between noon and 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Both of these scenarios bypass traditional search and the opportunity for competitors to try and attract your attention through paid search ads, high ranking organic listings, or even adjacent listings in general browsing activity.

Amazon Echo’s focus on skills for access to content also will put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage compared to brands and franchises that have the scale to invest in developing content for the platform. Brands that have done so include Capital One, Uber, Domino’s, TechCrunch and NBC.

I’ve previously written about how it usually does not make sense for a local business to develop an app, and the same logic applies to Echo skills. However, my suggestion that local businesses optimize their presence on vertical sites that have apps is also a solution here.

For example, Kayak is integrated with the Echo, and users can find flight information, search for hotels and get price quotes for the travel industry. A local bed and breakfast is likely to see much more return by making sure its information on Kayak is comprehensive, accurate and optimized to be referenced within Kayak than by trying to build a skill on its own that would likely never be found or accessed by users of Echo.

Another example of voice search issues to be determined: What will be the SERP equivalent? How deep or how many providers will be mentioned or listed? Another issue: how do you make sure the personal assistant pronounces your name properly? Names can be tricky, and pronunciations that don’t match spellings can lead to your business not being recognized by the user or misidentified.

Future developments

Undoubtedly, other issues unique to voice will crop up, and it’s hard to anticipate what strategies might work best until voice search matures further and we see more data behind how people will utilize the technology. Others are also working on their versions of the technology with Facebook developing a personal assistant called “M” and Apple working on a standalone device for Siri, making it available to third-party developers and adding it to the Mac desktop experience in its next OS update.

However, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem: Just as the platforms are still working on making their service complete, consumers are still figuring out how to ask for what they want. Their queries will change as the services broaden and improve their offerings.

What we do know is that voice search will not mimic the search box. As more and more consumers turn to voice search, marketers will need to figure out how voice search queries and results differ from search engine results and help local businesses navigate the way through being found in results to being found in voice search.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/voice-search-explosion-will-change-local-search-251776

Qualitative plus Quantitative industry search. what method is best for market research? in order to identify distinctions for qualitative plus quantitative search techniques, learn the examples here which I have given by way of tales.

Rapidresponse Benefits Shops

Not so long ago there was a very prosperous shop, named “Rapidresponse shop”. At one time the managing staff started to be concerned that Rapidresponse shop was not becoming favored by as many ladies as males – and that Rapidresponse was shedding an important portion of the market place.

Investigation Goal

An investigation task was created to know exactly how ladies sensed regarding purchasing from Rapidresponse shop and also the reason why. It had been determined that this investigation must be qualitative and the specified strategy would be In-depth-Interviews. The notion was that these ladies may be less likely to want to speak about their feelings regarding Rapidresponse shops in a team, so one-on-one interviews made good sense.

Qualitative Research

More than four dozen present or prospective women clients were paid to come into the main premises to talk about the usage of grocery stores as a whole, and particularly Rapidresponse convenience stores. The outcomes had been very astonishing to the managing staff. The main qualitative results included the following:

Ladies thought of convenience stores to be mainly created for males, without thinking of women,

The restrooms in grocery stores were thought to-be the dirtiest that could be noticed in a town – “gross” was the most typical definition – and that belief penetrated anything that women felt regarding grocery stores as a whole

Rapidresponse ended up being viewed as one of the worst of convenience shops “type of the spot for any male purchase gasoline, have a six pack of affordable alcohol and also tobacco, yet not the type of spot I would like to head”.

Quantitative Research

As soon as the administration staff got an awareness of what problems they encountered with women clients, they felt that they required to know how generally these types of opinions were held. Now they required to obtain a few hard data, which implied that they required to perform a quantitative industry search. The research goals for this stage of research had been:

Learn how women clients of Rapidresponse are different from those that do not frequently go to these shops.Discover whether a repair of Rapidresponse may attract every team to go to the shops more often or perhaps anyway based on if the responder presently avoided Rapidresponce completely.

Concerning the quantitative stage of research they chose to perform 300 phone interviews with a mixture of women participants. The prerequisites to sign up in this stage of research had been: 50 percent of the participants claimed that they had utilized Rapidresponce at least seven times in the past 12 months, and the other 50 percent confessed to deliberately steering clear of Rapidresponse entirely, even though they did utilize other brands of convenience shops. The most important results from the quantitative stage revealed that:

More than 76% of all women Rapidresponse clients were ladies below thirty years old, with no kids, whilst females with kids along with higher earnings were five times not expected to buy at Rapidresponse.

The great report ended up being that of the women who didn’t right now utilize Rapidresponse, sixty four percent mentioned that if these shops were to modify their colors, wash their restrooms boost their health and female products, that they would be prepared to use Rapidresponse once again.

Their two levels of research provided the Rapidresponse administration staff an excellent comprehension of where they presently stood with feminine clients and also the reason why. The quantitative research furthermore revealed that those females who were not presently utilizing their shops might if they transformed their methods.

The choice now was to determine if getting a lot more middle aged ladies as clients was worth the price of upgrading their shops and also investing additional money to ensure that they’re neat and clean.

Source:  https://www.thesequitur.com/which-market-research-method-is-for-you-1286983/

The author of Bad Science will talk about the benefits of randomised trials in Birmingham todayEvidence-based research should be a key part of initial teacher training and ongoing CPD, a bestselling author and academic has suggested.

Dr Ben Goldacre, who is also a qualified doctor and campaigner, says it is “problematic” that initial teacher training does not dedicate at least a day to research-informed methods.At the Inspiring Leaders conference in Birmingham today, where TES is a media partner, the author of the book Bad Science will set out the value of randomised trials in measuring whether something works.

“I want to show that this method is really powerful in lots of different places,” the senior clinical research fellow at the University of Oxford told TES ahead of his session today.In 2013, Dr Goldacre published a report, commissioned by the Department for Education, which recommended the use of more randomised controlled trials in education.

'Huge amount can be achieved'

He said: “There are lots of good examples now. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) have done a really good job, but there is still a huge amount to be achieved.“It requires capital funding, changes to the way initial teacher training is run, and an institution to be set up to foster and support evidence-based research.”

School leaders from across the country are gathering in Birmingham for a three-day conference, which started yesterday, organised by the Association of School and College Leaders, the NAHT union and the Education Development Trust.

Dr Goldacre added:

"It is certainly problematic that initial teacher training doesn't always include a day or two on research methods, on the various tools we can use to find out whether interventions work."It is something they should have, and there should also be good CPD about research methods.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

Source:  https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/ben-goldacre-research-methods-should-play-a-larger-role-teacher


Two months ago Google began testing the color of its ‘Ad’ tag in Google AdWords ads — changing it from yellow to green. What was spoken of as being just a test at the time appears to have been a success, as Google is rolling out the green ‘ad’ tag label to all countries on all devices.

It’s interesting to note that during the time Google was testing the green ad tag color it was also testing the color of its organic links. For a period of time in May, users reported seeing black links in their Google search results instead of blue.


By the company’s own admission it is always testing the look and feel of it’s search results pages and we have seen several examples of that this year. Another test that is currently ongoing is a new minimalist look for search results that users have reported seeing from time to time.


Why The Change?

After following some of the chatter about this news, I couldn’t help but stop to think about this question raised by Brad Longman:



Brad Longman @BradDLongman
Green Ads rolling out, Better for the user or just an attempt to make Ad's look like organic listings? #adwords #seo
1:21 AM - 16 Jun 2016


According to Google, the change was made because of positive feedback from users and advertisers.

Could it be that ads that look less like ads are getting clicked on more? That’s one theory as to why advertisers are liking it more. As to why users like it more, well it could be that a matching green color is more aesthetically pleasing than the contrasting yellow ad tag.

If you’re not seeing the green ad tags yet, you soon will as they’re said to be rolling out to everyone.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-ad-tag-color-changed-green-color-url/166181/






Friday, 17 June 2016 07:27

Here Is the Good News

Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of filing for bankruptcy is the well-meaning condolence note from a friend. “I’m so sorry,” more than one has written. That sympathy is often followed by fear for what Facebook director Peter Thiel’s revenge campaign—a billionaire secretly funding lawsuits against publishers, editors, and writers for stories that disrespected him and his friends—means for the functioning of a critical press.

To those who have offered support, thank you. However, Gawker will be just fine, both in business and in spirit.

Here is the good news:

The future of the business is secured by a provisional sale agreement with Ziff Davis, and by our filing on Friday for Chapter 11 protection. The legal battle, separated from the ongoing business, moves onto the next round. The spirit that animates Gawker remains strong. The free press is vigorous. And the power of a shadowy billionaire looks much less alarming now that it has emerged blinking into the spotlight.

The Future of the Business

Gawker Media’s audience comes for the stories, and the default response of our writers when faced with a crisis is to write more. A thank you to them, and to all the readers who dropped by our sites on Friday, when news of the sale broke, to chat with our editors. Your participation is what makes Gawker’s sites communities as much as digital media brands. To the six million people around the world who each weekday come to Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel, and Gawker: As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep informing and engaging you around the issues you’re passionate about.

Around here, save for the kegs of beer that arrived early on Friday, it’s business as usual. Writers are writing, the tech folks are keeping the pages loading, the ad sales team is selling, the e-commerce scouts are finding you the best deals of the day. We appreciate the support that agencies and advertisers have already shown, whether it is motivated by Gawker’s enduring audience appeal or the principle at stake.

There may be other bidders before the sale is finalized, but if Ziff Davis is the ultimate acquirer, Gizmodo and the other Gawker brands will become part of one of the most profitable, revenue-balanced and well-managed of digital media groups. Ziff Davis, which owns the video game destination IGN, earned $92 million on revenue of $225 million in the last 12 months. The media operation, if combined, will have the biggest audience in two growing media categories, technology and video games, with a strong presence in lifestyle, too. Ziff Davis anticipates expansion in video, commerce and on social platforms.

I have long encouraged Gawker writers to be honest about the motives behind what they write, so I will be honest about mine: We believe a sale now will maximize value for all stakeholders, and it is important to that end that potential buyers, current employees, and advertisers understand that the business continues to operate as usual. The media market is consolidating, and there is significant interest in Gawker Media as the last sizable digital property that has not yet been folded into an established conglomerate. While most of the proceeds from other digital media deals have gone to financial investors, at Gawker Media Group, the founders and employees own the bulk of the equity in the company.

Yes, Peter Thiel’s covert legal vendetta has undoubtedly depressed Gawker Media Group’s valuation. His onslaught, prompted by items about Thiel and his friends on Gawker’s Valleywag, has been financially draining. Whoever buys us, it will not be for the sort of headline price that Henry Blodget or Arianna Huffington received when selling Business Insider to Axel Springer and Huffington Post to AOL. ​So be it.

Wherever it ends up, the purchase price will also reflect the editorial choices we have made. Nobody goes into the news business, certainly not the convention-breaking news we and our readers love, simply to get rich. Better to risk, to win some and lose some, than pursue the path of least offense—at least if you’re a journalist. We have always put editorial credibility ahead of short-term commercial considerations, resulting in what we have internally called the “Gawker Tax” on our advertising revenue.

That tax has generally been worth paying; it is a choice we made. It is because Gawker’s stories are transparently more honest and more real that we could grow without outside capital or bought traffic. It is why, overall, our sites have held audience levels in the face of well-funded competition and the shift to social platforms. And it is the reason we can present such an upscale and engaged audience to advertisers.

The proposition that journalism should be an honest conversation between writers and readers has permitted us to build a solid, even enviable, business: an award-winning native advertising studio; a commerce operation which will drive nearly $200 million in sales this year for partners; and the best news discussion system on the web. Without exceptional legal and professional fees related to the Thiel campaign, the business is profitable.

We have drawn and developed prodigious talent: Gizmodo editor-in-chief Katie Drummond, who came from Bloomberg and has invigorated the tech site’s coverage of Silicon Valley; the creative writers in our advertising department; sellers such as Michael Orell and Daniel Morgan who care about editorial quality as much as any writer; dedicated managers like executive managing editor Lacey Donohue and vice president of product Lauren Bertolini; the coders in our Budapest and New York offices; and a crack legal team (we have needed it) led by our president and general counsel Heather Dietrick, to pick a few people out of many at random.

Though our company is inevitably best known for Gawker’s most provocative stories, the other six brands—Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Jalopnik—represent the bulk of the audience and the revenue. They and all the exceptional people who make them happen will thrive under new ownership, with management oversight and financial underpinning from a larger company. As Wired put it: “They’ve got great niche audiences. They’ve got domain expertise. Their brands are easy to understand, which makes them easy to pitch to advertisers. Someone’s going to take those assets and make money.”

The Legal Balance of Power

In some countries, in a dispute between a magnate and an irritating writer, there would have been bullets in heads by now.

“The muzzle grows tighter,” writes the Economist. Freethinking Bangladeshi bloggers, many of them gay, are being dispatched with machete blows to the neck. The newly elected president of the Philippines has said that rights of free expression should not protect a bad journalist from assassination. Donald Trump, who kept a writer in court for five years after he dared write that the real estate billionaire was not as rich as he claimed, is a few percentage points away from the presidency.

But this is the United States, and Trump is not yet in power. We remain confident that justice will be done in the Hulk Hogan case.

March’s state court verdict was an outlier. Judges in federal court and the Florida appeals court have repeatedly determined the Hogan story was newsworthy because it joined a conversation about his sex life that the wrestling star had already begun. Most legal experts expect the $140 million judgment, which even plaintiffs’ lawyers ascribe to a runaway jury, to be corrected by a higher court. As a result, there ought to be little lasting effect on the balance between privacy and the free press.

There are two other active cases against Gawker in which we are being sued by Charles Harder, the attorney underwritten by Thiel. One is from a Los Angeles journalist who came to us with a story about Tinder that evidently didn’t turn out as she’d hoped. In the other complaint, a Massachusetts entrepreneur who claims he invented email—about a decade after email was invented—says he should not have been called a fraud.

Neither has merit.

U.S. law does still protect free speech more than any other country’s. If there is a threat, it is in the extent to which that law is increasingly a battleground of moneyed interests. As Gordon Crovitz argues in the Wall Street Journal, tort reform should be a cause for the progressive media, not just conservative business owners. Florida last year finally put in place provisions for unsuccessful plaintiffs to bear the costs of lawsuits designed to suppress public participation. Some would support a revival of champerty, the old English prohibition on aristocrats backing and influencing third-party lawsuits. At the very least, there should be public disclosure over who is funding cases in public courts that use public resources.

But reforms or no, the basic fact remains: if somebody raises a topic, you have the right to join in. Gawker Media Group has taken full advantage of that right.

The Spirit of Gawker.com

Some have raised doubts about the long-term future of Gawker.com, the site which has drawn the most fire over the years, because of its insolent tone, love of juicy gossip, and tendency to unearth skeletons. It would rather make an enemy or alienate a source than lose a story. The site has published an impressive list of scoops; it has also made many enemies, at least two of whom have combined in Peter Thiel’s cabal.

Do not fear—or gloat—too quickly.

Gawker.com was established in the early internet years as a thought-provoking alternative to a stodgy mainstream press, which so often skipped over precisely the most interesting aspect of a story—the version that journalists tell each other over a drink. The site has been a manifestation of the journalist’s rebellious id, the impulse to question the authorized version of the news, to puncture hype and mock hypocrisy.

The flagship news site’s incredible run of provocative journalism has revealed vile trolls on Reddit, crack-smoking mayors in Canada, Tom Cruise’s role in Scientology, the personal pain of unemployment, long-forgotten sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton’s emerging email scandal, and the ways the elite pass privilege down to their children, and their friends’ children. Here is a longer description of What Gawker Media Does. I hope that deep down, most other journalists would agree with Peter Kafka of Recode that the Gawker network has, stories about sex tapes notwithstanding, been “overwhelmingly a force for good.”

Where there is power, there will be gossip and criticism. The people require it. Bryan Goldberg of Bustle, himself a frequent subject of ridicule on the site, says Gawker.com is as indestructible as a New York cockroach. The brand is more famous than ever; if it does not fit an acquirer’s portfolio, Gawker.com will find an investor with a tolerance for controversy. I will happily contribute.

The Digital Press

The same independent and inquisitive spirit that animates Gawker is alive in the rest of the press. As Jonathan Mahler acknowledged in the New York Times, Gawker’s foundation has done more than any other “to loosen up the mainstream media.”

Over time, as bloggers and reporters have intermingled, the spontaneity of internet publishing has given a new energy to publications like the Times, and Gawker in turn has gladly embraced more of the practices and values of the newspaper press. Our writers and editor have adopted a formal editorial code. Gawker’s investigative reporters, under John Cook, who is now executive editor, have used FOIA requests to reveal how Hillary Clinton’s press minder manipulates journalists and twists arms, among many other exclusive stories.

Meanwhile, Gawker alumni are employed at almost every smart news organization, including New York Magazine, the New Yorker, New York Times, Vox, Wired and Business Insider. (Here is New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen recalling Gawker as “a great place to become a journalist.”) Two of the three new David Carr Fellows at the Times got their starts at Gawker. Slate now requires a triple disclosure just to write about the company.

As odd as it may seem under the circumstances, it is heartening to witness just how extensive and uncowed the recent coverage of Peter Thiel’s secret financing of lawsuits against Gawker has been. Witness Wired’s over-the-top praise for the sensitive billionaire, the Taiwanese animators’ depiction of the him as an insecure supervillain, or the Economist’s jibe that he risks evolving from youthful genius to aging crank, his pursuit of immortality notwithstanding.

The recent spasm of disbelief and outrage over the revelation that his lawyer is now pursuing us over a much-lauded story about Trump’s hair—“a perfect example of the kind of chilling effect Gawker critics don’t seem to have taken into account when championing Hogan and Thiel’s victories,” the Verge writes—goes to show how Thiel’s strategy might have backfired. The next aggrieved billionaire may think twice before following his template.

We have a free and vigorous press to credit for uncovering the real motives of Gawker’s opponents. The purpose of Hulk Hogan’s initial lawsuit, to stop a racist rant becoming public, is now known, thanks in large part to media companies who asked the appeals court to remedy the trial court’s overly broad sealing of documents in the case. That Thiel’s role is also now public is thanks to a mixture of gossip, speculation, and reporting—the classic iterative process by which journalists, Gawker’s especially, winkle out a story.

Billionaire Power

None of this is to gloss over the enormous concentration of power among the emerging oligarchy. Silicon Valley industrialists are ruthlessly controlling of their public image, as Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair. “The system here has been molded to effectively prevent reporters from asking tough questions. It’s a game of access, and if you don’t play it carefully, you may pay sorely.” The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou had to withstand months of legal threats to dispel the mystique surrounding Theranos, a fallen Valley unicorn.

Mother Jones has drawn attention to the campaign by another billionaire, Frank VanderSloot, who sought to drain them financially through litigation. Thiel has shown how easily an aggrieved billionaire can hide behind fronts, dark money and special purpose vehicles. These cases have illuminated the concentration of privilege and money in American life, and the power exercised behind the scenes without any public accountability.

The history of democracy—a form of governance that Thiel views as incompatible with liberty—can be viewed as a long-running street battle between the moneyed elite and the more populist institutions, like the press, that seek to keep them in check. The battle lines shift up and back, but the insistent presence of public debate and criticism have always served as a bulwark against rampaging power. Now, those age-old tensions are playing out on the internet. The rules of engagement will need to once again be rewritten. I hope the clash between Gawker and Thiel will produce at least as much light as it has heat.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes calls from the extremely rich to “not only be able to use their money without limit to shape the political process but to do so anonymously to avoid being ‘intimidated’ or ‘vilified.’” That the debate is happening at all is progress. If Gawker had to give up its independence for it to begin in earnest, at least the upstarts who come behind us will have a clearer understanding of the playing field, and the stakes.

If you take a long view, the system is working as it should. The courts will apply the law. The real story is coming out. It always does. All sides are facing criticism and examining themselves. And a debate about the limits of the free press, and the limits of unaccountable power, is taking place.

Peter Thiel will be, by the time the magazine profiles come out and the TV scripts turn into episodes, one of the classic characters of the Silicon Age. This is the ultimate Gawker story, a collision between power, celebrity, and the word. Only this time we are participants as well as observers.

We will each be caricatured, for sure; but we will also have plenty of opportunity to express our more provocative ideas. This is how a free society is supposed to work. A newly laid-back Jezebel has adopted an informal catchphrase, “It’s Fine.” To those who have written in with concern for our people, our business, and our mission, I have a similar response. It’s fine.

Source:  http://gawker.com/here-is-the-good-news-1781980613

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/

A major underground marketplace acting like an eBay for criminals is selling access to more than 70,000 compromised servers allowing buyers to carry out widespread cyberattacks around the world, security experts said on Wednesday.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, a global computer security firm based in Moscow, said the online forum appears to be run by a Russian speaking group. It offers access to hacked computers owned by governments, companies and universities in 173 countries, unbeknownst to the servers' legitimate owners.

Access goes for as little as $6 for a compromised server. Each comes pre-equipped with a variety of software to mount denial-of-service attacks on other networks, launch spam campaigns, illicitly manufacture bitcoin currency or compromise online or retail payment systems, the researchers said.

Starting at $7, buyers can gain access to government servers in several countries, including interior and foreign ministries, commerce departments and several town halls, said Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky's research and analysis team.

He said the market might also be used to exploit hundreds of millions of old, stolen email credentials reported in recent months to be circulating in the criminal underground.

"Stolen credentials are just one aspect of the cybercrime business," Raiu told Reuters in an interview. "In reality, there is a lot more going on in the underground. These things are all interconnected."

The marketplace goes by the name xDedic. Dedic is short for dedicated, a term used in Russian online forums for a computer under remote control of a hacker and available for use by other parties.

XDedic connects sellers of compromised servers with criminal buyers.

The market's owners take a 5 percent up-front fee on all money put into trading accounts, Raiu said.

Kaspersky found the machines run remote desktop software widely used by network administrators to provide technical support for Microsoft Windows users. Access to servers with high capacity network connections may cost up to $15.

Low prices, searchable feature lists that advertise attack capabilities, together with services to protect illicit users from becoming detected attract buyers from entry-level cybercriminals to state-sponsored espionage groups.

An unnamed Internet service provider in Europe alerted Kaspersky to the existence of xDedic, Raiu said.

High-profile targets include a U.S. aerospace firm, banks in the United States, Philippines, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Ghana, Cyprus, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, chemical firms in Singapore and Thailand and oil companies in China and the United Arab Emirates, Kaspersky found.

Raiu declined to name the organizations. He said Kaspersky has notified national computer emergency response teams in several countries.

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/15/cybercrime-market-sells-servers-to-launch-attacks.html

Thursday, 16 June 2016 02:45

How *Real* Online Research Works

Warning: if you are going to argue a point about politics, medicine, animal care, or gun control, then you had better take the time to make your argument legit. You can't copy-paste wikipedia links or spend ten seconds with Google and think you have a winning argument.


Legitimate research is called RE-search for a reason: only through repetitive filtering and patient sifting will you achieve the depth of understanding that a controversial topic deserves.


There are over 100 billion web pages published, and most of those pages are not worth quoting. To successfully sift it all, you must use consistent and reliable filtering methods. You will need patience to see the full breadth of writing on any single topic. And you will need your critical thinking skills to disbelieve anything until it is intelligently validated.


If you are a student, or if you are seeking serious medical, professional, or historical information, definitely heed these 8 suggested steps to researching online:



1. Decide if the Topic Is 'Hard Research', 'Soft Research', or Both.

'Hard' and 'soft' research have different expectations of data and proof. You should know the hard or soft nature of your topic to point your search strategy where it will yield the most reliable research results.


A) 'Hard research' describes scientific and objective research, where proven facts, figures, statistics, and measurable evidence are absolutely critical. In hard research, the credibility of every resource must be able to withstand intense scrutiny.


B) 'Soft research' describes topics that are more subjective, cultural, and opinion-based. Soft research sources will be less scrutinized by the readers.


C) Combined soft and hard research requires the most work, because this hybrid topic broadens your search requirements. Not only do you need to find hard facts and figures, but you will need to debate against very strong opinions to make your case. Politics and international economy topics are the biggest examples of hybrid research.

Here are examples of hard vs. soft Internet research. ..

2. Choose Which Online Authorities Are Suitable for Your Research Topic.

A) Hard research topics require hard facts and academically-respected evidence. An opinion blog will not cut it; you will need to find publications by scholars, experts, and professionals with credentials. The Invisible Web will often be important for hard research. Accordingly, here are possible content areas for your hard research topic:


Academic journals (e.g. a list of academic search engines here).

Government publications (e.g. Google's 'Uncle Sam' search).

Government authorities (e.g. the NHTSA)

Scientific and medical content, sanctioned by known authorites (e.g. Scirus.com).

Non-government websites that are NOT influenced by advertising and obvious sponsorship e.g. Consumer Watch)

Archived news (e.g. Internet Archive)


B) Soft research topics are often about collating the opinions of respected online writers. Many soft research authorities are not academics, but rather writers who have practical experience in their field. Soft research usually means the following sources:


Blogs, including personal opinion blogs and amateur writer blogs (e.g. ConsumerReports, UK politics).

Forums and discussion sites (e.g. Police discussion forum)

Consumer product review sites (e.g. ZDnet, Epinions).

Commercial sites that are advertising-driven (e.g. About.com)

Tech and computer sites (e.g.Overclock.net).

3. Use Different Search Engines and Keywords

Now comes the primary legwork: using different search engines and using 3-5 keyword combinations. Patient and constant adjusting of your keywords are key here.


Firstly, start with broad initial researching at Internet Public Library, DuckDuckGo, Clusty/Yippy, Wikipedia, and Mahalo. This will give you a broad sense of what categories and related topics are out there, and give you possible directions to aim your research.

Secondly, narrow and deepen your Visible Web searching with Google and Ask.com. Once you have experimented with combinations of 3 to 5 different keywords, these 3 search engines will deepen the results pools for your keywords.

Thirdly, go beyond Google, for Invisble Web (Deep Web) searching. Because Invisible Web pages are not spidered by Google, you'll need to be patient and use slower and more specific search engines like:
Scirus (for scientific searching)

Internet Archive (to backwards-search past current events)
Advanced Clusty Searching (meta searching specific parts of the Internet)
Surfwax (much more knowledge-focused and much less commerce-driven than Google)
US Government Library of Congress


4. Bookmark and Stockpile Possible Good Content.

While this step is simple, this is the second-slowest part of the whole process: this is where we gather all the possible ingredients into organized piles, which we sift through later. Here is the suggested routine for bookmarking pages:


CTRL-Click the interesting search engine result links. This will spawn a new tab page each time you CTRL-Click.

When you have 3 or 4 new tabs, quickly browse them and do an initial assessment on their credibility.
Bookmark any tabs you consider credible on first glance.

Close the tabs.

Repeat with the next batch of links.
This method, after about 45 minutes, will have yielded you dozens of bookmarks to sift through.

5. Filter and Validate the Content.

This is the slowest step of all: vetting and filtering which content is legitimate, and which is drivelous trash. If you are doing hard research, this is also the most important step of all, because your resources MUST withstand close examination later.


Carefully consider the author/source, and the date of publication. Is the author an authority with professional credentials, or someone who is peddling their wares and trying to sell you a book? Is the page undated, or unusually old? Does the page have its own domain name (e.g. honda.com, e.g. gov.co.uk), or is it some deep and obscure page buried at MySpace?

Be suspicious of personal web pages, and any commercial pages that have a shoddy, amateurish presentation. Spelling errors, grammar errors, poor formatting, cheesy advertising on the side, absurd fonts, too many blinking emoticons... these are all red flags that the author is not a serious resource, and does not care about the quality of their publishing.

Be suspicious of scientific or medical pages that display scientific or medical advertising. For example: if you are researching veterinarian advice, be wary if the veterinarian web page displays blatant advertising for dog medicine or pet food. Advertising can possibly indicate a conflict of interest or hidden agenda behind the writer's content.

Be suspicious of any ranting, overstating, overly-positive, or overly-negative commentary. If the author insists on ranting and crying foul, or conversely seems to shower excessive praise, that could be a red flag that there is dishonesty and fraudulent motivations behind the writing.

Commercial consumer websites can be good resources, but be skeptical of every comment you read. Just because 7 people rave that Pet Food X is good for their dogs does not necessarily mean it is good for your dog. Similarly, if 5 people out of 600 complain about a particular vendor, that doesn't mean the vendor is necessarily bad. Be patient, be skeptical, and be slow to form an opinion.

Use your intuition if something seems amiss with the web page. Perhaps the author is just a little too positive, or seems a little too closed to other opinions. Maybe the author uses profanity, name-calling, or insults to try to make his point. The formatting of the page might seem childlike and haphazard. Or you get the sense that the author is trying to sell you something. If you get any subconcious sense that there is something not quite right about the web page, then trust your intuition.

Use Google 'link:' feature to see the 'backlinks' for a page. This technique will list incoming hyperlinks from the major websites that recommend the web page of interest. These backlinks will give you an indicator how much respect the author has earned around the Internet. Simply go to google and enter 'link:www.(the web page's address)' to see the backlinks listed.


6. Make a Final Decision on Which Argument You Now Support.

After spending a few hours researching, your initial opinion may have changed. Maybe you are relieved, maybe you are more afraid, maybe you've just learned something and opened your mind that much more. Whichever it is, you will need to have an informed opinion if you are about to publish a report or thesis for your professor.


If you have a new opinion, you might have to redo your research (or re-sift your existing research bookmarks) in order to collate facts that support your new opinion and thesis statement.

7. Quote and Cite the Content.

While there is not a single universal standard for citing (acknowledging) quotes from the Internet, the Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association are two very respected citing methods:


Here is an example MLA citation:

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. The Internet Classics Archive.

Web Atomic and Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
13 Sept. 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2008. ‹http://classics.mit.edu/›.
Here is a sample APA citation:


Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A
List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149.
Retrieved from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writeliving
More details: how to cite Internet references.


More details: The Purdue University Owl Guide explains both of these citing methods in detail:

The MLA citing method
The APA citing method

Remember: DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. You must either directly quote the author, or rewrite and summarize the content (along with appropriate citing). But to restate the author's words as your own is illegal, and will get you a failing mark on your thesis or paper.


8. Choose a Research-Friendly Web Browser

Researching is repetitive and slow. You will want a tool that supports many open pages, and easily backtracks through previous pages. A good research-friendly Web browser offers:


Multiple tab pages open simultaneously.
Bookmarks/favorites that are fast and easy to manage.
Page history that is easy to recall.

Loads pages quickly for your computer's memory size.
Of the many choices in 2014, the best research browsers are Chrome and Firefox, followed by Opera. IE10 is also a competent browser, but try the previous 3 choices for their speed and memory economy.

9. Good Luck with Your Internet Researching!

Yes, it's re-searching....the slow and repetitive method of sifting good information from the bad. It should feel slow because it's about diligence and skeptical hard questioning. But keep your attitude positive, and enjoy the discovery process. While 90% of what you read you will discard, take pleasure in how funny (and how idiotic) some internet content is, and put your CTRL-Click tabs and your bookmark/favorites to good use.


Be patient, be skeptical, be curious, and be slow to form an opinion!


Source:  http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/navigatingthenet/tp/How-to-Properly-Research-Online.htm

Under Europe's "Right to be Forgotten" law, citizens there can petition Internet search providers such as Google to remove search results linked to personal information that is negative or defamatory. In many cases, these links lead to information about accusations of criminal activity or financial difficulties, which may be "delisted" if the information is erroneous or no longer relevant. 

But "gone" doesn't always mean "forgotten," according to a new study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, NYU Shanghai, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

"The Right to Be Forgotten has been largely working and is responding to legitimate privacy concerns of many Europeans," said New York University Professor Keith Ross. "Our research shows, however, that a third-party, such as a transparency activist or a private investigator, can discover many delisted links and determine the names of the people who requested the delistings." Ross, the Leonard J. Shustek Professor of Computer Science at NYU Tandon and dean of engineering and computer science at NYU Shanghai, led the research team, which included Professor of Computer Science Virgilio Almeida and doctoral students Evandro Cunha and Gabriel Magno, all of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and Minhui Xue, a doctoral student at NYU Shanghai.

They focused only on requests to delist content from mass media sites such as online newspapers and broadcast outlets. Although the law requires search engines to delist search links, it does not require newspaper articles and other source material to be removed from the Internet.

A hacker faces a fairly low bar if he or she knows a particular URL has been delisted. Of 283 delisted URLs used in the study, the authors successfully determined the names of the requesters in 103 cases.

But the authors also demonstrated that a hacker can prevail even when the URL is unknown, by downloading media articles about topics most commonly associated with delisting, including sexual assault and financial misconduct; extracting the names from the articles; then sending multiple queries to a European Google search site to see if the articles were delisted.

The researchers estimate that a third party could potentially determine 30 to 40 percent of the delisted mass-media URLs, along with the names of the people who made the delisting requests. Such hackers do exist and have published the names of people who requested delisting, thereby opening them to even more public scrutiny - the so-called "Streisand effect," a phenomenon, named for the reclusive star, whereby an attempt to hide a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.

Their results show that the law has fundamental technical flaws that could compromise its effectiveness in the future.

Demographic analysis revealed that the majority of requesters were men, ages 20-40, and most were ordinary citizens, not celebrities. In accordance with the law, Google delisted links for persons who were wrongfully charged, acquitted, or who finished serving their sentences, among other privacy issues.

The researchers believe that defenses to these privacy attacks are limited. One possible defense would be for Google to never display the delisted URL in its search results. (Currently, Jane Doe's delisted robbery article would not show up when her name is used in a search, but would do so if the name of the bank were searched, for example.) This defense is not only a strong form of censorship, but can also be partially circumvented, they said.

A French data protection authority recently ordered Google to delist links from all of its properties including Google.com, in addition to its search engines with European suffixes. Google has so far refused, and the dispute is likely to end up in European courts. "Even if this law is extended throughout all of the Google search properties, the potential for such attacks will be unchanged and they will continue to be effective," said Almeida of the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

The researchers noted that they will never publicly share the names discovered in association with their analysis. They informed Google of the research results. 

Source:  http://phys.org/news/2016-06-weak-europe-forgotten-privacy-law.html 

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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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