Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“Free Information” Series – Visual & Aural

Streaming media dates back to the late 1800s with the advent of the wireless telegraph, followed by the wireless telephone, radio, and television. By the mid 1990s, the Internet was launched as the interconnected global network of networks, and the new vehicle for streaming media, connecting 1/3 of the Earth’s population, 2.2 billion users worldwide, to the 80 billion pages of content available to us today.  

Actors and musicians, film, television, radio and music producers alike have been forced to adapt and reinvent, in order to traverse the “free information” hurdles within their respective industries over the past two decades. Art, music and film, we traditionally paid for, is now streamed to our computer devices at work, at home, in our cars, and to our person as “free information”. 

Visual and aural content are the norm, part of the very landscape of our virtual marketplace. Websites and web footprints all now include not just textual components, but visuals and aural content in the form of: graphic artwork, photographs and images, sounds and music, video and animations. These rich images and sounds are the driving force, creating user attraction within our new online marketplace, the “internetwork”, or Internet, as most of us know it. Regardless of your respective industry, visual and aural content has become a regular part of the “business of business”, and powerful media for communicating your message and the products and services you offer, with more volume.

 “Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Like audible links, they are chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.” – Theodore Dreiser

Blog Reference:
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: Internet

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“Free Information” Series – Databases & Engines

As we continue exploring the Digital Marketplace and the 80 billion web pages of “free information” available to us today, a proper index of the online databases, references and search engines is an important starting point. Most of us stumble across new information each and every day, without any real concept of how much information is really available to us.

For this week’s blog, I wanted to provide a high-level snapshot of the (free & subscription-based) contents, the reference database and engine “table-of-contents” of our massive and universal online library. Obviously, my list is a partial listing (very much so), and will grow substantially in numbers before the end of the day. Each of the following eight categories provides a link to the listing, with individual links from the listings to over 15,000 specific reference databases and engines:    

General Directory – 13,678 online reference databases:

Academic Databases & Search Engines - 100s of online academic databases:

Encyclopedias – 100s of online encyclopedias:

Dictionaries – 30+ online dictionaries:

Digital Library Projects – 100s of online digital libraries:

Magazines – 100s of online magazine archives:

Newspapers – 1,000s of online newspaper archives:

Search Engines – 100s of search engines

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” – Tim Berners-Lee

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“Free Information” Series – Research & References

Research is the systematic investigation into our existing knowledge, and the search and discovery of new knowledge. Research is defined in many sectors including: artistic, business, economic, humanities, social and scientific. Simply defined; research is the process of identification and/or confirmation of facts for the purpose of solving existing or new problems.

The process of conducting research is broken into seven essential steps, as follows: 

  • Identification of research problem
  • Literature review
  • Specifying the purpose of research
  • Determine specific research questions or hypotheses
  • Data collection
  • Analyzing and interpreting the data
  • Reporting and evaluating research

The “literature review” and “collection of data” steps are dependent on references, not only the connection and link between objects, but access to explore and extrapolate viable information from physical and digital-born reference material. Traditionally, we have defined materials such as: dictionaries, encyclopedias, books of facts, and publications found in our library, all as references. With the advent of the Digital Marketplace (digitization, metadata tagging & search engines), research and references have evolved dramatically, with many benefits, and some caveats too.

We now have access to over 80 billion web pages of content, digital references available for use in research. While much of this information is “free”, a good proportion of this content is inaccurate, biased, speculative, and created for the purpose of marketing. Therefore, researching references in the Digital Marketplace requires even more discipline, diligence and scrutiny than our traditional research from authenticated publications and sources.

On the other hand, we now have access to 80 billion digital references through a couple of key-strokes, putting us in the unique driver-seat to learn and know more than ever before.  

 “My original concept was to provide a free encyclopedia for every single person in the world….in their own language.” – Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, “The Free Encyclopedia”.

Blog Reference:
Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia: Research

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

“Free Information” Series – Newspapers

On September 25, 1690, Benjamin Harris published the first American newspaper in Boston, MA. Harris’ PublickOccurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was considered controversial for its time in early America, and was quickly censured by government. Another 14 years would pass before newspapers became a regular vehicle for disseminating information.

By the 1970s, physical print newspapers had a readership of 123% of all American households. With the advent of 24-hour television channels, followed by the World Wide Web, that readership had declined to only 53% by the 1990s.  

On April 10, 1995, Joe Shea published the first Internet-based daily newspaper. Shea’s The American Reporter provides worldwide news coverage, and is owned by the journalists who write its content.

By the mid millennium (317-years after the first newspaper), there were 1,456 daily newspapers in print, selling 55 million copies a day, throughout America. And, 6,580 daily newspapers, selling 395 million daily copies, worldwide.

Today, almost all remaining newspapers now offer readers an online version of their paper: fee-based (per click) through a billable logon mechanism, or as “free information”. Many have discontinued physical print altogether, offering customizable print-based and Web-based models.

Traditionally, advertisers comprise 75% of newspaper revenues, with subscriptions and sales to readers at 25%. While the additional decline in subscriptions and sales has had a big impact on news providers, retaining advertising partners in the Digital Marketplace remains the key to long-term solvency.

“Newspapers cannot be defined by the second word—paper.  They’ve got to be defined by the first word—news.” - Arthur Sulzberg, Jr.

Blog Reference: