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A Look at Online Information Today

Mar 11, 2008
The internet is a vast highway of ever changing word traffic and there is almost an insatiable demand for content. Once you log on in the morning and download your emails you now have the rest of the world at your fingertips. You can look up an Australian or South African search engine and find out what is hot in the Southern Hemisphere then zip over to Italy or Spain or the Sudan.

You are not restricted to any single source of data and you can probably find a positive and negative article for just about any subject you care to name. This has far reaching consequences for those of you who wish to employ the internet for research. In the pre-net days of going to the library to gather up specifications, or root around for some advice the authors name inscribed upon the book would be your recommendation that the volume was authentic. With the net, the copyrights to articles can be purchased from freelance writers for a few dollars and a website can pass the article off as its own. A disclaimer always accompanies the information. But how do you know if the writer is an expert in that field?

Quality companies tend to be picky about the articles printed under their name. They usually have in-house experts that go over the content before allowing it to appear as part of the corporate communication to their public. Nothing kills reputation like an article based on thumb suck and flummery. It throws the whole credibility of the site under suspicion. Twenty first century people resent fudging-the-facts journalism especially when it applies to their desire to gain knowledge. People object to spin doctoring and valid decent sites are responding by ensuring their writers produce competent work.

Often we are told that web readers have a short attention span so articles cannot be in depth. This is a myth. Grown out of rumor and hearsay. Have you ever gone onto a travel site? Pages and pages of articles, well written, covering all aspects of the subject presented. How about sites covering essential oils? Yes there are those flippant and frothy pages but in the main organizations take care to detail important information. The vast subject of health products is another arena where thousands of people are accessing data via the telephone line or more modernly wireless equipment. The more knowledgeable a nation the better. Many people recognize this and consequently the probing for truth continues.

Opinion Leaders
When starting out in your search for quality sites a useful place to start is sites of, or suggested by, opinion leaders have spent many years building their brand and will fiercely protect it - Patrick Holford in nutrition, Oprah on life skills, Dr Phil etc. You can be assured that any information issued under their endorsement is perused before release. These are global personalities and their information influences millions of people daily. In addition to their offerings seek out your own local opinion leaders. Web pages authorized by them will provide you with usable information for a closer-to-home perspective.

Advertising and Websites.
Income from advertisers is an eagerly desired commodity. On the plus side, if the site is generating traffic which attracts advertising revenue that keeps the site alive. You benefit by having access to a great site. On the negative side, the site will do everything possible to retain the advertiser. When using sites that do not have well known personalities to recommend them, tread carefully. Once you have decided on a few sites then spend time visiting them. Have a look at their stable of advertisers. If on an organic gardening site the pop-ups all contain the name of a chemical company then proceed with caution. If fifty percent of the sites revenue is coming from advertising a company whose profits come from poisons then you have a conflict. The editorial on the site will be tempered towards not offending the advertiser and you will find yourself slowly sucked into thinking it is alright if you use a bit of the triple skull-and-crossbones product.

Similarly with heath sites. Companies which advocate products at odds with the health industry - aspartame, M.S.G., caffeine, etc. often have huge advertising budgets. As their biggest critics are the health and nutrition sector, Aspartame and Co. turn their attention to their oppositions advertising division and dangle a carrot. Some are tempted. At that moment they begin to compromise their integrity. Health and aspartame are poor bedfellows no matter what the ra-ra-ra mouth piece says. Beware of websites that have conflicting messages. Editorial content should always be accurate and cognizant of advertising revenues.

Forums
This is an excellent resource. Especially if it is dedicated to a certain topic like Staffordshire Bull Terriers or cleaning hints or Dutch remedies (folk medicine). Surfing the net will reveal organizations and groups coming together under a common banner. They exchange information, discuss problems and come up with solutions. These sites are useful as there is a great deal of practical advice contained in the text. Forums are loaded with posted questions and the resultant replies, presenting you with a parcel of data directly pertinent to your quest.

Subscribing to newsletters is another way of getting valuable data for nothing. Newsletters are well written, packed with data and can be stored in a folder to be read again and again. Only select reputable web sites that care about their name and how they are represented. Subscribe to several different ones to see which best suits you then de-register yourself from those that do not.

The Internet is a modern marvel. A wealth of information at your beck and call. An asset that your grandparents could only dream about. You have an electronic magic carpet in your midst. By using it wisely and exercising good judgment when accessing data you can pick all the plums while skirting the sunken rocks.
About the Author
J.D. Carr is co-founder of GotWebMojo.com, a free community, training, and online solutions company specializing in assisting artists, musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs. To join for free, visit GotWebMojo.com .
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