Information, Interactivity, Interoperability and Advertising in the digital environment.

The transformation of our behavior and methods of work into digital processes was possible due to the invention of the World Wide Web. Improved by technological development that enabled the users to easily access web content, it became the Web 2.0, also known as the “participatory web”.

Platforms such as Facebook and Google+ allowed the creation of communities that share interests and interact differently from the traditional social organizations.

The large amount of information that we produce and software we use are no longer stored on servers or hard drives but they are hosted by companies that we refer as “in the cloud”.

However, making the information available in the cloud might not be entirely useful if we could not access it from our different devices. A high level of “interoperability” (Palfrey and Gasser, 2012) is the answer to the demand that expects their devices interact each other by sharing data and running software.

The easy access to information on the web, the possibility of online interaction and the interoperability brought benefits since their combination produces a more efficient flow of information through interconnected systems, communities and devices.  That increases people and businesses’ productivity, streamlines processes and promotes creativity.

On the other hand, the digital era also introduced challenges such as the excess of information to be managed, the concerns about personal safety on the social media and the risk of losing security and privacy in the interoperable systems. Besides, users’ data are traded by companies such as Facebook and Google so the advertisers can match their products to the right audience.

The development of more effective and safer ways of managing the information, the transparency of the design of the social media and the optimization of the interoperability are expected improvements for the web in a near future.

Who is tracking your Web surfing?

Are you curious about what happens behind your Internet surfing?

If so, take a look at the graph below that shows a twenty-minute internet session on the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Lightbeam picture_cropped

It is a screenshot obtained using the add-on Lightbeam, which records both the visited websites and the third-party websites that were tracking this internet navigation. The numbers revealed that, after visiting 14 websites, 276 third-party websites were following the online search. If you also record your internet session, you can see the name of the third party websites by hovering the mouse pointer  over their symbols or clicking on the list, available on the left bar.

If you look at the symbols, the circles represent the visited websites and the triangles, the third-party websites, which were tracking the session. They are serving companies that recruit advertisers and manage the ads for the publishers.

The purple lines represent the tracking cookies, which can be stored for third-party sites to serve advertising material embedded in commercial sites, keeping information such as the visited websites and the viewed products. For example, when you press the Facebook like button in a website, it might set a third-party cookie that can be read by Facebook. That will make it possible for the advertiser to retrieve the cookie information when you are visiting another site with related advertisement, served from the same third-party site.

This digital arrangement may bring concerns about security, but, as cookies are small text files, they cannot execute files, scan your computer or find your personal information in your hard disk. They just work as keys to enable the websites to recognize you as a returning visitor and offer you customized pages. If you don’t want this kind of service, you can disable your browse for cookies and remove the permanent ones from the hard disk.

Despite this clarification about the role of the cookies, it’s important to remember that they indirectly provide to external parties information about your behavior, interests, and lifestyle. So, always be sure you are on a safe internet connection and be careful about the reliability of the websites you are visiting. Remember the graph shared on this post and look for a balance between the freedom to surf on the Internet and how much you would like to be noticed in this increasing digital world.

10 tips for a more effective Google search.

The Google search engine has become part of our routine so that we frequently use it to check facts, data,  unknown subjects, and  historical information. As the process of online search is user friendly, it’s common that people just enter the words related to the subject they want to know about and don’t take some time to learn about the tools that would make their search more effective. Here are some tips that will take you to more precise results:

  1. Searching for an exact word or phrase.

When searching for an exact word or phrase, remember to enclose them in quotation marks and in the exact order you would like it to appear on the results. Putting the phrase in quotation marks makes Google consider them as a single entry so that unwanted pages in which the words are written separated or in a different order won’t appear in the results. For example, you should write “like a rolling stone” if you are searching for this exact phrase.

Once you reach a specific webpage, you can search for a word by pressing, at the same time, the ctrl and F  keys (Windows) or command and  F (Mac). A text box will appear so that you can enter the word you are looking for.

2.  Searching for something in a specific site.

The operator site: is very useful to restrict the results to a specific domain or website . For example, if one is interested in getting information about the profession of physiotherapist on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he/she could type physiotherapist site:bls.gov. Make sure that there is no space between the operator and the website or domain.

3. Searching for a definition.

If you don’t know the meaning of a word, a quick way to find it is to use the function Define followed by the word. It will give you its definition.

e.g. Define interoperability

4.  Searching for a specific product within a specific price range.

A combination of the symbols $ and period (.) can bring the results for the product within the wanted price range. For example, laptop $300..$400

5. Searching for a specific filetype.

Another operator that filters results is the filetype. You should use it to download different kinds of documents. For example, filetype:kml marco polo will bring only results on Google Earth about this subject. Other example: filetype:pdf william shakespeare will bring content about  Shakespeare in pdf documents.

6. Including or ignoring words in your search.

You can exclude words from your search by putting a dash before the word you don’t want to appear in the results. It is useful when the same word has several meanings such as cats (animals) and cats (musical). So,   if  the     search     is    about    the    musical,   it    could     be     written   cats -animals. That will restrict the results given and allow better filtering.

To include words, you can use the operator OR, written in capital letters, between the words. Then, the pages that will appear in the results contain one of the words.

7. Finding sites/pages similar to an existing one.

When you know a web address and want to find sites/pages similar to it, you can use the operator related: .  As an example, to find similar sites to flowers.com, you can write related:flowers.com.

8. Confirming an exact form of a quote even if you were missing some of the words.

In this case, you can substitute the terms you forgot by the symbol *. You might check the famous Einstein’s quote by writing God does not play * with the *.

9. Searching for pages containing two connected words.

The operator intext: is useful when you search for pages that contain the query and a connected term. As an example, to find information about Canada’s birds that migrate to Mexico, a person could type “Canada’s migratory birds” intext:Mexico.

10. Searching for social media content containing a specific tag.

Using the symbol # with the term will help you to find the topic on social media. So, by typing #bluejays, one can check the news/posts about the Toronto’s baseball team on the different social media.

By adopting these methods, you will optimize your searches, getting more accurate results and saving time. In other words, you can use Google as a tool to help you to complete your researches more efficiently,  for academical or professional purposes.

3 practices that will help you stand out on social media.

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, there are many people who still don’t know how to leverage online tools. If you are among this group, you might be unaware that, even if you are not an active user, people can still access some of your information online. So, if you think it’s high time to improve  your digital life, you should read the following practices.

3. Choose good profile pictures

Even with the existing privacy settings, you don’t have any control over your friends’ and followers’ devices. So, despite not all platforms requiring professional pictures, you should be careful of the kind of photos you post, as they will appear not only in your profile but also in other people’s timelines.

2. Choose the right communities and be pro-active

To improve your network and connect with the right audience for your products or kind of interests, join strong communities in various social media platforms whose discussions bring high level content and add knowledge for you. Make sure you are really engaged in the discussions. By replying the comments or starting new subjects, you are sharing your thoughts and making yourself visible to the others in addition to building your own online brand.

  1. Be yourself

Selling a good image of ourselves doesn’t mean we need to create a different online persona. So, don’t try to impress people with unrealistic information about yourself – you never know when you’ll meet them in person.

All of these practices are the beginning of the work you need to do to build your image on the internet. And if  you want to understand a bit more about the different platforms,  this explanation by Professor Jerry Kane is a good source to start:

Stay tuned for more good practices to have a successful digital life.