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Use of search engines growing

The use of Internet search engines has become Net's second most used function, writes Deepak Mankar.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2005 19:25 IST

Have you heard of the poet, Fulke Greville (1554-1628), who served both Queen Elizabeth I (she knighted him as First Baron Lord Brooke) and King James I? In a rhyming elegy, he was charged with extreme penuriousness. Yet, ironically enough, he was also reputed to be munificent to contemporary writers. What amazes me about him is how accurately he describes the human condition in the first six line of his poem, Chorus Sacerdotum from the Tragedy of Mustapha: "Oh, wearisome condition of humanity, / Born under one law, to another bound; / Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity, / Created sick, commanded to be sound. / What meaneth nature by these diverse laws? / Passion and reason self-division cause." Do read the entire poem here: web-books.com. How could a courtier born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as the old cliché goes, be so devastatingly world-weary - almost like The Buddha? I simply cannot figure it out. Brief bio sketch:luminarium.org.

WIRED BUT HUMAN. Thanks to tags.

Writes Daniel Terdiman, Staff Writer, CNET News.com: "Flickr is a popular photo-sharing service that allows anyone to view most of the more than 50 million member-submitted images it hosts. Tags, meanwhile, are the searchable keywords the individuals can assign to either their own images or to those of nearly anyone else that say something about the information - the defining characteristic of Flickr and a growing number of other online services." He cites the words of Stewart Butterfield, Flickr's co-founder: "In Flickr, tags worked because they were fundamentally social. By agreeing on a tag in advance, users could collectively curate collections of photos in a dead simple way. Now we see people announcing at events, 'The tag for this is baychi05' and stuff like that." A simple idea with "enormous and complex" ramifications, apparently. Also: "For more than a decade, the primary way to categorize and find information on the Internet was through the automated algorithms of search engines, a process at once laborious and highly imprecise. Tagging has quickly gained popularity because it allows human beings to bring intuitive organization to what otherwise would be largely anonymous entries in an endless sea of data." techrepublic.com. For the previous coverage of tags in QuiteATake.com, please click here: hindustantimes.com. ('A 'MONSTER' FIND. Official Google blogs.')

E-MAIL AND SEARCH GROW. So does the Internet.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project's new report finds that the use of Internet search engines among Americans has climbed up dramatically in the past year. This makes it the Net's second most used function. On a typical day in the past year, says Lee Rainie, director, Pew Internet & American Life Project, search-engine use grew from 30% to 41% of the Internet-active population - a growing figure itself. "This means that the number of those using search engines on an average day jumped roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005". On a typical day, though, email use is still the top online activity. Around 52% of American Internet surfers are sending and receiving email, up from 45% in June 2004. It looks like "…the use of search engines is edging up on email as a primary internet activity on any given day." pewinternet.org.

WIRED CLASSIFIEDS. E-commerce, personally speaking.

In the US of A, 17% Generation Y people (18 to 28) are selling something online along with 26% wired adults (29 to 40). That's the find of another recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report downloadable at pewinternet.org. Craigslist.org is the leading classifieds website. The network that features ads for merchandise, apartment rentals, help wanted and more for free pulled 8.8 million visitors in September, compared to 3.4 million a year earlier - a clean sweep gain of 156%. Among the other ten top classified sites by traffic ranking them are Cars.com, Apartments.com, and Puppydogweb.com. On a typical day in September, 2% of Internet users were selling something, with the Craigslist.org network of classified-ad marts in 100 cities pulling nearly a third of the traffic, claims the Pew Internet & American Life Project report. Just last week, this column wrote about Google's entry in this ad space. hindustantimes.com. ('COVERING ALL BASES. Google Base now in beta.')

NEWMARK'S NEWEST. Soon in news too.

According to The Guardian, Craig Newmark who owns the No.1 classifieds network has journalistic ambitions. He told an Oxford University business school forum that his news project slated to start within three months will use a bottom-up approach to news stories and presentation. Readers will play the role of editors - deciding which news stories are the most important, as the do on Digg.com ("Once a story receives enough [votes] from [the site's visitors] it will be promoted to the front page"). "Things do need to change," he said. "The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to power. The White House press corps don't speak the truth ... they are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway." Read the latest coverage in the E&P article, 'Details Slowly Emerging in Newmark-Jarvis Venture':editorandpublisher.com.

LETTER TO VIRGINIA. From the Ho! Ho! Ho! man.

If you want to perpetuate the Santa Claus myth now that Christmas is approaching fast, here's your chance. You can get the 'original' Ho! Ho! Ho! man to write a personalized letter to your child or niece/nephew (personal stuff like the child's name, hometown, friends, teachers, coaches or other special people in his/her life strewn around liberally). It starts predictably enough with a - you guessed it! - loud 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'. It raises the child's expectations by mentioning how everyone at the North Pole is working really hard, how Rudolph and his mates are exercising strenuously to be in shape for the Big Night and how Mrs Claus has put him on a strict diet. There are exhortations galore about being a Good Child who does her mother's bidding - bolstered by the promise of a bribe ("a special gift from me for Christmas"). Too bad, this heavenly boon was not available in the times of Virginia. Just as well. The poor dear couldn't have afforded it. Because the catch is a stiff price tag of $9.95 a pop. Have a look anyway just as a curio. P.S.: One more proof Santa was spawned by a business person? http://scripts.gophercentral.com/santa/.

WHICH SEARCH ENGINE? And when?

Every surfer has her own preference in search engines. But, in the heart of her heart, she knows her favourite may not every time unfailingly deliver the results she is looking for. That's where the 'Which search engine when?' presentation by Phil Bradley philb.com can help her - and you. Other similar helpful stuff can be found atlibrary.albany.edu; and searchenginewatch.com. Phil Bradley also has a great directory of international search engines as well as practical articles on search on his website philb.com.

Those among you who are academically inclined or at least like to keep in touch with academia will be happy to learn that Directory of Online Access Journals doaj.org has 1727 such free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals according to the last count in June 2005, of which 473 are searchable at article level.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles athttp://www.asiaondemand.com/. Website:http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.

First Published: Dec 03, 2005 19:25 IST