Information on the Web
According to a 2016 United Nations Study on Global Information and Communications Technologies:
- 3.5 billion people or 47 % of the world's population uses the Internet
- In the U.S. about two thirds of households have Internet access
- 7 billion people or 95% of the global population live in an area that is covered by a mobile-cellular network
It is clear that more and more people are not only using the Internet, but relying on it for all aspects of our lives from work to play and everything in between. According to the website, Internet Live Stats, every second online we collectively:
- send out over 9,000 tweets
- upload more than 1000 Instagram photos
- place over 4,500 Skype calls
- conduct more than 95,000 GB of Internet Traffic
- watch over 84,000 YouTube videos
- send more than 2.9 million emails (of which ~67% is Spam!)
As essential as the Internet has become to our daily lives, we are still learning how to become savvy consumers of online information as all the recent controversies over fake news has brought home to us.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when you are looking for information on the Web:
- Information on the Web is not screened or edited. Since anyone can publish a Web page, the type and quality of material varies greatly.
- The Web has no overriding organizational scheme or structure.
- The vast majority of online content has a commercial purpose vs an educational or scientific one.
- Unlike most electronic databases, there is no indexing by topic or subject for billions of Web pages.
- Although some information on the Web is "free" (i.e., it can be accessed without restrictions, passwords, fees, etc.), many resources on the Web require subscriptions. For example, some newspapers only allow free access to selected articles and require registration and payment for the entire issue.
- Anybody can put anything on the Web—and they do! Evaluate the information you find online carefully.
Another way to think about the Web is to imagine that it is an immense, world-wide flea market. If you take some time and are persistent, you will find some real gems of information at the Web flea market, but you may have to sift through a lot of junk first.