How to get more from your time online: Unlocking the Internet’s wealth of information
The Internet is full of information, ideas, offers and opportunities. Regardless of your interests, desires or aspirations, there’s something or someone online that can meet your needs. That’s hardly surprising given the amount of information out there. Although it’s not easy to calculate just how much data there is online, you can get a sense of scale just by looking at the storage space taken up by Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.
Between them, these four companies store more than 1,200 petabytes of data. To break that down even further, that’s 1.2 million terabytes or 1,200,000,000 gigabytes of information. Unsurprisingly, this number is increasing all the time. Moreover, it doesn’t include data held by all the other websites, servers and services out there. So, while it may not be possible to get a true estimate of how much data there is online, we can say for certain that it’s a lot.
Developing a strategy to find what you need
In many ways, there’s too much information for any one person to make sense or use of. However, with some tips and tricks, it’s easy to home in on the things most relevant to you. In much the same way you can employ certain strategies to get the perfect bikini body, you can use certain tools to get the most from the internet. Of course, you won’t have to break a sweat by doing crunches or skipping. You will, however, have to give your index finger a bit of a workout. But, if you use the right resources, it shouldn’t take more than a few clicks to find anything and everything you’re searching for.
The obvious tools at your disposal are search engines. Google is the leading search engine but it’s not the only one. Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and others will all help you pick out websites that relate to certain queries. Although today’s search engines use artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret requests and understand inferences and unwritten meaning, it’s always worth being as specific as possible.
All websites that want to be ranked by Google try to incorporate keywords into their pages. These are basically words or phrases that have relevance to the topic you’re searching for. Moreover, they’re words that appear most in searches for said topic.
As Google points out in its guide to searches, you should use keywords to find the best information online. Try the obvious first. If you want to know about Cambridge University, type “Cambridge University” rather than “universities” or “colleges”. To narrow down the results, you can add modifiers. For example, if you want to know what the smallest college within Cambridge University is, you’d type “smallest Cambridge University” or “smallest college Cambridge University”.
Personalise your searches to create the internet you want
Another way to sift through the masses of data online is comparison sites. Also known as review sites, these platforms have become much more sophisticated in recent years. When the first comparison sites emerged out of the retail and insurance industries, the content was fairly general. In other words, the sites would simply compare the latest products without much context or specificity. Today, however, things are different. Not only have almost all industries embraced comparison sites, but the overviews are also a lot more tailored. And if you’re in dire need of information about something that you love, and do not have time to waste on searching for relevant customer reviews, then web scraper APIs like Zenscrape are a good solution. For example, online gaming has become a $50 billion+ global industry since the late nineties.
Today, there are even platforms that will not only rate the best new online casinos but give readers the chance to filter and sort the results. Through dropdown menus that allow searches to be carried out via ratings, deposit methods and recently added reviews, users can tailor the results to the site. From there, they can scroll through snapshots of each operator’s latest offers or read in-depth reviews.
The same is true for a site like Money Supermarket. Users can compare prices and products across different industries, including insurance, energy and travel. Inside the insurance category, for example, readers can narrow down their searches by looking at “young drivers’ insurance” or “breakdown cover”. From there, they have the option to input their details and review offers relevant to their personal circumstances.
The final way to navigate the often-murky waters of the internet is social media. Even though this can be a subjective way to find information, it’s no less useful. On a general level, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube allow you to connect with people from around the world. These people have different ideas, interests and perspectives, all of which can be useful and informative.
What you’ll also notice is that social media platforms also make suggestions and connect you to people with similar interests. Whether it’s an advert based on the cookies collected by the platform you’re using, a suggested post or video, the ecosystems created by social media tap into your interests and, in theory, make your experience better.
The upshot of all of this is that it’s actually fairly easy to find things you like online. Through a combination of personal input, activity and some clever technology working in the background, your online experience can be what you want it to be.
In fact, as things such as AI become more sophisticated, there will be even more ways to enhance your time online and make full use of the internet’s wealth of information.
The editorial unit