Blogging Is Big Business

More and more companies are starting blogs, and many people are even forming their entire companies around blogging. Customers really love blogs because they’re generally full of great (free) information, they offer a personal touch that generally isn’t found on a standard corporate website, and they’re not usually full of a lot of hype and hard sell tactics.

Another reason customers love blogs is that they offer a great medium for interaction. Visitors can leave comments and receive responses to their comments. This helps build loyalty to your blog and your company, and readers really enjoy this level of interaction with someone they consider an authority figure.

It helps them feel like they’re really being listened to, and like the company really cares about what they have to say – even if that “company” is an entrepreneur like you! Blogs are a fantastic way to build loyalty.

You can reach your audience in a very personal way, must more so than with a standard, stuffy stagnant website. Readers expect to see some personality coming out in a blog. If you really let your personality shine through, you can build a following that will subscribe to your RSS feed and come back often, eagerly waiting to hear more of what you have to say.

This is a great way to brand yourself and your business. Since you can get more personal with a blog, people start to get to know you a bit as a person. This makes you seem more real, and people begin to trust you and your messages more.

For some reason, people trust websites with identifiable people behind them.

Remember, when you’re blogging for business you should stay somewhat professional. It’s probably best not to post about your aunt’s cataract surgery or your grandma’s cat that died. You can get a bit personal – after all, that’s what really makes you stand out.

But most people who are reading your blog are there to find out information about the niche, seeking solutions to their needs. Keep your posts on topic, but get personal by providing your own voice within those entries.

Provide valuable information within your blog posts. People aren’t going to keep coming back to your blog over and over just to read about the new products you’re releasing, unless you’re releasing some really revolutionary stuff.

They’re going to want to read industry news, tips and tricks, special strategies, and other important information for free. While it’s perfectly fine to blog about new product releases, it’s also important to keep providing helpful information to keep your readers coming back.

Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that your readers are real people. You know what you enjoy reading in a blog, right? You want solid information – something useful. You probably don’t mind the occasional sales pitch on a blog full of great information, but you’d be pretty annoyed to reading nothing but pitch after pitch.

If you’re running a business blog, it’s important to keep your readers in mind. Give them the kind of quality information they’re hungry for, and they’ll keep coming back for more. In fact, the more you give them for free, the more loyal they’ll become, and the more likely they’ll be to buy from you in the future.

Blogging is all about informing and educating. If you can do that, your visitors will form a bond with you and they’ll be sure to spread the word about your blog so that your URL goes viral and it attracts an even bigger following within your niche.

Blogging can be very lucrative, not to mention it enhances your overall branding and networking on the ‘net. Here are the steps you need to take to get started RIGHT NOW:

1.) Pick a niche topic (my advice is to go narrow).
2.) Find a domain and buy it.
3.) Set up your WordPress blog using your Fantastico host.
4.) Pick a theme online – Google free WordPress themes and you’ll find millions you can upload.
5.) Set up your blog for categories, ad space, and stick an opt-in box in it to begin building a list.
6.) Start posting to your blog using keyword relevant titles and entries.
7.) Start bookmarking your blog and sharing that link to get it moving in the viral direction.
8.) Test the conversion of various products you promote on your blog and switch out those that aren’t working well for you.

 

Getting The Right Computer Software

Computer software is a vast term used to describe a collection of computer programmes, procedures and documentation that all perform tasks on a computer system. Computer software is the applications that we use on our computers such as office programmes and even windows itself. Computer software is any programme that we load onto and install on our computers.

Computer software is usually brought in CD format and is then installed onto our computers from this. Any new programmes etc that you buy for your computer can be classed as a form of software. Without software you wouldn’t get very far with the use of your computer.

When software is placed or opened on your computer it is loaded into the RAM and executed through the central processing unit (CPU) it is then available for you to use.

Software comes in three main types, the first being system software. This helps to run your computer hardware as well as your computer system. The second is programming software. This provides tools to assist programmers in writing computer programmes, such as text editors, compliers, interpreters and linkers. The last form of software is application software. This allows end users to accomplish one or more specific tasks. Typical applications include industrial, business, educational, medical databases and computer games; businesses being the biggest users of application software.

There are many avenues in which you go approach in order to buy computer software such as you can buy it new from retail stores; however many people find it difficult to find the exact software that they need from a retail store and often turn to buying software online.

The Internet in itself is a bigger competitive market. You have more chance of finding what you need by using the Internet. This applies to the purchasing of computer software. There are many Internet sites that primarily focus on the selling of computer software giving you more of a chance of finding what you want as well as giving you more choice of brands and the power of a software. It can also be cheaper if you buy it online as there are a number of good deals around that will enable that you get the most for your money.

One good site that appears on the Internet is called kelkoo. This site is a price comparison site specifically for computer parts and software. Again this demonstrates that by using the Internet you are more likely to get a good deal on the software that you purchase. Also the Internet can sometimes give you the option of online downloads meaning that you can purchase and download your product at any time and from anywhere in the world.

One thing that you need to be aware of however if you are hoping to use the Internet to purchase your software is fraud. In order to ensure that you are buying a genuine copy you should find out about the site that you are buying your software from or stick to retailers that you are aware of. This makes sure that you don’t spend money on something that could potentially harm your computer and that is also illegal.

 

How to Keep Your Computer Cool

When your computer is on, nearly all of its components become hot. Constant exposure to high temperature can cause serious damage to your computer.

Here is a list of ways in keeping your PC cool.

Check if your fans are running.

This is the first step when you find your computer overheating. Open the case, and then check if all fans are still working. If at least one is not working anymore, consider doing repairs or getting a replacement.

Regularly clean your computer.

It is essential to regularly clean your computer, especially the cooling fans. The fans attached inside the computer case is used for active cooling of the computer. Over time, dust and dirt can accumulate in these fans. The accumulated dirt can slow down or, in worse, stop fans from working. If fans fail in expelling the hot air fast enough, some internal parts will eventually overheat.

To clean your cooling fan:

1. Shut down your PC.

2. Open the computer case.

3. If there is excessive dirt inside the computer case, take out the computer fan.

4. You can use compressed air, small electronic vacuum or duster, or damp cloth in cleaning the fan.

5. If you use moisten cloth, make sure that the cooling fan is dry or there is no remaining moisture before connecting it again.

Clean other computer parts as well such as the monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Before cleaning any hardware component, make sure that your machine is turned off. Otherwise, your computer is susceptible to electrostatic discharge that can damage its parts and you are also prone to grounding yourself.

Before applying any cleaning procedures to hardware, make sure to check its manufacturer’s manual if they have provided you with the recommended instructions for cleaning or maintaining it.

Do not spray or spill any liquid directly into computer parts.

Do not limit the airflow around your computer.

Place your computer in a room that can provide sufficient air flow. Make sure that it is not sitting right next to other objects that prevent air circulation, like walls or other computers. There should be at least two to three inches of space on both sides. Since most of the hot air comes out from the air vent at the back end of the computer case, this part should be completely clear and open.

Move your computer to a cooler and cleaner environment.

Move your PC in a place with proper ventilation. It is important that the physical location will not contribute further heat to the computer. Make sure that your PC is not placed near a furnace, refrigerator, cooking appliances, and other things that can blow hot air or can transfer heat into your computer system.

To prevent your PC from overheating, it is advised to place it in an air-conditioned room.

Note: be careful when moving your computer in order to avoid damage to sensitive components inside it like the CPU, graphics card, hard drive, and motherboard.

Use your computer with the case closed.

It seems logical to let the case open while the computer is running to keep it cooler. This is true. However, dirt and dust will accumulate and clog the computer fans faster when the case is opened. This can cause the fans to slow down or fail at cooling your computer.

Upgrade your CPU fan.

The CPU is the most important component inside the computer. When you are running demanding applications, the CPU and graphics card induce more heat. It can get so hot that it can be cooked.

Consider purchasing a high-quality and larger CPU fan that can keep the CPU temperature lower than the pre-built CPU fan in your computer could.

Consider installing a component-specific fan.

If you have observed that the other components are overheating, install a component-specific fan to cool them down.

Consider installing a case fan.

This small fan can be attached to either the front or back of the computer case. There are two types of case fan: one that can draw cooler air into the case, and one that can expel warm air from the case. Installing both is a great way to cool your computer.

Turn off your computer when not in use.

A computer continues to produce heat as long as it running, even if you aren’t using it. If you will only have a few minutes of inactivity, at least set your computer to hibernation. Basically, it will also turn off your computer but the opened files and programs are stored on your hard disk.

Also, unplug external hardware of no longer use like printers and scanners.

Overheating can destroy and shorten the lifespan of components inside your computer. The major upside of keeping your computer cool is that it can help you avoid expensive repairs or unnecessary upgrades.

 

Don’t Shy Away From Special Education Programs For Your Child

If your child has special needs or a disability, special education may help your child succeed in school and in life. However, many parents fear that their child will be singled out for special education classes in a room separate from their classmates, so they avoid seeking out special education arrangements.

While this was the case at one time, current special education laws require schools to provide an educational environment that is as unrestrictive and equal for all children as possible.

Are you unsure whether your child qualifies for special education? Do you wonder if special education services would help your child succeed in school? The definitions of eligible disabilities have been greatly expanded to include learning disabilities and emotional challenges as well as physical disabilities.

Some of these definitions are set by the states, and the federal government decides some. Regardless of what type of disability your child has, special education is the best way to ensure that your child is getting the education that your child deserves.

Without special education services, your child may be at a disadvantage. Even with a caring and patient teacher, many children find themselves unable to keep up with their peers in the classroom.

Setting out a clear and fair special education plan will give you, your child and the school the assurance that appropriate measures are being taken on your child’s behalf in the classroom. These may include additional time with a teacher or special education facilitator, physical accommodations, or any other reasonable accommodation that the school is able to offer.

When seeking special education arrangements for your child, your first step will be to obtain an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for him. An IEP should be developed for each child with any disability and is the single most important piece of documentation in your quest for equal education for your child. It outlines goals and objectives for the student, along with a description of which accommodations will be necessary to facilitate those objectives.

The IEP process begins when you or your child’s teacher notice that the child is struggling in school. The concerned party will request a referral for special education services, which typically will result in an evaluation by a committee comprised of school faculty and you. The evaluation will determine whether your child’s disabilities interfere with his educational experience. If so, an IEP will be developed.

When the IEP is in place, your child will have access to the special education services covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, your child is entitled to an education equivalent to that of a child without disabilities in the least restrictive environment possible.

The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) mandate is the result of many years of studies. The conclusion of these studies was that special needs children are better served in the classroom with their peers than in a segregated classroom environment. The practices of pull-out programs, separate “special-ed” rooms, and the stigma of being a “special-ed kid” has changed radically in the past decade.

Children are now encouraged to flourish first in the regular classroom, with accommodations and modifications if necessary. If it becomes clear that this setup is not in the best interest of the child, the school or the parent may request a re-evaluation of the situation.

Recent studies have proven beyond a doubt that children with disabilities have more opportunities to thrive when they are educated in the same environment as non-disabled children. Observing and interacting with other children helps students with disabilities to maintain a sense of normalcy and develop their social skills. An inclusive classroom, one that includes special needs and non-special needs students, can also help the non-special needs students develop valuable social skills.

By taking down the barriers between disabled students and non-disabled students, IDEA has made the special education environment a more nurturing and beneficial place for your child to receive the education your child is entitled to. There is no longer any need to be nervous about the negative impact that special education will have on your child because the process has been refined to be as positive as possible.

The special education environment found in schools today is one that provides an improved learning experience for your child. With the help of supplemental support staff and special training for classroom teachers, your child’s school can provide the type of environment that makes it possible for him to thrive and to achieve all that your child is capable of achieving.

Scott Wasserman is a graduate of Harvard Law School with more than 22 years of legal experience. His law

 

Impacts of Information Technology on Society in the New Century

In the past few decades there has been a revolution in computing and communications, and all indications are that technological progress and use of information technology will continue at a rapid pace. Accompanying and supporting the dramatic increases in the power and use of new information technologies has been the declining cost of communications as a result of both technological improvements and increased competition. According to Moore’s law the processing power of microchips is doubling every 18 months. These advances present many significant opportunities but also pose major challenges. Today, innovations in information technology are having wide-ranging effects across numerous domains of society, and policy makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual property rights, privacy protection, and affordability of and access to information. Choices made now will have long lasting consequences, and attention must be paid to their social and economic impacts.

One of the most significant outcomes of the progress of information technology is probably electronic commerce over the Internet, a new way of conducting business. Though only a few years old, it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment. Already, it affects such large sectors as communications, finance and retail trade and might expand to areas such as education and health services. It implies the seamless application of information and communication technology along the entire value chain of a business that is conducted electronically.

The impacts of information technology and electronic commerce on business models, commerce, market structure, workplace, labour market, education, private life and society as a whole.

1. Business Models, Commerce and Market Structure

One important way in which information technology is affecting work is by reducing the importance of distance. In many industries, the geographic distribution of work is changing significantly. For instance, some software firms have found that they can overcome the tight local market for software engineers by sending projects to India or other nations where the wages are much lower. Furthermore, such arrangements can take advantage of the time differences so that critical projects can be worked on nearly around the clock. Firms can outsource their manufacturing to other nations and rely on telecommunications to keep marketing, R&D, and distribution teams in close contact with the manufacturing groups. Thus the technology can enable a finer division of labour among countries, which in turn affects the relative demand for various skills in each nation. The technology enables various types of work and employment to be decoupled from one another. Firms have greater freedom to locate their economic activities, creating greater competition among regions in infrastructure, labour, capital, and other resource markets. It also opens the door for regulatory arbitrage: firms can increasingly choose which tax authority and other regulations apply.

Computers and communication technologies also promote more market-like forms of production and distribution. An infrastructure of computing and communication technology, providing 24-hour access at low cost to almost any kind of price and product information desired by buyers, will reduce the informational barriers to efficient market operation. This infrastructure might also provide the means for effecting real-time transactions and make intermediaries such as sales clerks, stock brokers and travel agents, whose function is to provide an essential information link between buyers and sellers, redundant. Removal of intermediaries would reduce the costs in the production and distribution value chain. The information technologies have facilitated the evolution of enhanced mail order retailing, in which goods can be ordered quickly by using telephones or computer networks and then dispatched by suppliers through integrated transport companies that rely extensively on computers and communication technologies to control their operations. Nonphysical goods, such as software, can be shipped electronically, eliminating the entire transport channel. Payments can be done in new ways. The result is disintermediation throughout the distribution channel, with cost reduction, lower end-consumer prices, and higher profit margins.

The impact of information technology on the firms’ cost structure can be best illustrated on the electronic commerce example. The key areas of cost reduction when carrying out a sale via electronic commerce rather than in a traditional store involve physical establishment, order placement and execution, customer support, strong, inventory carrying, and distribution. Although setting up and maintaining an e-commerce web site might be expensive, it is certainly less expensive to maintain such a storefront than a physical one because it is always open, can be accessed by millions around the globe, and has few variable costs, so that it can scale up to meet the demand. By maintaining one ‘store’ instead of several, duplicate inventory costs are eliminated. In addition, e-commerce is very effective at reducing the costs of attracting new customers, because advertising is typically cheaper than for other media and more targeted. Moreover, the electronic interface allows e-commerce merchants to check that an order is internally consistent and that the order, receipt, and invoice match. Through e-commerce, firms are able to move much of their customer support on line so that customers can access databases or manuals directly. This significantly cuts costs while generally improving the quality of service. E-commerce shops require far fewer, but high-skilled, employees. E-commerce also permits savings in inventory carrying costs. The faster the input can be ordered and delivered, the less the need for a large inventory. The impact on costs associated with decreased inventories is most pronounced in industries where the product has a limited shelf life (e.g. bananas), is subject to fast technological obsolescence or price declines (e.g. computers), or where there is a rapid flow of new products (e.g. books, music). Although shipping costs can increase the cost of many products purchased via electronic commerce and add substantially to the final price, distribution costs are significantly reduced for digital products such as financial services, software, and travel, which are important e-commerce segments.

Although electronic commerce causes the disintermediation of some intermediaries, it creates greater dependency on others and also some entirely new intermediary functions. Among the intermediary services that could add costs to e-commerce transactions are advertising, secure online payment, and delivery. The relative ease of becoming an e-commerce merchant and setting up stores results in such a huge number of offerings that consumers can easily be overwhelmed. This increases the importance of using advertising to establish a brand name and thus generate consumer familiarity and trust. For new e-commerce start-ups, this process can be expensive and represents a significant transaction cost. The openness, global reach, and lack of physical clues that are inherent characteristics of e-commerce also make it vulnerable to fraud and thus increase certain costs for e-commerce merchants as compared to traditional stores. New techniques are being developed to protect the use of credit cards in e-commerce transactions, but the need for greater security and user verification leads to increased costs. A key feature of e-commerce is the convenience of having purchases delivered directly. In the case of tangibles, such as books, this incurs delivery costs, which cause prices to rise in most cases, thereby negating many of the savings associated with e-commerce and substantially adding to transaction costs.

With the Internet, e-commerce is rapidly expanding into a fast-moving, open global market with an ever-increasing number of participants. The open and global nature of e-commerce is likely to increase market size and change market structure, both in terms of the number and size of players and the way in which players compete on international markets. Digitized products can cross the border in real time, consumers can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and firms are increasingly faced with international online competition. The Internet is helping to enlarge existing markets by cutting through many of the distribution and marketing barriers that can prevent firms from gaining access to foreign markets. E-commerce lowers information and transaction costs for operating on overseas markets and provides a cheap and efficient way to strengthen customer-supplier relations. It also encourages companies to develop innovative ways of advertising, delivering and supporting their product and services. While e-commerce on the Internet offers the potential for global markets, certain factors, such as language, transport costs, local reputation, as well as differences in the cost and ease of access to networks, attenuate this potential to a greater or lesser extent.

2. Workplace and Labour Market

Computers and communication technologies allow individuals to communicate with one another in ways complementary to traditional face-to-face, telephonic, and written modes. They enable collaborative work involving distributed communities of actors who seldom, if ever, meet physically. These technologies utilize communication infrastructures that are both global and always up, thus enabling 24-hour activity and asynchronous as well as synchronous interactions among individuals, groups, and organizations. Social interaction in organizations will be affected by use of computers and communication technologies. Peer-to-peer relations across department lines will be enhanced through sharing of information and coordination of activities. Interaction between superiors and subordinates will become more tense because of social control issues raised by the use of computerized monitoring systems, but on the other hand, the use of e-mail will lower the barriers to communications across different status levels, resulting in more uninhibited communications between supervisor and subordinates.

That the importance of distance will be reduced by computers and communication technology also favours telecommuting, and thus, has implications for the residence patterns of the citizens. As workers find that they can do most of their work at home rather than in a centralized workplace, the demand for homes in climatically and physically attractive regions would increase. The consequences of such a shift in employment from the suburbs to more remote areas would be profound. Property values would rise in the favoured destinations and fall in the suburbs. Rural, historical, or charming aspects of life and the environment in the newly attractive areas would be threatened. Since most telecommuters would be among the better educated and higher paid, the demand in these areas for high-income and high-status services like gourmet restaurants and clothing boutiques would increase. Also would there be an expansion of services of all types, creating and expanding job opportunities for the local population.

By reducing the fixed cost of employment, widespread telecommuting should make it easier for individuals to work on flexible schedules, to work part time, to share jobs, or to hold two or more jobs simultaneously. Since changing employers would not necessarily require changing one’s place of residence, telecommuting should increase job mobility and speed career advancement. This increased flexibility might also reduce job stress and increase job satisfaction. Since job stress is a major factor governing health there may be additional benefits in the form of reduced health costs and mortality rates. On the other hand one might also argue that technologies, by expanding the number of different tasks that are expected of workers and the array of skills needed to perform these tasks, might speed up work and increase the level of stress and time pressure on workers.

A question that is more difficult to be answered is about the impacts that computers and communications might have on employment. The ability of computers and communications to perform routine tasks such as bookkeeping more rapidly than humans leads to concern that people will be replaced by computers and communications. The response to this argument is that even if computers and communications lead to the elimination of some workers, other jobs will be created, particularly for computer professionals, and that growth in output will increase overall employment. It is more likely that computers and communications will lead to changes in the types of workers needed for different occupations rather than to changes in total employment.

A number of industries are affected by electronic commerce. The distribution sector is directly affected, as e-commerce is a way of supplying and delivering goods and services. Other industries, indirectly affected, are those related to information and communication technology (the infrastructure that enables e-commerce), content-related industries (entertainment, software), transactions-related industries (financial sector, advertising, travel, transport). eCommerce might also create new markets or extend market reach beyond traditional borders. Enlarging the market will have a positive effect on jobs. Another important issue relates to inter linkages among activities affected by e-commerce. Expenditure for e-commerce-related intermediate goods and services will create jobs indirectly, on the basis of the volume of electronic transactions and their effect on prices, costs and productivity. The convergence of media, telecommunication and computing technologies is creating a new integrated supply chain for the production and delivery of multimedia and information content. Most of the employment related to e-commerce around the content industries and communication infrastructure such as the Internet.

Jobs are both created and destroyed by technology, trade, and organizational change. These processes also underlie changes in the skill composition of employment. Beyond the net employment gains or losses brought about by these factors, it is apparent that workers with different skill levels will be affected differently. E-commerce is certainly driving the demand for IT professionals but it also requires IT expertise to be coupled with strong business application skills, thereby generating demand for a flexible, multi-skilled work force. There is a growing need for increased integration of Internet front-end applications with enterprise operations, applications and back-end databases. Many of the IT skill requirements needed for Internet support can be met by low-paid IT workers who can deal with the organizational services needed for basic web page programming. However, wide area networks, competitive web sites, and complex network applications require much more skill than a platform-specific IT job. Since the skills required for e-commerce are rare and in high demand, e-commerce might accelerate the up skilling trend in many countries by requiring high-skilled computer scientists to replace low-skilled information clerks, cashiers and market salespersons.

3. Education

Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects. Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects.

Although distance learning has existed for some time, the Internet makes possible a large expansion in coverage and better delivery of instruction. Text can be combined with audio/ video, and students can interact in real time via e-mail and discussion groups. Such technical improvements coincide with a general demand for retraining by those who, due to work and family demands, cannot attend traditional courses. Distance learning via the Internet is likely to complement existing schools for children and university students, but it could have more of a substitution effect for continuing education programmes. For some degree programmes, high-prestige institutions could use their reputation to attract students who would otherwise attend a local facility. Owing to the Internet’s ease of access and convenience for distance learning, overall demand for such programmes will probably expand, leading to growth in this segment of e-commerce.

As shown in the previous section, high level skills are vital in a technology-based and knowledge intensive economy. Changes associated with rapid technological advances in industry have made continual upgrading of professional skills an economic necessity. The goal of lifelong learning can only be accomplished by reinforcing and adapting existing systems of learning, both in public and private sectors. The demand for education and training concerns the full range of modern technology. Information technologies are uniquely capable of providing ways to meet this demand. Online training via the Internet ranges from accessing self-study courses to complete electronic classrooms. These computer-based training programmes provide flexibility in skills acquisition and are more affordable and relevant than more traditional seminars and courses.

4. Private Life and Society

Increasing representation of a wide variety of content in digital form results in easier and cheaper duplication and distribution of information. This has a mixed effect on the provision of content. On the one hand, content can be distributed at a lower unit cost. On the other hand, distribution of content outside of channels that respect intellectual property rights can reduce the incentives of creators and distributors to produce and make content available in the first place. Information technology raises a host of questions about intellectual property protection and new tools and regulations have to be developed in order to solve this problem.

Many issues also surround free speech and regulation of content on the Internet, and there continue to be calls for mechanisms to control objectionable content. However it is very difficult to find a sensible solution. Dealing with indecent material involves understanding not only the views on such topics but also their evolution over time. Furthermore, the same technology that allows for content altering with respect to decency can be used to filter political speech and to restrict access to political material. Thus, if censorship does not appear to be an option, a possible solution might be labelling. The idea is that consumers will be better informed in their decisions to avoid objectionable content.

The rapid increase in computing and communications power has raised considerable concern about privacy both in the public and private sector. Decreases in the cost of data storage and information processing make it likely that it will become practicable for both government and private data-mining enterprises to collect detailed dossiers on all citizens. Nobody knows who currently collects data about individuals, how this data is used and shared or how this data might be misused. These concerns lower the consumers’ trust in online institutions and communication and, thus, inhibit the development of electronic commerce. A technological approach to protecting privacy might by cryptography although it might be claimed that cryptography presents a serious barrier to criminal investigations.

It is popular wisdom that people today suffer information overload. A lot of the information available on the Internet is incomplete and even incorrect. People spend more and more of their time absorbing irrelevant information just because it is available and they think they should know about it. Therefore, it must be studied how people assign credibility to the information they collect in order to invent and develop new credibility systems to help consumers to manage the information overload.

Technological progress inevitably creates dependence on technology. Indeed the creation of vital infrastructure ensures dependence on that infrastructure. As surely as the world is now dependent on its transport, telephone, and other infrastructures, it will be dependent on the emerging information infrastructure. Dependence on technology can bring risks. Failures in the technological infrastructure can cause the collapse of economic and social functionality. Blackouts of long-distance telephone service, credit data systems, and electronic funds transfer systems, and other such vital communications and information processing services would undoubtedly cause widespread economic disruption. However, it is probably impossible to avoid technological dependence. Therefore, what must be considered is the exposure brought from dependence on technologies with a recognizable probability of failure, no workable substitute at hand, and high costs as a result of failure.

The ongoing computing and communications revolution has numerous economic and social impacts on modern society and requires serious social science investigation in order to manage its risks and dangers. Such work would be valuable for both social policy and technology design. Decisions have to be taken carefully. Many choices being made now will be costly or difficult to modify in the future.