Tracking Informaton
on Today's
Internet

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On September 12th 2013 United Airlines’ website offered flights for 0.00 USD. Only taxes and fees were charged, caused by a computer glitch that occurred during the set-up of new prices within the booking system. During a one hour period many users obtained round trip tickets for almost nothing. The news about this "special offer" spread quickly on Twitter and Facebook. Everyone notified on time saved a lot of money on his or her next US vacation. Have you bought one of these cheap tickets?

In 2010 a famous magazine revealed that a well-known market research company monitored an Internet forum for patients with mental illness. The monitoring was carried out on behalf of a client in the pharmaceutical industry looking for insights about the use of pharmaceutical products. Every active user of the forum became subject of a marketing study - without being asked. Would you have posted on this forum if you knew how easy your comments could be monitored?

These two examples express the value of information, especially for those in control of the material. Everybody with access to the right information at the right time can save or earn a lot of money. Everybody who doesn’t understand how to use the data on the Internet quickly falls victim of those who perform better.

Social networks, wikis, blogs, forums, news portals, search engines, comparison portals, business directories and many other services provide valuable information. In the private sector the Internet influences how we access products and services, entertainment and information. In the business world digital information is an important resource for companies and employees. But it’s not the service that is valuable. Rather, it is the content. Services just help us find, evaluate and use this content. This applies to the private and professional environment. The collection, analysis and processing of digital content is - and will be even more in the future – of growing importance for everybody.

Wherever possible, experienced users - private and commercial – let the Internet do the work. Why shouldn’t you too have the Internet automatically look for specific information, do research, save content online, execute recurring tasks and deliver information? In short: Let the Internet work for you! A lot of tools needed for the automation of the web are available free of charge. Everybody who knows how to make use of them – within what is legally permissible – enjoys a competitive advantage. And maybe, more importantly, can protect themselves against abuse.

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© 2014 Dirk Stähler