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3.1.1Choices, Co-ordination and Priorities

The whole information market or information chain should be all about choices: choices with regard to the way you want to exchange (i.e. distribute or obtain) information, the media you wish to use to do this, the interface that is to be used, and last but not least the subject(s) about which you'd like to exchange information.
The current Internet is also about choices, but from a different nature as the ones we just saw; a publisher, instead of making choices about which information and which services to offer to its clients, is forced to decide about such things as which Web browser version should be used, which Push medium to use, etcetera. Consumers and users of information, on the other hand, have to deal with comparable problems in that they are pushed to frequently upgrade their browsers and install all kinds of additional applications if they want to be able to use the latest services and content. In short: all too often, both users and suppliers are conforming to the technique and the media, whereas the ideal situation would be just the other way around.
A number of projects and initiatives - undertaken by both academic as well as commercial organisations - are currently investigating ways to improve the information exchange process (e.g. by making it more flexible). An example of products that are meant to do this are search engine extensions; these extensions make a search engine's result list more manageable by automatically aggregating results into logical categories which are adjusted on the fly, or they offer the ability to view results via a map-style interface. Another example of such improvements are tools that make it easier for publishers and other content providers to easily add meta-data to their content.

Although these are the first steps in the right direction, there still are two important elements missing in this set-up: co-ordination and putting priorities where they belong. Or put differently: let each party focus on what it is best at and enable it to delegate the remaining tasks to others where and whenever possible.
To illustrate what is currently wrong with the co-ordination of the whole information process, let us take a look at a practise in which both many suppliers as well as many consumers are engaged. To attract as many attention as possible, suppliers are advertising the information and services they offer to as many search engines as is possible. And - as surveys show us - these efforts do not go unrewarded;

"Nearly 48 percent of a cross-section of over 1,500 website owners polled depend on search engine listings for the majority of their traffic, averaging 26,000 visitors per month. Over 70 percent of all websites generate at least 20 percent of their traffic from search engine listings, with the balance coming from advertising and other forms of promotion, repeat visitors and other sources. The survey data emphasizes the importance and value of website search engine submissions, which cost the website owner pennies per visitor, less than any other form of website promotion."
information taken from a study of the importance of top search engine listings
to generate website traffic, as conducted by NetGambit

What's more: many programs and commercial web sites are available on the Internet which will register a site's content to numerous search engines and other, similar services. In the same time 'counterparts' of these programs and services are available for consumers (such as client-side 'meta-crawler' applications which send one query in parallel to numerous search engines, after which the program retrieves, filters and aggregates the results for the user), undoing most or all of the supplier's efforts.
This example also illustrates how priorities are not set right: the supplier has to guess which search engines a consumer might be querying, i.e. to which search engines his site should be advertised in order to reach a consumer. A consumer, in turn, has to guess which search engines should be best used in order to find (all or at least most) of the information about a certain topic or subject. Apart from that, both parties have to guess which keywords to use to either describe what is being offered or to describe what is being sought. Both parties are not particularly good at both tasks (leading to predictable results) and trying to do it better would take up a lot of their valuable time. Time which they should have better spent to maintain and enhance their proper knowledge and strong points (i.e. their core activities).

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Chapter 3 - From Internet to Online Market Place "Desperately Seeking: Helping Hands and Human Touch" -
by Björn Hermans