It is quite hard to understand why anyone would bother to ask (sometimes silly) questions these days when answers lie within the tips of our fingers – literally. Back in the day, we used to have the ordained task of trekking to school or public libraries, or in some cases, rely on the (often egoistic) local nerd to help answer questions and grasp difficult concepts.
Most don’t realize it, but we carry information boxes via our smartphones and tablets daily. And while it is easy to get bombarded by misinformation and what a current western administration has coined as ‘fake news’, it is important to be able to identify credible sources when conducting research or looking for quick answers.
A quick and ill-prepared online search for a diagnosis, for instance, can lead to you discovering that you only have three days to live, or worse yet, uncover an imminent evil ploy to destroy the world and have us living underground or under the ocean.
Not all such theories are far-fetched as soon we will be seeing flying cars and man-manned drones such as the EHANG 184.
One entrenched source of information that we subconsciously consume daily is social media. Thanks to the advent of and availability of the Internet, news, and information can now travel within milliseconds. People now tune into local news broadcasts only to get things that are specific to their area as everything else is instantaneously available and ‘mobile’.
And whether rumour of fact, these quick news snippets get the mind ticking and prompts further research into more credible sources. Football clubs, politicians and musicians alike are all actively using them to break new signings, announce new albums or push new policy or campaign objectives. In addition, most, if not all companies, banks governmental institutions and even religious organizations – all have a presence some way or another on social media and use it to promote their brands or agenda.
So, you see, ignoring the news and social media completely these days is the equivalent of retreating to a cabin in the woods or cave, and shutting oneself completely from family and the rest of the world – which though not a bad thing to do, as one often gets overly bombarded by information, but at the rate of progression in technology and information dissemination, skipping a week can leave one feeling as though you just stepped out of the stone ages!
So, if you do indeed need to catch up to reality (and yes, this IS a new reality), here is a quick guide to the mainstream information sources that can be used as starting points for research:
Google: the biggest search engine and while it generates more results (quickly than other search engines such as the now ailing Yahoo or Microsoft’s Bing) – it also can carry a lot of misinformation. Google specifically has great features such as the voice-activated ‘Ask Google’ feature (available on all Android-based smartphones for non-exclusive Apple Siri users), that is quite responsive and good if you cant bother typing but want voice activated quick responses – like the latest football scores, the next flight to Tokyo or the latest stock price of Oil or Bitcoin.
Wikipedia: always a quick reference guide (which is commonly used here), but bear in mind that these are put together by individuals so while fairly accurate, it should be subject to some scrutiny especially when it comes to dates and events. It, however, gets reviewed/verified regularly and is therefore still quite a practical ‘go-to’ source for quick facts. Be wary of the usage of short ‘Wikis’ though.
Investopedia: for credible and simple to understand finance-related terms concepts on the go along with related news and great blogs – they even have a great simulated stock trading game that I used to enjoy. It is a favourite of deBunQed and helps to ´debunk´ some complex terms like ´shorting of a stock´ or financial derivatives.
Popular Social Media sources:
Twitter: it is quick, instant and addictive to some (no names mentioned). It is the best platform to announce and inform and share information quickly via PCs, tablets, and smartphones – often before mainstream can media can break it. It’s very common for news anchors to quote the tweet handle of a politician or celebrity when delivering news these days.
Facebook: Launched as the first real (public) social media platform to connect university and college peers, it has grown to be the one source of finding old flames, colleagues, family and even criminals! It was even allegedly used as a source for political campaigns and meddling with outcomes of a certain major presidential election. It has, since its inception in 2004, been a place where many applications such gaming application developer Zynga have made millions by capitalizing on the sheer numbers of users – which are estimated at over 900 million! It also has its use other than being just a source of news and gossip as a large marketplace to sell things, send instant messages (with video-calling) and provide security alerts in times of terror attacks and natural disasters.
LinkedIn: an important but often overlooked source of company information, recruitment, and career building website that though looks like Facebook at times is more career-oriented and often a great source for recruiters to head-hunt the best talents globally – it gives you an extra leg-up and has a nifty feature to let you quickly convert your hopefully well put together profile into a well-structured PDFed CV! So useful, that it was acquired by Microsoft late last year – a powerful resource for their CRM solutions to be able to track companies and the decision-makers to sell products to.
Instagram: has become a lot more than a place to post pictures of your dog´s gourmet dinner or just upload a cool picture that captures your mood or special moment or holiday trip. This picture-based app has a fully-fledged marketing engine backed up by hashtags like Twitter and has become a necessary tool for both, individuals and businesses and of course, celebrities (due to uptake by so-called celebrities like Kim Kardashian). It has also taken over, in terms of popularity, the likes of similar older picture sharing platforms such as Photobucket or Flickr.
WhatsApp: is also owned by Facebook (if you didn’t know). This phone and now desktop-based app got its edge from taking over the old SMS function from mobile operators. People don’t send SMSes anymore – and if they do, it’s usually because their phones are too old too! Blackberry (R.I.P) started this idea with the BBM Messenger – but like others that tried and failed using exclusivity, not everyone wanted a Blackberry just to use it. In came WhatsApp and using the mobile phone number rather than the device itself to set it up and use, it took up the whole market. So with your mobile and totally running off your mobile data, you can instantaneously share videos, links, and pictures.
The app can even be used to host or rather, facilitate group events like the planning of a surprise party, a birthday party or do homework or prepare a presentation or (for start-ups on a low budget) launch a marketing campaign. This funniest thing is now we have people walking with more authority – with the title of Whatsapp group administrator 😀
Snapchat: this animated short video-making application is more for the youth but also enjoyed by adults, and mostly used by celebrities like DJ Khaled – who is often viewed as its ‘ambassador’. It also has also recently surged in popularity (in the number of users) and as a result, earning it a place with some of the business powerhouses on the NYSE – though not performing well on the bourse to date.