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40 Ways To Gather Information On The Internet and to Use It Efficiently
1998 Corbin Ball Associates

There is a vast wealth on information available about meeting planning on the Internet and the web. The big question is how do you find it? Listed below are some suggestions:

Web Search Sites:

  • Understand the differences among the search sites (directories, search engines and meta search sites), as this is a major key in understanding how to find what you want on the web. See www.searchenginewatch.com for a good description of the types of search sites and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Use directories such as Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) for broad topics you will get them in an alphabetized, nicely organized manner.
  • When using Yahoo, try using the "drill down" technique start on the menu page and click on the general topic of interest, and click on progressively more targeted subjects until you reach what you want.
  • Use search engines such as HotBot (www.hotbot.com) or AltaVista (www.altavista.com) for narrow, targeted searches.
  • Find a search engine that you like, and learn the advance search functions. Click on "help" or "advanced searches" on the site that you like to get this information.
  • Use these advanced searches to narrow your searches: you can target by word, words, exact phrase, date, country, images, sounds, search site domain (com, gov, edu, etc.), Boolean searches (word comparison searches), and much more by learning the advance search functions this is a major key in targeting your searches!
  • Use metasearch sites such as Profusion (www.profusion.com) or MetaCrawler (www.metacrawler.com) which search several search engines simultaneously. This is good to quickly check many sites to see what is out there. Use them for the medium range topics neither the very broad nor the very targeted searches.
  • Use the web to find information about the web most of what you need to know is there once you have mastered the proper use of search sites.

Gateway sites:

Utilize your bookmark/favorites files:

  • Learn the "bookmark" (Netscape) or "favorites" (Internet Explorer) functions in your browsers.
  • Once you have found sites that you wish to return to, bookmark them (Netscape) or add them to your favorites (Internet Explorer) so that you can easily return to them.
  • Learn how to create folders in your bookmark or favorites file and use them to categorize what you have found.
  • Usually, you should not have more that 6 to 10 bookmarked sites on any subject more than becomes redundant! If you get more than 6 to 10 sites on a specific topic, break them down into subtopics, and put them in subfolders. The idea is to quickly access the sites you have found helpful not search through a long list of bookmarked files.
  • Rename your bookmarked sites to make sense. Often times the site title that is automatically included when you add a bookmark does not make sense, is not descriptive or is too long.
  • In renaming your bookmarks, add comments to remind you why you bookmarked it in the first place i.e. "extensive hotel info" etc.
  • If the site is password protected, consider putting in the username and or password as you rename the site (keeping in mind security issues if others use your PC, however).
  • Book mark the specific page in the site that you want to return to often this is not the beginning home page.

Push:

  • Utilize "push sites" to have the customized information you want delivered to you similar to an electronic newspaper but only with the subject areas that your interested in There are several of these including Pointcast (www.pointcast.com), MyYahoo (www.myyahoo.com) or the channels built into Internet Explorer 4.0 or Netscape Communicator.

List Serves/Usenet.

  • Subscribe to Listserves or newsgroups. These are electronic mailing lists and forums. With the newsgroups you can post questions and see what people with a common interest are thinking. These come to you in the form of e-mail so pick carefully as they can fill up your email inbox quickly.
  • There are more than 20,000 newsgroups. Use DejaNew (www.dejanews.com) or Listz (www.listz.com) to find the topics of interest. Although there is not one yet specifically for the meetings industry, there are a number that address related interests.
  • Search the newsgroups for questions. For example, if you get a cryptic error message in your Windows 95 program, search the Window95 newsgroup for that error message someone has likely already answered your question there. The www.dejanews.com web site is a great resource for finding the newsgroup that you are interested in.

Mailing Lists:

  • Subscribe to mailing lists. These sites will email information on a specific topic on a regular basis. An interesting one for the meetings industry is www.eventweb.com.

Meeting Industry Forums:

  • Participate in industry related on-line forums. These are electronic bulletin boards where you can ask questions, and read what others are interested in. The oldest one is MPINet through CompuServe. A new one available for free through the web is the Meetings Industry Tech Tool Forum at the Meeting Industry Mall: www.mim.com/forum.

Specialized sites:

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