5.2 Gathering Information on the Internet

This section shifts the discussion from getting information “live” to more diffuse, asynchronous techniques associated with mining the Internet. Historically, the techniques discussed here might have been called content analysis or archival analysis (Krippendorf 2004). This is not to say that content analytic approaches are not useful. They are! Only the means of accessing the information online has changed.

Despite the Internet, forecasters still must consult a wide variety of sources. This section gives some guidance about sources that are “the best of the best,” but ultimately, source selection depends upon the specific technologies and topics being addressed. Subsections addressing science and technology and societal sources of information follow.

5.2.1 Science and Technology on the Internet

“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other” (Brand and Henron 1985, p. 49).

As suggested by Brand, the primary trade-off in acquiring that information is its cost. Information is valuable, so database providers often charge a hefty fee to access it. That is why universities, large research institutions, and government labs often bear the cost of licensing science and technology ...

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