Truth versus Fact

truth vs factMost often, we use the words ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ interchangeably while expressing ourselves in daily conversations. In some contexts, they can mean the same thing, but there are fundamental differences between the truth and a fact. Getting a grip of these differences can help expand the understanding of our world and also help us communicate more effectively.

First, let us have a look at the definitions of ‘Truth’ and ‘Fact”. ‘Truth’ is basically the true state of a certain matter, may it be a person, a place, a thing or an event while ‘fact’ can be described as something that exists, or is present in reality. Truths (e.g. I am in London) could be true for the present but not all the time while facts (e.g fire is hot) are constant and do not change. Truth is relative and based on what a person has come to believe, in other words, if he believes that something is true, then it is true meanwhile a fact is not just something you believe, but rather things that can be observed empirically, or by the senses – facts are rather objective than subjective.

Finally, truth is dependent on one’s perspective; one man’s truth is not necessarily the same for another while facts can be proven regardless of the perspective of the observer or even in the absence of an observer.

The Era of Big Data

big data

Big data has became an hot IT buzzword shaking things up in the high-performance computing segment of the IT world. Big data definitely have deep implications on how the information business continues to evolve, thus creating the potential for further disruption. So what is big data, anyway and why should we even care?

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. Big data exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. Big data, according to Gartner, can also be defined as high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making. Data can be text and numbers but can also include maps, images and videos.

Due to the recent technological advances, the types of big data that can be harnessed and stored have expanded. Also the rules of data accessibility are changing as more people now have more access to these data via public domain resources like data.gov (US gov) which permits anyone with an Internet connection to view and download large datasets on subjects. These subjects range from local unemployment statistics in the US and the rates of depression by the US census tract to the recent natural disasters activities. The government is making data public at both the national, state, and city level for users to develop new applications that can generate public good.

According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated daily and 90 percent of the total data in existence was created within the last two years. Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes—the equivalent of 167 times the books in America’s Library of Congress. Twitter handles over 230 million tweets each day. Facebook has over 30 petabytes of user-generated data stored houses up to more than 250 billion photos uploaded to their site which currently averages 350 millions uploads per day, according to a white paper shared by Facebook. Google roughly has 7.2 billion daily page views with 87.8 billion monthly worldwide searches conducted on Google sites. Currently over 50% of US population owns a smartphone and it is projected that there will be 10 billion mobile devices in use worldwide by 2020. All these have been made possible with recent technological breakthroughs and is the reason why big data has become important and relevant to business, schools, governments and other establishments.

While many large businesses have decided to jump on the bandwagon of big data, most small businesses have slowly approached and adopted this modern phenomenon. In a recent study conducted by Lee Bonger, a Marketing Technologist and a Professor of eCommerce, only 23% of the organizations they assessed in their study have an enterprise-wise Big Data strategy. It is important to note that big data can be used in organizations of all sizes-and in all industries and not just for big companies. Big data is not a fad, a luxury or just noise. Businesses like Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others have shown that big data is here for the long term. Big data is not yet complete, neat, orderly or perfect because of the new paradigm making old tools like relational databases and SQL statements not able to work well with petabytes of unstructured data.

There is no doubt we are in the era of big data. Is your organization using big data? How do you think it is impacting your business or industry?

Rules of Beautiful Web Design

“Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking” – Chris Pullman

Design is a multi-dimensional discipline that extends across art, technology, fashion, architecture, product development and several other fields. Beautiful and creative design can make a product, a marketing material, a website or even an office space more impressive and memorable. People nowadays are bombarded with a great deal of information with little time to spare and could be easily discouraged if the presentation of the information is not appealing or enticing. Recent studies states that average web surfers make up their minds on whether to stay on a website in less than 5 seconds after visiting the site. A good website should have both great design and great content.

Capturing the attention of a particular audience could be done more effectively with beautiful design and layout. On the Web the saying goes “content is king” but producing quality content and information while concurrently neglecting its visual beauty and aesthetics most times results in low acceptance and impact on the targeted audience. Beautiful landscapes and impressive panorama stand out and also invoke an aesthetic appreciation of nature in us, likewise impressive architectural, product and website design could make us experience the same feeling. The process of design involves seeking to generate various possible solutions, utilizing different techniques and thinking outside the box in the production of creative solutions. It is important to remember that good web design isn’t just about a beautiful treatment alone, but it should also perform at a high speed.

Here are some of the basic rules to make sure your site’s visitors get enticed, bookmark your site and most importantly return to your site. These rules are not all there is to know about web design, but understanding these simple related concepts and applying them to your designs can make for far more satisfying and effective designs.

Know your audience

It is important to first identify your audience before commencing on a design project or any other project. Knowing the identity of your target audience is absolutely necessary in order to know how to pass your message effectively to them and hopefully engage them on your website. Knowing your audience will not only help in the presentation of the information but also in creating quality content for them. By spending time thinking about the nature, demography and characteristics of your audience, subsequent design thinking time will be better focused and meaningful. Getting to know your audience might require a research which can either be quantitative, with hard statistical numbers about the size and composition of target user groups, or qualitative, with information about what that user group buys or consumes and what their lifestyle is like depending on the website’s functionality. If this is a client’s project and you have to execute a comprehensive research, feel free to include it in your quotation.

know your audience

Use a clear and simple design

Simple is better. A beautiful design relies heavily on understanding the spatial relationships that exist between the different individual components of the design. Common components include logo which represents identity, navigation which should be easy to find and use, content which is what your site visitors are looking for, whitespace which refers to any empty area of a page, and finally the footer which usually contains copyright, contact, and as well as a few links to the main sections of the site. The logo and navigation are usually placed at the top of the website and should placed on every page of the website for better navigation. Whitespace helps a design to “breathe” by guiding the user’s eye around a page, but also helps to create balance and unity. Your visitors should be able to find the information they are looking for in your site with three clicks else they are likely to click off your site as rapidly as they clicked on it.

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Effective color selection

Selecting colors is no simple matter. Whether you’re painting a house, or you’re trying to design an attractive website, if you choose the wrong color, you could be headed for a disaster. With most modern displays having the ability to render more than 16 million colors, color combinations should be selected carefully to avoid the infinite number of horrible color combinations waiting to happen. It is important to note that different color choices generate different psychological responses. Ecommerce web site owners want to know which color will make their web site visitors spend more money. There is a field of psychology known as color psychology which is devoted to analyzing the emotional and behavioral effects produced by colors and color combinations. While selecting color, it is important to know whether you need warm or cool colors. Warm colors are the colors from red to yellow, including orange, pink, brown, and burgundy. Because of their association with the sun and fire, warm colors represent both heat and motion. When placed near a cool color, a warm color will tend to pop out, dominate, and produce the visual emphasis. Cool colors are the colors from green to blue, and can include some shades of violet. Cool colors can calm people down and reduce tension. In a design, cool colors tend to recede, making them great for backgrounds and larger elements on a page, since they won’t overpower your content.

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Choose images thoughtfully

Images have the ability to convey and communicate an idea or a lot of information very quickly and effectively, this explains why images are such a prominent part of web design. As the popular saying “a picture paints a thousand words”, therefore images should be carefully presented. It is very important to avoid stretching of images so as to avoid distorting the quality of the images. Images can have various cultural, social and even religious interpretations so it is important to know the contexts within which they are used. The right images carrying the necessary messages are capable of capturing a visitor’s attention, informing him/her about vital things or events and persuade him to act and get engaged on the site. Meanwhile wrong images can create a disaster by confusing, annoying and even repelling your website visitors.

Beautiful use of images and text

Use beautiful typography

Typography is the medium through which the content is presented to the end user and therefore has an overall effect on the personality of the site. Typography could be useful as a channel through which you can transform a simple text into an expressive image and thereby improving communication. Good typography makes a design more appealing, enticing and could be a cornerstone to a successful web design. Even the combination of different font types could produce an artistic flair, but be careful not to confuse your users by using too many fonts in a project except it is absolutely necessary. Like in color selection, choosing which typeface to use might be an important decision, but how to mix them effectively is even more critical. Also note that line spacing, (which is the spacing of the lines of your text) could spice up a good scheme of typography.


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Design for different screen sizes

Unlike some decades ago when majority of Internet users accessed the Internet through their PC, web designers were only bothered about large desktop displays. This has however changed due to the recent advances in mobile computing, with users now turning to their hand held devices to browse the web and have access to information on the go. With this convenience for users comes the challenge of optimizing websites for different screen sizes and devices ranging from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices out there. It could be quite a challenge to design a website to look the same in every browser, platform and screen resolution, but the efforts invested will pay off later in the long run. It could be advisable to make sure you optimize for 1024×768 first, which is the most widely used screen size. However a new website building technique called Responsive Website Design (RWD) has emerged. This technique permits you to create a website that responds and adjusts in size to the different viewports of hand held devices and smaller screens that people use.

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Make your forms easily to use

Web forms are also essential to websites because they stand in the way of user needs (a customer online order system for example) and they can improve the overall functionality and usability. It has been researched that most people dislike filling in forms, therefore web designers need to care enough of about good form design. On the Web today, forms are the keystone of ecommerce, social interaction sites, most productivity-based applications and other various web applications. This is one of the reasons why form design matters. While designing forms it is important to think about the user whose interest lies on the other side of the form, therefore it is important to minimize the pain of forms especially registration forms. In a situation when you have a long form, feel free to segment them into logical parts to avoid losing the interest of your site users.

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The Entrepreneur’s Prayer

There are times we need to get down on our knees and pray to God. I came across this and thought I should share for the entrepreneurs out there: 🙂

entreprayneur

praying entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur’s Prayer As I awaken with the gift of yet another day and  prepare for the tasks at hand, I offer up this most ardent prayer: I pray for continued clarity of purpose so that I may hold my vision steady and keep my focus on the needs and success of others, which in turn shall bring me my success. I pray for the wisdom to expect abundance in my life, that it surrounds me and is available for the taking and to be shameless and unapologetic upon its receipt, for I deserve abundance. I pray for a cheerful countenance, be it clear or cloudy skies and that I may radiate and infect others with my positive attitude. I pray for the trust of others that they may recognize my sincerity and true intentions so that we may move forward together. I pray for the strength to fend off adversity and use my desire and determination as both weapon and shield. I pray for the courage to carry forth my convictions during the battle of business and to resist temptation to a quicker monetary result when such temptation compromises these things for which I stand. I pray that I may be used as a lightning rod to collect the amazing ideas already present in the universe and when blessed with such inspiration, that I may be able to apply my talents and abilities to turn the power of thought into measurable advancement of my goals. I pray to retain my childhood wonder so that I can recognize and revel in the small miracles of each day that others may miss. I pray for an infinite supply of self−confidence for it alone fortifies faith, strengthens my resolve and conquers the largest enemy I will ever face − fear. I pray for a compassionate spirit and the patience to offer those who seek my advice and my help, my full and undivided attention. I pray for good health and a feeling of well being, and the continued desire to improve those areas of my physical life I may be neglecting in the name of my spiritual and entrepreneurial advancement. I pray that today is a day of excellence and at its conclusion I can acknowledge and be grateful for the forward motion I have made and the growth I have experienced. I pray most of all for the understanding and support of those closest to my heart, my family, that they will equate what may seem like endless hours of apparent pre−occupation with affairs of business to what is at the very core of my being, that which drives me, for once I achieve what I have set out in its fullest, I will become that more complete being I strive to be. It is for these things that I pray, for I am an entrepreneur. ©2000 Rick Beneteau

How to Promote Your Brand using Social Media

Social Media Logos

Social Media Logos

Something unprecedented is taking place today. Advertising doesn’t work anymore as it used to. Before now, the idea of buying some TV time or putting an ad in a newspaper was considered smart and effective, but nowadays most people especially the youth spend a lot of their idle time socializing on the internet and even get their news online. This isn’t an entirely strange occurrence because man since the inception of time, has been a social being. However, what is unprecedented is the rapid rate at which communication has been enhanced through the widespread use of Internet which creating our virtual reality today.

As at March, 2013, there are more than 1 billion Facebook users, over 200 million active users and also available in 35 different language. More than 346 million people read blogs globally, and 184 million people are bloggers themselves. Twitter has more than 200 million registered users who collectively tweets an average of 3 million tweets per day, and YouTube claims more than 100 million viewers per month. LinkedIn has more than 200 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. To promote your brand, you don’t have to try to outspend the biggest companies anymore; now you outsmart them with viral videos. You don’t have to spend thousands on sterile focus groups; you’ve got your market’s pulse at your fingertips with quick Twitter searches. The world of social media is an awesome place to reach out to existing customers, expand your reach to new markets, and to maintain good relationships with other brands.

Today, through the advent of new web technologies, it is easy for anyone to create and, most importantly distribute their own content. A blog post, tweet, Facebook page or YouTube video can be produced and viewed by millions virtually for free. Advertisers need not pay distributors or publishers huge sums of money to broadcast their messages; now they can create their own interesting content that viewers will flock to. More consumers are connected than ever before, and every second your company is not engaging them in social media is a wasted opportunity. So, get on board.

Before we get started, let us juggle our minds on the definition of some key terms. Media can be simply defined as a platform where you can share ideas. Traditional media, such as television, newspapers, radio, and magazines, are one-way, static broadcast technologies which are becoming less effective marketing tools today. Social media unlike its predecessor is a new platform where we can share ideas; say things we like and don’t like; find people that share common interests and so on. Examples of social media are blogs, Facebook, Twitter, PinInterest, Google+.

Considering the following as little strategies for you to promote your brand with social media:

Be Authentic and Genuine

Social media should be used as a virtual medium to market your physical identity. Just as your physical image is unique, your virtual image has to be unique also. Being authentic gives you consistency with your customers which would inspire brand loyalty and therefore increase customer’s satisfaction. This is true because most people buy from who they like and trust other than vice-versa. Social media gives you the power of knowledge sharing and by using it appropriately you will help build trust in your organization while showing others the value in your business.

Be Open

Social media is about openness and sharing. Businesses trying to build their brand online must find their customers first and continually engage them in conversations informing their customers about their brands. These conversations should be two-way between the businesses and their customers to ensure adequate feedback for both parties. Companies need to be careful because these conversations now happen in the front of millions of people, and they’re archived for years to come.

Be Alive and Responsive

Social media allows real-time communication between the different parties involved. It is not an uncommon experience for news to appear and have been already propagated on social networking sites before they appear on the traditional news media like newspaper and TV. Similarly these days, customers prefer if you can respond to their needs and challenges as soon as possible. Failure to respond on time could leave your customers searching for alternative solutions from your competitors.

Monitor your brand

Whether you’re a local business or an international brand, it is possible that people are already talking about you on the Web. But before you can get involved in those conversations, you have to start listening. After you start listening then you can start responding to what is being said, where it is being said, and who is saying it. Monitoring social media should however be an ongoing process, and you should take advantage of various social media platforms to be sure nothing slips through the cracks—the right (or wrong) story can originate from anywhere and burst up in your face. You don’t want to get caught off guard.

Spread the word

Your own “word of mouth” is your best marketing tool. Tell everyone. EVERYONE! Tell all your friends, relatives, and co-workers that you are starting a social media campaign and are openly extending your search for clients. The more people know about this exciting plan, the more likely the news will get passed along to the ears of your prospective clients. The best publicity you can get is free so make sure you maximize on all the free publicity that you can get.