from Internet Business
The distributed nature of the Internet and the World Wide Web effectively
precludes any concept of centralised indexing of their contents and turns
the task of finding useful information into a major commercial opportunity.
At one end of the spectrum, it is the norm for individual users' home pages
to each include their own idiosyncratic collection of pointers to other
Web pages and Internet resources which those individuals find most interesting.
At the other end are a few widely known Information Access services which
attempt by various means to find what the user is looking for, generally
by employing some kind of 'key word matching'. However the diversity and
growth of that content mean that no such service can scale up indefinitely,
ensuring a genuine need for the development of specialised services serving
Not all Net navigation aids take the form of indexes or text matching
'search engines'. There is widespread belief that software 'agents' will
play an important role in finding information on the Net in accordance with
each user's personal interests. Agents which check Net-based retailers to
find the lowest price for a given item have already been demonstrated, as
has software to block those same agents.
In fact the blocking of access to 'controversial' or otherwise inappropriate
information has also become a significant activity, with a rash of new products
aimed at supporting parents and educators in their efforts to use the Net
for their own purposes without throwing all its diversity open to impressionable
or easily distracted minds. Amongst the suggested mechanisms to support
such needs are the rating of content by its author/publisher and 'seals
of approval' provided by independent rating agencies.
It is expected that users will on average be prepared to pay more to efficiently
find content of interest than they will pay for the content itself. Popular
Information Access services also have an opportunity to take paid advertising.
These opportunities in many ways parallel those in traditional media and
a similar mix of librarianship, sub-editing and creative design will be
increasingly important to the success of such ventures. The costs of entry
may be similar to those for other Host Services
or other forms of Content Production and Publishing,
depending on the model used for information access. For search engines and
agents, they may also involve the cost of developing component software.
However, in every case, the return from well designed Information Access
services is expected to be more reliable than from other kinds of content
or software development.
 often in the form of hypertext
 probably voluntary
 see Equipment and Software