Web Harvesting: A 21st Century Legacy

The word “harvesting” literally means picking the ripe fruit of a crop in its full maturity and readiness for use. This term can describe a method of gathering information online which you can use right away and exactly according to your need. Whether you are researching for business or academic purposes, web harvesting is a very helpful procedure.

Web harvesting is synonymous to web data/information extraction and web mining. It connotes a positive activity of getting something useful and valuable for one’s own benefit. From among the many fields you are browsing, you attract only the information that is relevant to the term or concept you have input into the search engine.

Web Harvesting Processes

There are three major processes of web harvesting, namely: retrieving data; extracting data; and integrating data. When these three steps are successfully done, you can be assured of a wealth of knowledge that you can keep handy and utilize according to your need when the right time comes.

Retrieving data is the process that is done by looking for pertinent data on the worldwide web. You can start by simply typing the keyword or words for the topic you are interested in on the search engine. Once you have been redirected to the sites where the specific topic can be found, you can go and retrieve the information from the authoritative sites only and store these into your computer.  Search and navigating acts are helpful in this process for they can interact with and penetrate different web pages.

On the other hand, extracting data is the process that includes the identification of useful information that is taken from retrieved content pages and is then extracted to be placed in the desired format. The analysis is made possible through parsing where the data can then be classified according to the different components and divisions of the topic under research.

The third process is integrating data. This is the process of refining the information into specific categories and putting similar concepts together. The extracted materials are organized in such a way that these can be ready for use according to your outline and objectives.

Types of Data Gleaned

The kinds of information that you can harvest are varied and you will discover that these are encompassing different areas of life which will also strengthen the results of your study. In addition, as more fields are explored, more information is gleaned and your research can be considered comprehensive and holistic.

You can get information from news articles; job posting data; industry competitors’ profile; business processes; market and business intelligence; auction data; profile information from any dating website; and product information from any e-commerce website.

In order to make your search more accurate, you do not only depend on the results given by search engines.  You still need to do the scanning, marking, switching, and pasting of the information to get the best from your online research.

You can start by scanning the contents of the saved data until you find the material that sufficiently answers your query. Then in order to emphasize it, you mark that information by highlighting or underscoring the specific words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that support the subject matter. If you are creative, you may opt to use different colors and may even go to the extent of assigning colors to specific headings and subheadings, divisions and subdivisions. Secondly, you may then switch to another application where you can store the gleaned information. Spreadsheet, database or word processors are places where you can keep your gathered information intact and ready for use. Finally, you can then proceed to copying and pasting the gleaned information to the application of your choice. You will notice that this is very similar to the manual research from printed sources, only that it is much easier and faster to conduct.

Harvesting Techniques

There are at least three ways that you can dig more useful information online.  The first is web content harvesting which is focused on the specific content of documents or their accounts like email messages, images or HTML files. The collected material may still be unstructured and disorganized and may need to be analyzed.

The second approach is web structure harvesting which seeks more data beyond what is obvious. This is done by following the links to relevant and related information in other websites. However, not all popular sites offer complete and reliable information; thus this technique gives you an idea of which sources and materials are reliable and which data should be retained. When researching online, be careful that your sources are trustworthy and up-to-date.

The third is web usage harvesting. This is one way of using data that is documented by web servers regarding the user’s interactions in order to help recognize user behavior and appraise the usefulness of the web structure.

Overall, the final objective of web harvesting is to accumulate as much material as possible from the web from several sources and to make one big, structured knowledge base. This knowledge base then allows asking for information like that of the usual database system.

The performance of data mining can transcend time, space, and technology. Not one person or group has a monopoly over web information, thus, you can satisfy your desire for knowledge through data extraction or web harvesting. Since time if fleeting, your gathered material should be updated every now and then. With the fast transfer of data from one site to another, it is important for you to be aware of the most recent developments. Today’s trends may become obsolete tomorrow and the coming days.

Indeed, high technology has brought so much good things and advantages to human beings such as in conducting researches. Gathering information is faster and easier. You can spend less time in searching for information and more time for the conduct and analysis of your research. The theories, concepts and prior related studies can be easily accessed online so a researcher will have been spared of ceaseless and sleepless nights doing the research. Almost everything he/she needs is attainable through the web.

Finally, a person who has mastered the art of web harvesting will be like a farmer who has been blessed with a conducive weather, healthy soil, great variety of seeds and friendly help. He/she is satisfied with the fruits of his/her labor and he/she can boast of a brighter tomorrow and will have saved enough for rainy days. It is indeed amazing how good the present has become because of the efforts of our forerunners. Surely, the next generation will still have better chances if the present generation would just be accountable for them.

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