The Language of Research: How English Dominates Research and Creates Bias

English has become the common language of global academics. All of the major journals publish in English, even though they contain research from across the globe. Despite seeing a surge in the number of non-native English speakers, the industry is dominated by powerhouses in English-speaking countries and as a result, English research dominates across all fields, especially in scientific and technical fields.

A recent Cambridge study estimated that a third or more of new scientific reports are published in languages other than English. They believe the result is that findings are often overlooked and biases can begin to become a problem. The research included a call to scientific journals to consider beginning publishing the key findings from studies in multiple languages.

There is no shortage of documentation detailing the challenges English-as-a-second-language (ESL) researchers and students when submitting to English language journals in writing for submission to English language journals. Besides submission issues, there are also problems with keeping up the literature, finding the right research, communicating with editors and interpreting the comments of reviews and the public. There’s also the issue of time-sensitive data, and making it accessible to wider research community. Something which currently is difficult to do when institutions focus on publishing research in only one language.

And there’s clear reason to believe that ignoring research published in a foreign language can be detrimental to the academic research community. Take for example issues with research-access surrounding H5N1, more commonly known as bird flu. After it had begun decimating Asia’s avian populations, Chinese scientists reported that pigs could also be infected. thirteen years ago. This was an important and worrying development, since infection in pigs could potentially allow the virus to jump to humans. The scientists highlighted that the issue required urgent attention in their study, however because it was published in Chinese in a nationally based veterinary research journal. They had made a ground-breaking discovery, but it would take several months to make its way into the international forum, and by that point swine flu was already spreading.

In academia, writing in English is increasingly becoming essential to visibility of authors and the chances their submission will be accepted. This doesn’t make it easy when trying to publish their work in English peer-reviewed journals internationally, many of which hold the keys to successful professional careers in academia. English post-graduate students or academic researchers who go to Germany or Norway for instance, have plenty of options for institutions they can study at or work for, and they can write and submit their dissertation or thesis, without having to gain the ability to write in the native language at the academic level.

This is because proficiency in academic writing is acquired through years of tertiary study. Undergraduate essays, or even an early post-grad writing assignment will rarely be at a standard deemed publishable by journals. University research training is designed to teach not only the quantitative skills for conducting professional research, but also the creative skills necessary to communicate findings in way that is engaging and easily digested. There are many native English speakers who could never successfully produce a paper or essay to academic standards, simply because they’ve never been trained.

According to one Chinese graduate, the best solution to the problem is to write the manuscript yourself. In his case he was writing his first scientific paper in English while still at University. According to him, he could read and understand English at an academic level, and had been using textbooks written in English at his University in Beijing. However, challenge came when trying to find the right words, or when expressing his scientific or creative thinking in English. In his experience, this decision paid off, with an academic journal publishing his final manuscript.

Indonesian students and researcher, and even academics have recently had to come face to face with the problem of publishing in English language journals thanks to recent changes in Government law which have made publication of even an undergraduate’s final thesis mandatory. Academics across the country have spoken out about the difficulties of writing research in English at the level expected by top-tier international journals. But the problem is far wider spread.

While a researcher or academic could hire a company to provide them with translation services or enlist an essay writing service. But this service does not come cheap. The problem is, outsourcing the hard work doesn’t provide the necessary training to allow writers to continue to publish without them. Which can be to the authors detriment in terms of money and time. Additional complications arise from the complaints levelled against these industries. These come from concerns about students cheating on assignments, thanks to the ability to buy a custom paper from an essay-mill website, or the proliferation of fake medical news appearing online, thanks to the poor vetting procedures of alternative and locally-based publishers.

Judith Hertog an ESL specialist at the Institute for Writing at Rhetoric at Dartmouth College’s New Hampshire campus agrees that the best route is writing your own essay or paper. “My most basic advice is to look for models of well-written papers,”

The main areas ESL researchers and academics struggle with are issues of syntax and flow, and the proper way to use a specific term or turn of phrase. Things like stilted sentence construction, run on sentences impact the readability of research, especially when it’s topic is very dry. Reading the work of English writers who are considered influential can help with some of the grammatical peculiarities and problems of academic language.

Established journals and publishers need to begin reaching out to researchers in regions where English is not the first language, and providing guidance and services to help make it easier to publish their research in English language journals.

Scholarly publishing is a billion-dollar industry. Massive names like Elseiver, John Wiley & Sons operate on a business model that’s built on acquiring free content from private or government or funded research. Then, having academics peer-review the papers for free, which they proceed to sell back to academic libraries and research institutes at a high-price. This leaves little room for ESL researchers to participate without additional costs in either funds or time. When it comes to ESL researchers and academics, there’s more than some truth to the tale of arriving at the gates of knowledge only, to find them shut.

What is the future of alternative medicine?

Alternative medicine refers to medical treatments that are outside the bounds of conventional or mainstream medicine. There is a variety of alternative medical systems and theses are gaining increasing traction in contemporary society.

Conventional Vs Alternative Medicine

The conventional health care industry is synonymous with the allopathic system of medicine. It is biased towards the treatment of illnesses rather than prevention of diseases and sustenance of health. Conventional medical professionals deploy their energies on diagnostics and treatment, and not on prevention and management. The conventional medical curriculum is centered on therapeutics, rather than healthy living. The entire focus is on immediate crisis intervention although it has been conclusively proved that illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, lower back pain, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease are lifestyle diseases and develop over longer time horizons.

Alternative Medicine recognizes that the human body is a wonderfully designed system. The healing process is intricately woven into the body and is effective in an environment free of emotional stress, depression and panic. In such a situation, alternative healers consider pain as the body’s self-communication rather than a manifestation of something wrong. For example, pain may be a hint that one is just not eating right.

 

Principles of Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine looks at the human being as a sum total of health, wellness and disease, body, mind and spirit. It acts as a catalyst for the operation of the body’s innate healing responses, with both the patient and medical practitioner functioning as co-facilitators in the healing process.

 

Types of Alternative Medicine

Chiropractic care focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and nervous system. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments on the premise that proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure, especially the spine, has the potential to heal the body without surgery and medication. This practice focuses on the anatomy and physiology of the bodily structure, especially the spine.

Therapeutic Healing Touch – A therapist uses the healing energy at his disposal to identify and repair imbalances in a person’s energy field.

Homeopathy – A homeopath treats a sick person by using a substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person that are akin to those of the illness.

Aromatherapy – In this medical system, aroma-rich oils are extracted from plants and these oils are mixed with alcohol and lotions as a part of the treatment.

Biofeedback – This system treats a person on the basis of bodily functions such as skin temperature, sweat gland activity, blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension.

Detoxification – This approach to alternative medicine rids the body of toxins and other harmful substances.

Herbal Medicine – This alternative therapy uses plant parts such as roots, leaves, berries and flowers to heal the body. An estimated 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine, according to the World Health Organization estimates.

Magnetic Field Therapy – This method makes use of magnetic and electrical fields to treat musculoskeletal problems such as osteoarthritis and other pain conditions.

Reiki – This method taps into the body’s natural energy to speed healing, with the reiki healer hovers moving his hands lightly over the body.

Acupuncture – This traditional Chinese technique stimulates specific points on the body with the help of needles. The acupuncturist sticks thin, sterile needles into the skin so as to activate the body’s natural healing process.

Ayurveda is an alternative system of medicine that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It is based on the notion that disease is due to an imbalance in a person’s consciousness and therefore encourages lifestyle interventions and purification process to regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and environment.

There is an increasing awareness about the connection between mind and body. Emotionally and mentally balanced people tend to heal faster. Therapies that stress on the mind, such as meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis are therefore much in demand. Senses such as touch, sight and hearing are important for the health of a person. This explains the popularity of sense-based treatments such as art, dance, and music therapy, visualization and guided imagery.

 

Advantages of Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine treats the actual cause of pain and heals the body. It goes to the root of the problem instead of merely treating the symptoms. It is safe as no artificial and unnatural substances are inserted into the body; so there is no dependency on unnecessary things and no harmful side effects to the mind and body. Alternative medicine adopts a holistic approach by aiming at overall well-being of the person, rather than merely seeking alleviation of pain and disease. Alternative medicine allows more flexibility in treatment and the therapies are generally more affordable than conventional medical treatments.

 

Disadvantages of Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine is not free from disadvantages. It is not a cure-all for all diseases. There is a general misconception that herbal medicines are safe as they are created from plant extracts. But one should bear in mind that like any other medications, medications prescribed by alternative medical practitioners should be consumed only as per expert advice. The assumption that natural compounds are healthier and safer can be a dangerous thinking because many natural compounds can be poisonous if consumed in the wrong dosage. Since limited scientific research accompanies alternative medicine, there are many gaps in understanding the mechanism of treatment and effects on the patient.

 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there should not be a chasm that divides alternative and conventional, Western and Eastern Medicine. All that matters is effectiveness, in terms of what works and what doesn’t. The internet, smart phones and other technological advances of the modern era should also be wielded judiciously to facilitate medicine that is good, simple and effective.

Is there a lack of financial literacy among America’s youth?

To be financially literate means to know how to manage your money. It involves knowing how to earn, invest, spend, and save money for a secure retirement and future. It applies to both individuals and organisations. Researchers are of the view that financial decision-making is linked to our family values, sentiments and experiences as learnt at school. Hence, the roots of secure retirement planning lie in the financial lessons on saving and spending that a person receives in childhood.

There is a common misconception that financial planning is relevant only in adulthood years after one starts working or settles down to start a family. Truth is, people are responsible for saving and paying off debts right from the time they decide to get a loan for their own college education and the expenses that come with it.

It is common knowledge that many teenagers drop out of college in the first term because they are unsure about their ability to repay their education loan. According to data released by the National Centre for Education Statistics for the year 2015, out of the first-time undergraduate students who enrol for full time bachelor’s degree courses of 4-years’ duration, only 59% had completed a bachelor’s degree after six years. The inability of students to understand the financial obligation that they sign up for is largely responsible for this attrition rate.

In the US, for example, the student loan crisis amounts to as much as USD 1.3 trillion, with the average student liable to repay more than USD 37,000 in debt upon graduating. Experts have pointed out that most of this debt is not being repaid because scholars are struggling financially in an education system that has become increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable.

The only silver lining in this dark cloud is that students, teachers and parents acknowledge this gap between the actual financial situation and their understanding of the same. Many schools have already introduced financial education as a subject in classrooms, while parents participate in workshops to learn how to implement smart financial habits for the family.

A common mistake that young adults commit, before signing below the dotted line for a loan, is that they fail to explore the ways and means by which they can reduce the burden of debt. Experts advice that students should carefully evaluate all their college and scholarship options. Choosing a less expensive college that offers the same programme would be a wiser decision than moving to another state for an expensive college that will put a strain on the financial resources for many years.

Even if the family is unable to use its savings to help the student bring down the loan amount, it is always possible for the scholar to look for part-time jobs to support his or her education. Such work experience not only reduces dependence on loans, but also trains a person in skills related to time-management and career.

To have an accurate idea about the expenses required to complete the degree, one needs to have a realistic idea about all the costs that would occur during the four-year graduation period. For instance, since many students get admitted to colleges far from home, they prefer owning a car. In this case, the cost of ownership of the car is a part of the total expenses incurred in completing the degree, including the cost of insurance because for previously-owned vehicles, the new owner is legally obligated to buy an expensive insurance policy for the car.

 

In fact, other than tuition and books (including stationary), car insurance is the biggest expense that a student incurs in college. Insurance companies often charge higher premiums to cover cars owned by students because they, as drivers, are more accident-prone than older adults. Add that factor to lack of sleep, stress of deadlines, restlessness and peer pressure together to get an idea as to why companies are charging so much for students’ insurance category.

There are many ways to reduce even these insurance costs. Car insurance companies subscribe to the idea that students who do well academically and have higher grades are more responsible than others. By extension, it means that companies are ready to give rebates to scholars who maintain a B average or better in their academics. Of course, the student is required to present proof of such good grades while applying for the policy. Functional seatbelts, airbags and car alarms in the car can reduce the policy cost even further.

To conclude, enabling children and teenagers to be financially literate will go long way in thwarting a major loan crisis. A student debt crisis not only affects the loan applicants and their families but also the economy at large. Loans lead to less spending and delayed savings, which result in lower revenues for businesses in a consumer-driven economy like the US. There will be lower risk appetite among fresh graduates, which will discourage them from starting new businesses or investing in entrepreneurship ideas. A debt burden truly takes vitality out of the economy and forces young professionals to delay major purchases, buying a house and decisions to start a family out of the fear of more expenses.

The barriers facing America’s young entrepreneurs

Mark Zuckerberg was once America’s most notorious young entrepreneur

Globally, entrepreneurship is increasingly being seen by the skilled workforce as an alternative to seeking employment. Start-ups make a tremendous contribution to the economy for two reasons: one is the range of new innovations they come up with and second is the number of jobs that they generate. In fact, economists blame the decline of the start-up culture in the US for the limited economic expansion since the end of the recession in the last decade. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that start-ups are only poised to grow in numbers and scale.

Being an entrepreneur may seem preferable to taking up a job. After all, being your own master always seems an alluring prospect. However, would be entrepreneurs need to keep in mind the risks involved, since the probability of success is as low as 10 per cent. Given the high probability of failure, it is important to understand challenges of setting up and running a new business before setting it up.

Experts are of the view that too many entrepreneurs fail to properly evaluate the viability of their idea before taking the plunge. A successful business is one which either fulfils a need or offers a solution to an existing problem. Entrepreneurs need to conduct in-depth research to understand the industry, the market and the competition first to understand if their idea can perform well under the given conditions. For example, the developer of an app that gives updates on football match scores must incorporate unique features in it that none of its other competing apps have introduced.

Once the decision to start the business is taken, the first challenge that most entrepreneurs face is to procure funding for the new idea. The challenge is even greater nowadays, when there is a 24 per cent fall in the total investment in new companies as compared to 2015. Investors are much more risk averse than they were even two years ago, which effectively means that entrepreneurs seeking funding need to have a clear business plan and a vision for the future.

Moreover, entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that fact that investing is not a one-time transaction, but the beginning of a long-term relationship. The investor is inevitably going to have a say in the running of the business and so compatibility of vision becomes a very important matter to consider before accepting funding.

Human resources pose the next big challenge. Selecting the right person is indispensable since every single employee has a crucial role to play in the success of the business. Unfortunately, attracting talented individuals becomes the biggest challenge for two reasons: one is the range of risks associated with new businesses and second is that young entrepreneurs usually cannot match salaries and benefits offered by more established companies. This talent conundrum is one that every start-up inevitably faces. In this regard, it is useful to keep in mind that professional support from recruitment firms is available.

The regulatory environment poses its own set of challenges, one which new businesses are usually ill equipped to handle. Compliance with taxation, labour laws, healthcare laws, intellectual property rights, commercial laws, etc can appear daunting for entrepreneurs who usually have little or no exposure to those areas. Fortunately, here too, professional expertise is available. For instance, employer trusts can help small businesses in complying with laws relating to employee benefits, allowing entrepreneurs to concentrate on business development.

Which brings us to a related challenge: maintaining focus. Due to limited resources, multitasking is a norm within start-ups, with people usually handling multiple responsibilities, unlike their equals in established companies. In such an environment, it is easy to get completely involved in operational matters and lose sight of the bigger picture. This diversion from the goal makes it highly important for the leadership to stay focussed on strategic matters.

The entrepreneur equally needs to focus on changes in the environment in which the business operates, which includes the technological, economic, regulatory and competitive environment, among other things, because businesses do not operate in a vacuum. An environmental change can significantly impact the business, possibly affecting its very viability. For example, an entrepreneur planning to raise funds for developing a new product will be impacted by the recently introduced regulations. By extension, these changed regulations will impact and revise any business plan that was developed to be backed by a potential crowdfunding program.

It is not the leadership alone which has to grapple with the challenges of dealing with multiple responsibilities. It is common knowledge that in most start-ups, employees deal with fluid or ill-defined expectations, scope of responsibility and processes. This confusion can lead the staff to lose direction and even motivation, leading to employee attrition. Therefore, attention needs to be given to establishing the scope of work, reporting structures and employee policies to retain good employees.

It would be worth mentioning in this context that good communication is an essential tool for the management to keep its employees focused and motivated. This is definitely true for all companies of all sizes, but it assumes far greater importance in new business set-ups, where the pressures of daily work can become all consuming. Many experts stress on the need for a collaborative approach to make the business a success.

To be sure, there is no definite formula for success and all the above-mentioned points can only serve as guidelines. Nevertheless, they provide a framework for entrepreneurs to take decisions which ensure that their business ends in the 10 per cent bracket of new ventures that succeed.

Is Traveling Light the Future of Travel?

Traveling is the one of most delightful experiences of humankind, with all the associated highs and the lows, ecstasies and agonies. “The fool wanders, the wise man travels,” so the old saying goes. Traveling in modern times has moved beyond mere wanderlust. Workcation or traveling simultaneously for work and vacation has come into vogue, especially with the burgeoning popularity of careers such as travel blogging, social media management and ghostwriting. Add to that, business trips, study excursions and space travel (think of the Apollo Mission to the Moon and a working trip to the International Space Station) are the new face of travel in the 21st century.

Minimalism is chic – Minimalist design, minimalist homes and minimalist offices. The fact is that minimalism has been around since centuries, thanks to the intrepid traveler who has been traveling far and traveling light. But it has acquired a new meaning in contemporary times due to the availability of travel companions such as drawstring bags.

 

Traveling

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware,” said the renowned philosopher and educator Martin Buber. Traveling teaches a person to be self-reliant – to use one’s personal ability and resourcefulness to navigate the travel maze. Traveling is an invaluable source of knowledge as a person who travels meets different people and visits diverse places.

Traveling is a better teacher than books. For example, a Geography student can learn the subject better by visiting the physical environment. A student of anthropology can learn much about society and culture by visiting people in their natural cultural settings. A foreign language can be learnt easily by immersing oneself in the lives of the people who speak the language.

Traveling brings us closer to nature – the beauty of snow-clad mountains, waterfalls, forests and the seas. Traveling opens a window to the reality of the world; the diverse habits, customs, traditions, food and clothing manifesting a common humanity. A traveler is an explorer into new worlds, meeting people in exotic climes, forging new relationships and discovering new cultural and educational horizons. Traveling nurtures a spirit of unity and brotherhood as it opens up countless opportunities for social interactions, understanding and acceptance.

 

Traveling Light

Traveling light means focusing on the important and bare minimum, traveling into a world of freedom and limitless possibilities unencumbered by physical baggage and unshackled by mental chains. It is a humbling lesson on the futility of external possessions vis-à-vis that which is real, priceless and innate in every human being and in life itself, the qualities of mind and heart, the breathtaking beauty of nature, the captivating smile of a child et al.

Traveling light means a willingness to live with less, at least for the duration of the trip. It means making the right choices about the things to be lugged around and the things to be left behind.

Traveling minimally is the ultimate test of faith, the best way of proving that everything one needs is within us at all times, and an unwavering commitment to sustainable tourism or people-oriented tourism.

There is an inverse relationship between luggage and enjoyment; the less the possessions, the more pleasant is the trip.

 

Packing Smart

The starting point of traveling light and packing smart would be the traveling bag itself. The foremost thing is to limit the number of bags taken on a trip. The more the bags, the heavier the travel load. Ideally speaking, there should only be one bag and the bag should be compact. The bag should fit into the plane’s overhead compartment with ease, making travel by air easier without cumbersome check-in and check-out procedures. A single drawstring bag would be ideal in such a situation.

Packing smart or packing small is essential for any globetrotter committed to embracing the charm and challenge of travel. It begins with zeroing in on the absolutely necessary luggage and learning the art of packing things in the most efficient way.

A small pack is a sure-shot means of making in time for the incredible trains in Japan, where punctuality is counted down to the centi-seconds, or squeezing into a crowded bus or train onto the next rugged, albeit exciting destination in India.

Packing undoubtedly involves very personal decisions. Comfort and style differ from person to person. There is no need for multiple sets of clothes as a hotel laundry or a local cleaner are always at hand. One can use travel-size versions of favorite products such as hairspray, lotion, and face wash, so as to save on space. There are also possibilities to limit the toiletries that are being carried, by using shampoos, conditioners, and soaps provided at the hotel instead of bringing one’s own.

Weather is an important component of travel planning or travel luggage planning. For example, there is no need to pack a heavy sweater or a rain coat if the weather forecasts suggest sunshine throughout the trip. In case of sudden changes in weather, appropriate clothing can be purchased or borrowed at the travel destination.

An organizer pouch, which is a flat, rectangular, multi-compartmented, nylon bag and packing cubes, could be a handy addition as these would help in organizing the contents of the travel bag.

Travel is more about rejuvenation, adventure and exploring new horizons than merely visiting places on the travel list. It is therefore important to arrive at the destination fresh and raring to enjoy the trip rather than being exhausted by all the lugging around. What better way to do so than travel light and minimalistic.

The Best Exercise for You: What Does Science Say?

Many of us have to lead very sedentary lives. For work, many careers require sitting in a chair all day. Then, you’ve got to sit in your car or public transport on the way home and when you get there you’re sitting down for meals and media. Granted, plenty of people make time for exercise, but many have trouble finding the time for it or even knowing what to do. According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity is cited as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. So, it’s certainly something all of us should be thinking about. The question is, what’s the right kind of exercise for you? Fortunately there are many different options that can suit a variety of different schedules. After reading this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to become active in ways that suit you best.

One method of fitness that many discard into adulthood is the continued practice of team sport. According to a 2017 study from the Netherlands, 10% of adults across both Europe and Africa play soccer regularly. In addition to long-spanning cultural reasons, this is due in part to the numerous physical benefits of exercise conducted not just for the sake of it. “Team play encourages you to let go of the idea of an exercise ‘dose,’” Jake Simmons, professor of kinesiology and physical education from Cal State University-Hayward said in 2004. “When you’re engaging with other people while exercising, you tend to stop worrying about whether you’re doing ‘enough.’” The implications of this go clearly beyond just physical fitness. As part of a team that’s sharing in a goal and strategy for winning, you’re afforded the chance to make new friends and meet new people. It’s a mental health boon in addition to physical. Some researchers have even found that cognitive development through team sport can actually improve information-processing ability, which is excellent for interpersonal relationships and career development through higher performance. Clearly, this is a great source of exercise, but if you’re strapped for time it can certainly be difficult to train to a team’s schedule. In addition, it doesn’t exactly cater to the more introverted among us! Fortunately, there are a variety of excellent solitary solutions that will save you time while still affording the benefits.

Yoga is a fantastic way for people of all ages to improve their physical and mental fitness, while also granting a degree of… well… flexibility! Although there are plenty of ways to find Yoga groups, it can just as easily be done in the quiet comfort of your own home. The next logical question is, what is it? Dating back 5,000 years, Yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy originally conceived as a path to spiritual enlightenment. Although this end is still desired by some, the more ‘corporeally focussed’ among us can use it as a low-intensity stress management routine that utilises a variety of structured poses and breathing exercises. Among the more… acrobatic poses, there are plenty of lying and sitting postures. This makes it excellent for elderly people with joint issues and arthritis looking to keep up their fitness in old age. It can also lower chronic pain according to Dr Natalie Nevins of the American Osteopathic Association. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia,” Dr Nevins adds. Similarly to team sports, she swears by its role in “developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life” regarding stress, headaches and sleeping problems. So what do you need to start? Simply heading to a Yoga Shop to purchase a mat and getting instructions online or in-person will suffice. However, it’s understandable if this more disciplined course of exercise might not be up your alley. If you’re looking for something more physically intense while also allowing you to set your own schedule, the exercise methods to follow should interest you.

If you feel like returning to your primal roots, you need not look any further than good old running! In addition to being able to set your schedule and get started with minimal knowledge, running has been proven to help prevent obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers and more. Exercise physiologist Greg Justice, founder of AYC Health & Fitness, asserts that every run improves resting heart rate so your heart becomes more efficient. This benefit alone makes it a tempting prospect; this heightened cardiovascular fitness can improve your ability to participate in any other physical activity. It’s also a weight bearing exercise, meaning your joints develop higher resilience. However, this sort of thing is a double-edged sword. While running is easy to get into, the fact it is weight bearing means it’s hard to sustain into age, as it can damage your joints permanently if done excessively. “Your body is designed to deal with oxidative stress that comes from exercise for the first hour,” cardiologist James O’Keefe warned, “but prolonged intense exercise causes excessive oxidative stress, which basically burns through the antioxidants in your system.” In words that don’t require eight years of medical school to understand, it’s going to hurt! A nice alternative with similar benefits is swimming. If you’ve got access to a public pool, swimming exercises all muscle groups while imposing much less of a toll on joints. This makes it another good alternative for the elderly and sufferers of arthritis.

Overall, the world is full of great methods for getting healthier. It can be intimidating sometimes to choose just one or two considering our limited schedules and obligations, but as this article has made clear it’s certainly worthwhile. It’s just a matter of finding the right exercise for you. No matter who you are, you can do it. Fitness is just a decision away!

Is Big Data the New Norm in Business?

Big Data is king. It is considered as the new black gold or the new natural resource. Big Data has made a big bang entry into modern life and business, influencing corporations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the mom-and-pop stores in the backyard. The volume of Big Data is sky-rocketing, with some estimates suggesting that a whopping 2.4 quintillion new bits are being created each day.

 

What is Big Data?

What is Big Data after all? When one thinks Big Data, one visualizes incredible amounts of data and new ways of using data. There is a torrent of digital data and this is changing the nature of doing business in a very fundamental manner. Big data refers to the large volume of structured and unstructured data that is generated by digital processes, social media exchanges, business transactions, and machine-based activity, and can be used by organizations for business gains. Big Data includes systems and processes governing data generation, collation, management, control and usage. Big Data is a blend of high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety data. It presents itself in varied formats, from structured and numeric to unstructured text documents, video, audio and email data. Big Data is transmitted at a break-neck speed and must therefore be analyzed and processed at a fast pace to ensure real-time results.

 

The Gains

Big Data is a big asset for every business. It enables companies to collect better market and customer intelligence. Big Data will enhance operational efficiency within companies by tracking employee performance and also use sensors to track performance of machines. It will also enable companies to improve the customer experience by building big data into their product offerings.

Big data is no longer the preserve of data management companies and specialists alone. Mega corporations such as Facebook, Walmart, Bank of America and Dell manage petabytes of data per day. Ford Motor Company gathers data averaging 25 gigabytes an hour per car, under its Smart Mobility initiative, to make advances in its Ford Fusion hybrids. GE uses data from sensors placed on gas turbines and jet engines to introduce bigger and better models.

The retail giant Amazon use Big Data to keep track of its customers’ names and addresses, payments details and search history, time spent on its website and the quality of customer experience. The company would use this information to customize its marketing strategy and engage better with its customers.

The multinational financial services company, American Express, uses Big Data to analyze and predict consumer behavior. The entertainment streaming service Netflix uses data and analytics to create digital content and influence the viewing behavior of its consumers. Lucrative gaming and betting websites such as NetBet use Big Data to design games and plan promotional activities.

 

The Pain

Big Data, by its very nature, involves an information overload. It would be a daunting task for the data to be organized into meaningful, actionable chunks, even with the help of machine learning.

Big Data can lead to privacy concerns. The proliferation of data about a person can be liable to theft and misuse. Moreover, cloud-based storage is not as secure as on-site data warehouses.

Big Data also demands a revamped way of doing things at the workplace. Traditional organizations tend to receive and process business intelligence on a weekly basis. Real-time insights, fuelled by advances in Big Data, would demand action that is also real-time. This shift in work culture would make the organization an information-centric body and it has to be up to the task.

The biggest impediment to adopting Big Data is the cultural challenges that would rear their head in the form of organizational alignment, resistance to new technology, lack of understanding and change management issues.

 

The Future

Big Data and its convergence with other technological mega trends such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IOT) and virtual reality are set to change the innovation and technological map of the world.

We are at a tipping point or a paradigm shift in the data world, beyond which companies will analyze new types of data in real-time and use it business decisions in incredible ways.

Big Data will help existing companies to create new growth opportunities. It will also spawn new types of companies focused on providing big data services, and businesses that combine and analyze industry data.

Data volumes are also set to register an exponential growth, considering the expected exponential rise in data gathering capacities and the quantum jump in digital lifestyle.

“All companies are data businesses now,” Forrester says, while predicting that more companies will attempt to drive value and revenue from their data. The International Institute for Analytics estimates that businesses using data will gain $430 billion in productivity benefits vis-à-vis their data-deprived competitors, by 2020.

Any discussions about the future of Big Data are obsolete in some ways. Big Data is already in the ‘here and now’ as market leaders are capitalizing on Big Data to assert their competitive advantage. The challenge consists in making the flood of data meaningful and actionable. Big Data will change how businesses operate and compete, and sweep aside those that fail to adapt and transform themselves in face of a looming market disruption.

Businesses can retain their importance and stay ahead of the competition only by differentiating themselves, and this is only possible by exploiting the potential of Big Data.

What does the global housing sector look like in 2018?

Regardless of the global economic slowdown in the last decade, real estate is one of the largest sectors of economic activity across the world, holding a key role in investor portfolios as an asset class. The significance of the real estate industry can be highlighted from the fact that it constitutes around 15% of the GDP of the two biggest economies in the world, USA, and China.

Fortunately, the credit squeeze which has adversely affected the real estate market over the last decade might soon be over. As the year comes to an end, experts are of the view that the coming year will usher in a thriving residential and non-residential property market, rich with opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

However, the revival of the sector is expected to be challenged by an increase in the cost of acquisition due to rising interest rates. Simply put, the cost of acquisition includes all the costs incurred for purchasing a real estate property. In the US, for example, housing interest rates were nearly 0.5% higher as of September 2017 as compared to a year ago and more rate hikes are expected in the near future.

The good news is that despite the increase in interest rates, mortgage applications from home buyers increased by 4% vis-à-vis the same period last year, which would suggest that the residential real estate market is beginning to witness a revival that is likely to sustain. Significantly, the expected rise in interest rates will ensure that buyers who can genuinely afford the rising cost of acquisition will apply for loans, reducing the risk of defaults in the future. In other words, a repeat of the sub-prime crisis that send the economies of most developed countries on a downward spiral is unlikely.

Another challenge confronting the residential real estate sector is the fact that supply is presently unable to keep pace with rising demand due to shortage of land and skilled labour. The supply demand mismatch, combined with rising cost of construction, is likely to push up prices in the short term. However, builders remain confident in their ability to increase the supply of new homes in the long run. Given that background, it would be fair to assume that the supply-demand mismatch is unlikely to persist for long.

The scope for increasing the supply of houses in the bigger cities is usually limited since the housing market is usually already saturated and new construction is usually subject to regulatory restrictions from local authorities. As a result, a vibrant housing market in medium-sized cities is likely to emerge in the coming years.

Many investments in the sector are also brought in by foreign buyers, particularly from China, where an inorganically fluctuating yuan, unstable financial assets, and competitive markets have pushed wealthy consumers to hunt for opportunities that offer a better return on investment. However, the continuation of this trend could be adversely impacted in the event of protectionist measures by the Chinese government to prevent the outflow of foreign exchange.

In 2016, Chinese investments in real estate assets increased by 56 percent, touching USD 28.2 billion. The Asian giant also became the largest cross-border real estate investor, taking over the US. As China is primarily an export-oriented economy, it is necessary for the government there to maintain a competitive exchange rate against the USD.

The advent of the internet has ushered in another major development in the property business. Most prospective buyers now first look up for information and property options online before approaching the agent. A study conducted by a marketing research firm recently indicated the internet impacts buying decisions of more than half of home buyers in India. In 2018, property agents will be expected to maintain portfolios on social media networks and allocate funds for online marketing.

Similarly, the forthcoming year will also see an increase in platforms for real estate auctions. Contrary to popular belief, auctions are no longer indications of distressed sales or bank-forfeited properties. When a property is put up for bids, all parties in the transaction are treated in a fair and equitable manner. The terms and conditions remain the same for everyone. It offers benefits for the seller in both slow and strong economies with quick and guaranteed sale without much expenditure on advertising. Also, both the buyer and the seller know when exactly the transaction will occur, giving them sufficient time for planning and documentation process.

In recent times, auction platforms have integrated with the internet to make way for online auctions. Though nothing can replace the assurance of physical inspection, innovations in virtual reality hold a lot of promise for cautious buyers. Admittedly, the sector has been slow in adapting to new technologies, but young entrepreneurs are exploring real estate marketing opportunities in the non-traditional medium. Many property developers and agents have already started building their brands on Instagram and other social media networks to engage with the millennials, who have already emerged as a key target group.

In conclusion, the real estate sector is poised to be impacted by easy access to information online. There will be transparency in negotiations and social media branding will become indispensable for companies. What remains to be seen is that how many companies are willing to adopt these changes in the coming months. After all, isn’t it the early bird that catches the worm?

An economic perspective on staying fit

Health and wellness is emerging as one of the biggest industries globally. It was estimated that the industry grew 10.6% between 2013 and 2015 to reach USD 3.72 trillion, far outpacing the global economy. To put it in perspective, if the industry were an economy, it would be one of the five biggest economies in the world.

The extraordinary growth of the health and wellness industry can be largely put down to the increasing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases across the world. According to a study commissioned by the World Economic Forum in 2011, it was estimated that five health conditions- diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, mental illness and respiratory illness- would claim 52 million lives in the two decades between 2011 and 2030. Apart from the lives claimed, lifestyle-related disorders would leave an even bigger number of people unable to actively contribute to society. All included, the economic cost was estimated at a staggering USD 47 trillion for the two-decade period, nearly twice the GDP of the USA.

The good news is that the health and wellness industry is rapidly evolving in response to the challenges confronting it. Fitness facilities such as gymnasiums continue to proliferate in residential townships and workplaces, offering users excellent facilities at affordable costs by leveraging on economies of scale (a proportionate saving in costs gained by an increased volume of economic activity).

Along with gyms and dance workout classes popping up in the vicinity, the internet has made it possible to connect with skilled coaches and nutritionists, irrespective of their location. It is now possible to have a full session with a yoga instructor or dietician in another country through video conferencing. Fitness instructors and coaches even have a separate visa category and are sought after by many countries due to skill shortage.

Wearable gadgets, by themselves, are not a new phenomenon but they have improved in accuracy significantly over the recent years. Thanks to these gadgets, users are more aware of their fitness and activity levels. It is no wonder then that these devices motivate users to achieve their target by keeping a regular record of their performance. As these devices are becoming increasingly stylish and affordable, they are being accepted by both young and elderly.

Of course, all these developments have been met with a decisive shift toward healthier eating. Nutrition, as a subject, has been getting more noticed than ever. From young start-ups to large corporations with huge brands, there has been a lot of competition to come up with new products and improve prevailing ones, to get a slice of the rapidly growing business. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Nielsen among 30,000 people, 90 percent of shoppers do not hesitate to pay extra for food products if they deliver added health quality and benefits to their family.

It is significant to note that since many millennial parents are demanding healthier alternatives for their families and to match their lifestyle, even popular products have brought down their sugar levels to remain relevant in the market. Sales of carbonated drinks, such as Pepsi, have dropped by as much as 14 per cent in the last ten years, partly due to better-informed parents seeking healthier diet habits.

The idea of fitness has finally moved from purely physical one to incorporate mental well-being. With prominent sportsmen, CEOs and movie celebrities speaking more openly about personal struggles with mental ailments, there has been a lot of discussion in the media to discourage the stigma surrounding these disorders that dissuade people from seeking medical help.

A 2017 PwC report estimates that for every USD spent in developing a mentally fit office, a company reaps USD 2.30 in resulting benefits. The figures assume importance in the wake of figures released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that reveal that mental health ailments have cost the United Kingdom as much as USD 120 billion annually or about 4.5 percent of their GDP, followed by Switzerland (USD 21 billion or 3.2 percent of GDP) and Denmark (USD 8 billion or 3.4 percent of GDP).

Many healthcare experts recommend Yoga for physical and mental fitness and it has emerged as an important segment of the health and wellness industry. Introduced by Indian yoga gurus around the turn of the 20th century, it is now a very popular form of exercise in the West, where modern studios and yoga shops promote the benefits associated with the regular practice. While the origins of yoga remain obscure, the earliest known reference to it is in the Rig Veda, the oldest extant text from ancient India, which dates to mid-second millennium BC.

As of 2013, the value of the yoga industry in the USA alone stood at an estimated USD 27 billion, with over twenty million practitioners. Along with traditional Ashtanga, Hatha, and Vinyasa yoga forms, fitness enthusiasts have come up with new ways to promote yoga as aerial yoga, hot yoga, and rope wall yoga.

To conclude, a healthy human capital is only desirable, but also essential for a thriving economy. A WHO study claims that an average 10-year surge in life expectancy at birth is linked to an upsurge in economic growth of some 0.3-0.4% a year. Asian countries such as South Korea Malaysia, China, and Thailand have been successful in improving health indicators that led to sustained economic growth.

It has been proven that health improvements led the economic heave in these countries.

Every second counts in the hyper-connected world of sports

Sports plays a huge part in forging people’s personal as well as tribal and national identities and the act of watching, playing and talking about sports is ancient (as the arenas in Rome or Athens would attest).

With smartphones, social media and crowd funding as well as other technological developments making interesting waves, we are likely to see even more disparate connections being established as micro groups of people find each other and enjoy the sports that they love.

The Internet is largely to thank for this as personalization and integration of multiple content streams and increasingly sophisticated video technology are defining how we talk about sports today.

It is no longer the major networks that determine things.

Players, fans and leagues have become content creators and video technology is becoming so advanced that it seems cameras will be able to catch up to wearable technology in the not so distant future.

The growth of Communication Technology and Social Media now brings billions of potential new fans to the table, with young millennials largely preferring to stream content from their devices instead of watching the game on TV, humorous bloopers can be more important than who won or lost and may even go viral!

This generation is set to be accustomed to ‘volumetric video’ and toggling between different points of view mid game is becoming a norm for them.

Living in the age of Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and Snapchat where conversations are becoming immediate and richer, live streaming seems to have become a staple.

Amazon is streaming Thursday Night NFL games for Prime members and Facebook has expressed their interest in live streaming college sports as well as featuring NFL game highlights and recaps through a deal with the NFL.

Pro sports teams like the Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia Eagles have promoted Instagram Stories content live in stadium and now, live social content is blasted on the giant video displays in stadiums.

Data has shown that 98% of sports marketers choose social media as the number one way to fully leverage sponsorships.

As with other segments of the digitally connected economy, niche groups of sports enthusiasts also known as Alt-Athletes are getting together and building platforms on a scale that may even rival mainstream sports.

Largely individual sports, these niches are now building communities to talk about rock climbing, parkour, skateboarding and bungee jumping with shows like Run Junkie, produced by FloSports as well as many other shows dedicated to these niche sports.

Video channels featuring Alt-Athletics make individual athletes famous and draw millions of views while advances in technology are changing almost every aspect of running a professional sports franchise.

Communities rule in the hyper-connected era of sports and thrive on conversation with communities of people banding together to affect the industry such as this Change.org petition to remove Russia as host of the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Craig Barry, head of content for Turner Sports says that “The same way that tech is evolving, content is evolving,” with pregame shows now beginning the conversation around the game and then jumping into the conversation that’s already happening online.

Turner Sports has also created shows specifically designed for social media/online platforms with these platforms becoming a more central focus instead of an after thought of television.

Fighting through the stands for an autograph from your favorite athlete used to be the only way to go, however, in 2013, T-Mobile hosted the first ever Tweetup as part of the MLB All-Star game in NYC with 2013 MLB Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper, allowing fans to tweet him while getting replies in real-time.

The business of commenting on sports is also evolving, through personalities such as former ice skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir who are engaged with their audiences and big on social media with Weir’s work at the Kentucky Derby garnering amazing social engagement across multiple platforms.

Using social to drive audiences to NBC’s platforms, the company has spoken about its “most comprehensive social media plan ever,” a 24/7 effort that includes partnerships with Instagram, Buzzfeed, Facebook and Snapchat.

Today, professional sports photographers such as Brad Mangin have shed their massive, telescopic cameras for the more handy iPhone 6s Plus.

Brad Mangin, who has been a professional sports photographer for more than two decades explains that using the iPhone provides many advantages from being able to gain access to areas he couldn’t have before to getting more honest shots due to his subjects letting their guard down, telling audiences a different story that only the small camera can capture.

The world of sports financing has also become smaller and barriers are being torn down with micropayments that allow kids to share fractional royalties with leagues.

No longer dependent only on traditional sources of revenue such as sponsorship and ticketing, clubs can now leverage crowdfunding (or as some put it Fanfunding).

Sports clubs are starting to realize that they have a one up over many other businesses and are utilizing their legions of online fans and engaged supporters (the 30 most followed clubs have more than 1 billion followers across all social channels) to establish a different sort of financing model.

Since 2010, crowd funding is part of a $432bn phenomenon and clubs can expand their wallets as well as their reach and engagement all at the same time through this cost-effective financing model.