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Scrape the Web, Future is Brighter – Though the Road is Bumpy…!!!

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Scrape The Web

Internet is huge – massive – extremely complex and is evolving at an incredible speed! If reports are to be believed around 90% of entire data generated across the world in last two years can be found on the World Wide Web. Such mammoth data makes it difficult to find relevant piece of information, the one that you need. Though, it consumes time, energy and most importantly resources; every industry has to rely on web research services to learn and catch the undercurrents of market.

Concept of research is not something new for business-houses – From time immemorial; businessmen and traders are using this technique of researching data for facts, figures and trends; to catch the nerve of the market and leverage profits. Extending the same concept; top web research services have been proving quite helpful to various industries to get their share of insights! With internet research reaching new heights; it is now bifurcated into various sub-services like data mining, web scraping, data extraction, and many more.

Each of them follows the same fundamental, but with a little difference. Web scraping, though, having negative connotations, is being quite a help. We discussed about how ethical is data harvesting in one of our previous articles. So, let us ponder over web scraping and see what future holds for it? – But, first let’s start with a short definition of internet scraping, so that we have a better picture:

According to the definition given on Technopedia web scarping is “Web scraping is a term for various methods used to collect information from across the Internet. Generally, this is done with software that simulates human Web surfing to collect specified bits of information from different websites. Those who use web scraping programs may be looking to collect certain data to sell to other users, or to use for promotional purposes on a website.

Undoubtedly, there is lot of criticism and negativity around the entire web scraping thing; still one can see that it is enjoying lot of popularity thanks to the fact, that it has its own set of advantages (when used ethically, of course!) for businesses. The future of internet scarping seems to be quite promising, still, many industry experts have expressed their doubts over some of the serious challenges, and it might face in the coming days.

Here, we have tried to identify some of them and have outlined these problems would come up!

  • With rise in data, redundancies in web scraping have become a common thing. It has no longer remain a domain for the coders; as a matter of fact, many companies nowadays, offer customized scraping tools. This has given rise to a situation where one web crawler goes for broad scraping, and the others scrape data from API; leading to text retrieval attracting more attention than multimedia. And to add to this problems; websites are getting more complex enforcing limited scraping capacity.
  • Privacy concerns – It has been the most nagging problem. With free availability of data (most of it voluntary); imposing strict legislation has become the top priority. Intentional or unintentional; sometimes, users easily take advantage. In short, the real challenge lies in creating an awareness – An awareness among scarpers to use ethical means and not purposefully violate “do not scrape” policies to make things worse.
  • In continuation with the above point, acceptance of “open data” has gained quite a pace; though, it hasn’t been implemented the way it should be – Which again is a challenge! Till now, it was believed closed data is the best way to gain an edge over competitors.

However, mindset is changing – of late, websites are opening themselves and are offering APIs and embracing open data. Many successful sites like Twitter, LinkedIn etc. are opening the APIs, however, with paid services as well as keenly thwarting scraper and bots.

Though, there are many bumps in the road; there are hopes! And this is purely because the massive growing need in data and the need to get the right information.

Ritesh Sanghani
About the Author: Ritesh Sanghani is a Director at Hi-Tech BPO for the past 10+ years. Ritesh has worked with several international clients and has executed BPO projects of varying scales and complexities.
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