Sep 18, 2008

A distributed system for quality possible?

I agree with some of the things said in this post, and disagree with some other things. For example, the author, Scott Gilbertson, argues that any attempt to rate sites based on the likelihood that their content is true is doomed to fail. I agree, just as his explanation of information being messy, complex, opinionated, and often true, false inside a single phrase.

But I do not think that this automatically means that a distributed system of rating and evaluating websites (and content) is impossible. Since Trust and Truth are very messy, complex, and opinionated concepts themselves... take the Church for example, we clearly cannot define a top-down Trust system (or Ministry of Truth). Trust, quality, truth, etc. should all be socially defined, and thus have different connotations and definitions in different communities. These definitions themselves cannot be put into words, making a generic system impossible. What can be done, is to measure trust related parameters, which ARE generic. The recent increase of people being active online and sharing content allows for complex data retrieval and profiling algorithms for dynamically determining quality, trust, and truth concepts based on relevant parameters (use and users of information).

clipped from

In Tim Berners-Lee’s speech announcing the new World Wide Web Foundation, the author of the web’s foundation suggests that we need some sort of truth rating system to combat the proliferation on misinformation on the web.

While it may look like a good idea on first glance, it also bears some resemblance to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, a centralized body that arbitrarily decides what is true and what isn’t.

Berners-Lee doesn’t suggest that the web needs a Ministry of Truth, but instead says that he’d like to see a distributed approach where “different organizations label websites in different ways.”

Think of it as the Ministries of Trust

Knowing who to believe and what is true is hardly a new problem and certainly not one unique to the internet. Information is messy, complex, opinionated and often true and false inside a single phrase.
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