Monday, September 15, 2008

A Trust Meter for the Web

The web is a cacophony of voices. Some might say a symphony of voices, loving the free flow of information, thoughts, and proposals. Oh, wondrous world of information!

Except, how do you trust that information?

Many trust news organizations, but so many now on the web have a bias that isn't immediately stated.

Do we trust blogs as a source of information? Possibly some, and certainly many that are personal blogs relating their own life experiences. Yet, it only takes one person fictionalizing a tale for the readers' collective trust to vanish.

Just search for some information on an illness, and you will receive information from medical institutions and from some site touting the use of an alternative therapy. On which do you confer your trust?

Add to all of this our own internal bias to gravitate towards that which comforts. We are more willing to discount a story or fact that does not conform to our own thoughts.

When I read this story on the BBC yesterday, my interest peaked:

Warning Sounded on Web's Future

Talking to BBC News Sir Tim Berners-Lee said he was increasingly worried about the way the web has been used to spread disinformation.

Sir Tim was speaking in advance of an announcement about a Foundation he has helped create that will vet websites.

The Foundation will certify sites that it has found to be trustworthy and a reliable source of information.

Sounds like a pretty good idea. What about you? What makes you trust a web site?


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

My only question would be how do we know to trust Sir Tim's judgment on these matters?

Sarabeth said...

Well, Sir Tim did invent the internet (unlike Al Gore), so I'm sure he knows a bunch of people who could work on what is considered trustworthy.

molly said...

Libraries! :)

Librarians compile lists of trustworthy sites, purchase content that is trustworthy and teach people to think critically about each site and look for -- Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Coverage, & Currency of the web site...but that takes a lot of time.

Lots of scholars/faculty argue for the importance of peer review and the scholarly publishing process (most of that stuff is not free on the web)

Did you see this story about the stock price of united falling because a reported got some outdated information off of a google news site?

Sarabeth said...

Ack! No I didn't. Thanks for linking to it.

And, I hadn't thought about libraries as a source to find trusted web content. Thanks, Molly! You rock, you librarian, you.