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OPLIN 4Cast #259: A plan for improving Internet information

Posted in 4cast

We all know that the Internet contains an abundance of misinformation. Librarians often spend a lot of time explaining to their patrons that you can’t believe everything you read on the ’Net. But what if you could attach critiques to news stories, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation and regulations, software code, and more? Wouldn’t that improve the quality of information on the Internet? That’s the hypothesis behind

  • a peer-review layer for the whole Internet (ReadWriteWeb/Marshall Kirkpatrick)  “It’s a peer review system to check, verify and critique content all over the Web – and beyond. ‘Improving the credibility of the information we consume is humanity’s grandest challenge,’ [project leader Dan] Whaley says. Topic experts will be enlisted in addition to crowdsourcing, a reputation system, browser plug-ins and APIs are on the roadmap and all the data will be stored at the Internet Archive.”
  • Would your blog stand up to criticism? Here comes peer review (Forbes/Haydn Shaughnessy)  “How do we, writers and readers, decide the viewpoints that really make sense, that make a contribution and somehow move us on? Through Facebook likes? Really? And what do we make of the obligation to play a bit part in the science of the day, the world we live in, to make more sense of it rather than add to the noise? If you blog you should care about critique.”
  • could become a crucial tool for skeptics (SkepTools/Tim Farley)  “There is a huge amount of misinformation out there. People believe in pseudoscience, the paranormal and more. They make bad decisions based on these beliefs that have very bad consequences. The job of scientific skepticism is to point out the errors in the information underlying these belief systems, and help people learn to find their way away from them. But the platforms (web sites, blogs) on which these ideas are espoused are often biased.”
  • a Kickstarter project to peer review the Web (TechCrunch/Erick Schonfeld)  “People in the system with the highest reputations can up-vote the best comments and down-vote the worst ones. It’s like Quora or StackOverflow applied to the entire Web. Web annotation services never seem to take hold (see Third Voice, Reframe It, Diigo, etc). But if you could actually add a layer of comments that revealed better information than on the underlying page, it might have some appeal.”

Standards fact: is based on a new draft standard for annotating digital documents that is currently being developed by the Open Annotation Collaboration, a consortium that includes the Internet Archive, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), O’Reilly Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others.