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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Credibility & Authority Of Information Sources & Ranking Synthesised Information

We recently covered the topic Independent Publishing Social Networking & EPIC wherein we covered the perspective - "Newsmasters will be the key news directors and producers of the future.They will be able to connect,filter and prioritize information for every media-consumer on the planet,using a single source of media content that contains everything that anyone could possibly ever want to know about. That single source is called EPIC: The "Evolving Personalized Information Construct".Some of the likely things to happen form this perspective runs like this:In future people shall have access to a breadth and depth of information unimaginable in an earlier age". We also covered in the post Future Of RSS In The Covergent World where we wrote,"Anybody watching the AP - Googlenews fracas must be concerned - Conventional media ought to be concerned,as aggregators can pick up news at no cost/min cost - web technology proponents must be concerned, as technology adoption for innovative advancements are geting blocked. We are moving to a world where - from a single interface - we can keep tabs on many, many, many more sources of all different types of information (as long as we can understand the set up procedure)".
Ramesh Jain raises the issue of ranking by Popularity, Credibility & Authority in the search and synthesis mechanisms that are currently in place. He starts by asking,"When we are looking for any information on a topic, we usually want the information to come from a source that we can trust. But trust alone is not enough". Source trust may not reflect on depth in topic coverage which may not correlate to popularity. Search engine also collects all information on the links from one page to the other and all statistics related to that that could possibly be collected. Now that the search information database has all this information how can it provide authoritative, trustworthy, popular information?The current search approaches based on page ranking do good job in judging the popularity of a page. But what about trustworthiness or about authoritativeness? Is there any relationship between the credibility of the page? Can we say that this page is from an expert or is it just a commercial? How can we bring those elements in ranking pages? Can we really develop a measure based on some objective approaches, as has been done for page ranking based on popularity, for other trust and authority?
Ramesh highlights that social filtering approaches and recommendation engines don’t even go in that direction. As the popularity measures that are easy to implement, not enough effort has been made to measure authority and credibility. A professor from Harvard is seen more an more authority than a professor from other universities; and a story in New York Times more credible than in National Enquirer. I agree with Ramesh - Efforts to classify data and arrive at such emerging inferences in the online world is an absolute imperative given the central role that the online world are set to achieve.

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