Friday, December 3, 2010

RE: Cablegate from Wikileaks: a case study

Posting to NGC4LIB

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
<snip>
Yes. We've got universal, unified, globalized habits of dealing with questions, everybody is expert in it, and it is now tightly woven into the fabric of everyday life worldwide. We've gotten used to it like tap water, electricity and gasoline.
If only
a) it weren't like putting all eggs (globally!) in one basket
b) there were something to fall back on in case of failure.
</snip>
Too true. People really and truly trust Google and they have a seriously misplaced faith in "relevance" ranking. See for example, "Students trust high Google search rankings too much" http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/07/alt-title-students-place-too.ars but very strange is the frightening story "A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web" http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html, which discusses how a "businessman" discovered how his Google rankings go *up* when people complain, so he decided to make his customers so unhappy they would complain, his search standing goes up and he thereby makes more money! In response to this story, Google tweaked their results, see "Google Changes Search Results After Story About Misleading Retailer Rankings" http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/12/02/131753456/google-changes-search-results-after-story-about-retailer-rankings?ft=1&f=1001, so things apparently work differently now, but of course, what the tweaks did to other searches remains to be seen, and in any case Google changes must remain secret.....

In my experience, everybody is worried about the quality of the information they get on the web (just as those poor people in that terrible story from the NY Times above). Libraries and their methods could be an important part of a solution. I keep thinking that if there is a solution to this bizarre situation, (and much else) it will have something to do with Ross Atkinson's idea of a Controlled Zone [http://units.sla.org/division/dst/Annual%20Conference%20Contributed%20Papers/2006papers/Daureen%20Nesdill%20Atkinson%27s%20Control%20Zone.pdf] and how people will be able to interoperate with that zone. One way may be through some kind of a limit to a regular Google search (or whatever the most popular search tool will be in the future). Perhaps the method will be with browser plugins or something similar.

No comments:

Post a Comment