The Web as a Source and Repository of Information?

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Posted by Steve Price on March 02, 1999 at 09:34:09:

Dear Friends,

One obviously revolutionary property of the web is that we can put information onto it and retrieve information from it so easily. That has some real advantages, obvious ones, but there are some serious disadvantages as well. Some that occur to me include:
1. There's more misinformation than information. This stems directly from the fact that there are, for all practical purposes, no filters on the input side of the web. It provides a megaphone to any moron with a computer and a phone line. Folks can offer pronouncements that sound very learned (especially to those who know little and, therefore, are most in need of education) but untrue. Sometimes the person who put the misinformation up is simply a not-very-knowledgable poseur, sometimes because he or she has ulterior motives (usually commercial) for misinforming the readers. This isn't peculiar to the rug part of the web, of course, it's quite general. Unfortunately, I doubt that there is a cure for the problem.
2. There's an ephemeral element to information (and, fortunately, to misinformation!) on the web. Discussion board postings are virtually ignored once they are a few weeks old, so a lot of their content gets repeated at fairly frequent intervals. This, too is not rug-specific, but a general characteristic of discussion boards (the Merrie Bande at TurkoTek hopes that archiving our Salons and, ultimately, adding a search engine to the archives, will make our discussions of more lasting significance. We'll see.).
3. Somehow, browsing in a personal library turns out to be more productive in many ways than browsing on the web. My suspicion is that this will change in the future.

Steve Price

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