The development of the internet is often credited with bringing the benefits of mass communication & information sharing to the public. While it’s certainly true that for the first time in history almost everyone has access to almost all information, in many places quality is sacrificed for quantity.
One the one hand, public projects such as public-edited encylopedia WikiPedia have shown that given the right framework individuals are able to produce useful and progressive communities. On the other hand we have spam, harassment and fanatical politics.
Finding the Source
What we are talking about fundamentally is quality of information – the difference between a useful resource and a fanatical website. Unfortunately, the web as yet provides no foolproof means of distinguishing the two.
Common experience has given us a number of hints to pick up on – e.g. fanatical websites are usually badly designed. These are the same means we might use to identify a lunatic in the street. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving. Equally importantly, they are not available to people with impaired vision.
Can we ever be sure of the quality of the information we are receiving? For all we know Thomas Jefferson may be the 4th President of the United States, My Machine may not really be by Princess Superstar and George Bush may be a fundamental crackpot. Oh wait.
Of course, the standard answer to this (in academic senses) is to double- (and triple-) check your sources. Unfortunately this falls down in real life usage – checking every fact read in a newspaper would be tedious and often quite impossible.
How can we provide a means for making an instant, fundamental, assessment of the validity of a source – and one that we can trust?
Intelligent Referencing will look at the methods for referencing currently in existence on the web, then expand to produce a dynamic, reliable system across media.