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What Can Be Done About Improving the Quality of Information on the Internet?

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.


Once upon a time things were really different

I guess I should start this off with a disclaimer. The concept of the internet is something I fully support. The idea of moving towards the information age is something I fully support. I would like to note before my thesis that I said walking towards not in as far as the information age and today. I believe, however, that the reality of what the internet is today, makes it impossible in the short run for us to cross into the information age.

We are in the age of disinformation. When I was younger, I had an article published in a peer-reviewed poetry journal. I was so happy. First, that other poets read my work, and then secondly that they said yes, this is worthy of publication. Later I had articles published in peer-reviewed journals as part of my professional career. In all cases knowing that someone else read, agreed with, and then published my item was critical to me.

All of this to get to my thesis, that we have a problem. That the internet ultimately is creating, propagating, and expanding the problem that we have. That information has value, but the report also has a life span. The internet is preventing us today, from moving to the information age.

First, in fairness to the readers, I wanted to define information. Information is something we need that solves a problem. When your coffee maker breaks, you don't look on the internet for ways to change a flat tire. You type in your coffee maker's name, the problem you have, and hope someone else has solved the problem. As long as the repair options are not dangerous, or require breaking your coffee maker, you can try them. If, however you get lucky and find a video made by the manufacturer of your coffee maker, telling you how to fix your problem, it is even better. You need the information to solve a problem; finding reputable sources is even better.

Secondly, the concept of the internet is incredible. I am not anti-internet. Just not a huge fan of how it works together. We use the various search engines to go and plunge into the internet to see if we can find the answer to our problem, a broken coffee maker. But what about situations where we shouldn't trust the information, what happens then?

I read posts on the internet every day. Sometimes I find myself groaning. Sometimes, I comment on the job and leave links to 2, 3, or 300 more credible articles that debunk, disprove, or dismiss the post information I am reading. But, I find the further I wander the internet, the more sections I see that have information that is at best unreliable.

The rise of Information Brokers and Information Merchants

Look, there is an easy answer, dismiss any information source you don't like as fake. But then you have to have a reason to dismiss any specific source. You also have to have a source that produces information you trust as you go forward. If all the information sources are pronounced fake, then there isn't a valid information source left.

Once upon a time, the rules for publication have submitted an article, send a book, and wait for an expert or group of experts to review the information. If they agreed or disagreed but found merit in your argument, they would publish the article, poem, or book. We would then stand outside the book store, waiting for it to open so that we could consume validated information.

On the internet, anyone can publish information. They can create a theory, conspiracy or simply talk about another person, without having to have someone looking over their shoulder. They, the publisher has no responsibility other than publishing the information. Again going back to my original point, I am not against the internet. I am not anti-self publication. I am concerned that because anyone can publish the internet is now full of more bad information than useful information.

A few years ago, I wrote a book with the concept of what I called information brokers and informational merchants. The solution to the problem rather than forcing an editorial system for the great unwashed internet instead let's apply the column system to information. In the scenario I described and developed for the publication years ago, the system is easy.

I need the information.

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I go to the information market, either via a smartphone, tablet, or pc application. I ask an information broker to find me all the relevant information about my question. The Information broker provides access to experts who cull both sides of the problem you are trying to solve. Consider the broker a hunter who function it is to find, and bring information back. The hunter doesn't prepare the game, nor does the hunter guarantee the quality of the data. Just that the report covers both sides of what you originally asked.

The other side of the market is the Information Merchants, and they provide blocks of known right information packaged for easy consumption and containing information that you have requested. Information brokers gather information quickly and present you with both sides. Over time the information they collect on specific topics becomes "vetted," and the information moves from the brokers to the merchants.

You would leverage an Information Broker for specific detailed information about a problem that is immediate. Most likely, your process would be to search the internet. Try the solutions there; if that doesn't work, go to the information broker. If the broker doesn't work, then see if the Merchant has a collection of information that may fit.

All of this to solve a simple problem, the internet is an ocean of information. Your job is to climb to the top of the 50-foot platform and dive into the ocean that is the internet.

By the way, the ocean is only 4 inches deep.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 DocAndersen


DocAndersen (author) from US on April 22, 2020:

my apologies for missing the true depth of the shallow sea!

i agree but now, there are no limits to publication which is fine, but without limits and standards, we get the 3.5 inch sea of molasses.

Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on April 21, 2020:

Disinformation and misinformation were always out there being circulated. But then we embraced technology and found out how smart we truly are. So the PRE-tech purveyors of bad info and data were excused for being ignorant. It wouldn't be logical to think that those very same people who were “ignorantly” disseminating disinformation and misinformation and lies are the same folks who found a new “tech toy” that allows them easily dump their “garbage” on the masses. Why on earth would they want to do that? (O.o)

By the way, the ocean is 3.5 inches deep. LOL.

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