Dangers of E2.0 and Semantics
By Raoul on Feb 24, 2009
As is so often the case in a media-driven world, the reality of the case is quite different from the headline. I chose this example because I'm a geographer by training, so it jumped out to me; but we could choose almost ANY science or statistics-based news story out there.
Where's the E2.0 beef? Well, we have to trust that people create content or tag content for altruistic reasons - not to get hits, kudos, or tenure. It's potentially a problem and we need to put procedures and incentives in place to reward good quality content rather than flashy headline content.
Update - based on Billy's comment
So this is where we revert to type. Billy is optimistic and believes in the wisdom of crowds, I tend to be somewhat more cynical about people's motivation. I do think that we can minimize to a certain extent the negative effects of headlining, exaggerating, and tagging by the methods Billy describes, but I'm not convinced it's all so simple. The trouble is (as with the example above, but perhaps I didn't explain my thought process clearly enough) that it's tough to control for cr*p that sounds convincing.
Don't believe me? Here's a perfect example of something worthless that bears all the indications of being useful. It's in a seemingly reputable place (although if you dug around, you'd find it's not peer-reviewed), it has graphs and math, it generates a lot of traffic and hits on google. But, it's completely wrong. Even if we assume the highest of principals to the author, the publishers, recommenders, and taggers - it's quite possible that every one of them wanted to be helpful - we still ended up more confused or misinformed after the fact than before.
Sometimes crowds are dumb.
Sometimes authors are misinformed or incorrect, or they seek to inflate their ego / rankings / visibility.
I'll hope, like Billy does, that these are exceptions rather than the norm, but we should be aware of the fact that our systems can be gamed and prepare for this eventuality.