Keeping in the disaster track for another day, an article about using the
Wikipedia as a way of communicating
information about Avian Flu
as a means of keeping people informed before an outbreak occurs:
WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Getting Smart About Disasters:
In the days and weeks
following, questions of how best to identify, communicate and report on the
possibility of disaster consumed many weblogs and media outlets. What tools
could be used to make sure that a tragedy of this magnitude could not happen
The tsunami wasn't an instantaneous disaster, many people were killed or
injured hours after the initial event. There were two problems: how do you
tell people that there's a 10 metre wave approaching, and what are they
actually supposed to do?
important tool we have, of course, is information. Knowing what to do before
disaster strikes makes smart responses far simpler, as can having access to
good information once a crisis is underway.
What I find interesting in this use of Wikipedia is the rise of informal,
collaborative information systems as the authoritative source of information
about subjects. There are blogs which are the authoritative source of
information about given topics, usually maintained by a few individuals if not
simply a single person. They obsess about the topic, covering a variety of
The professional media will claim that informal, amateur sites
like these are not objective or thorough, that they don't present “both
sides” of a dialogue (as if there are always only two sides to a
But these sites are authoritative. They're linked to as the
authoritative site, they turn up in the top ten on search sites, and in the
case of sites like Wikipedia, corrected or normalized to an attempt at a neutral point of
The professional media is losing relevancy because
content is short, trite, repetitive, and transitory.
News articles are
tied to their publication times...they appear briefly then slip away into
password protected, sometimes pay-for-access, archives. Some news sites even
just delete old content.
Some time in 1995, maybe 1996, my boss at IBM had a notion of domains
I'm thinking it was 1995, because otherwise a professional would have created this graphic:
rather than myself using MS Paint.
Anyway...the intent was that we (IBM) should create various portals of
information around topics to draw people in, then you tout the
various IBM products and services available related to the content of the
portal, but as a supplement to the content not as the content. I
don't recall it being rejected out of hand and for a brief time there were
such portals, but in the end the marketing and sales side of the house won
out. And that's the general problem for business & professional media
sites: they can't see a direct line between providing the information
Although the usual goal of their presence on the web
is to draw readers to their site to take some sort of action (be it
order a product, download something, or click on an ad), they keep trying
to draw readers using pre-web methods, ignoring (still) the benefit of
seeding good content into search engines and letting it act as a draw into
the rest of your site.
information from others presumes that other people have access to good
How do you tell when information is good? Number of citations (inbound
links)? Comments from users? Unless you've been reading an information source
for awhile (an indeterminate amount of time greater than a few minutes and
less than a decade), how do you get to know and its reputation for value,
utility, and authority?.
e.p.c. posted this at 10:22 GMT on 14-Jun-2005 .
I am sometimes known for hyperbole, but the following is a truthful statement: every stinking mosquito egg in Amagansett apparently hatched today.
The last several nights I've been able to go outside at night unmolested...tonight?
Tonight I can't step outside without getting divebombed by mosquitos left and right.
e.p.c. posted this at 20:52 GMT on 14-Jun-2005 .