Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Credibility Commons: Improving Access to Credible Information?

Librarians and information specialists often express concern that the quality of online information varies widely and that credibility is an major issue. Consumers often decide whether to use the informaition on a web site based how professional the site appears or the site's information matches their personal views.

To address this issue, researchers from Syracuse University and the University of Washington have received a two-year $250,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to establish a Web service being called the Credibility Commons. Among other areas of research, the Commons will investigate the creation of a search engine that would direct users toward sites to which skilled searchers (reference librarians) frequently direct their customers.

An experimental Reference Extract site is already available.

According to the Credibility Commons project site, the project is an "experimental environment enabling individuals the opportunity to try out different approaches to improving access to credible information on the World Wide Web. Tools will be provided to researchers as well as the public, allowing them to try out search strategies, collections and other approaches to improving access to credible information. The Commons can be viewed as a collaborative space in which to share ideas, data sets, results and innovations."

The commons will have three primary components:

  • TriPart Research: a series of studies the span individual credibility behaviors to collaborative group credibility actions. These research activities are tied to an ongoing coherent research agenda. Research takes data from external studies, information from public use of credibility tools and the evolving capabilities of Internet tools.

  • Tools: working with developers and information providers regardless of industry sector or commercial status to incorporate new credibility tools and mechanisms into a wide array of information products. The commons shall facilitate translating the research of leading scholars and organizations into real tools and mechanisms.

  • Public: tools and research of the commons shall have validation in real use. A major component of the Commons shall be a public Internet presence with tools, tutorials, research reports, consumer guides, and means of taking in user feedback.

The Credibility Commons is an outgrowth of the American Library Association’s Office of Information & Technology Policy and the University of Washington investigation into the issues of credibility of Internet information. Sphere: Related Content

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