P.D. Magnus (research)

Reliability on the Crowded Net

This was presented at MacHack 16 (June 2001) and published in the conference proceedings. I would talk more about blogs if I wrote it today, but I think that the central claims are all still tenable.

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On-line, just as off-line, we have ways of assessing the credibility of claims that are made. The Internet, although it arguably makes for nothing wholly new in this regard, does complicate the ordinary task of assessing credibility. Many of us already use the Internet as a reference of first resort, and so we face this problem of applied epistemology: Given that we look to the Internet to answer questions, when and how should we think that it gives us good answers?

In the first section, I consider a specific example and argue that Internet content providers have no clear interest in resolving these complications. In the second, I consider the four general ways that we might assess credibility and explore how they apply to life on-line. Finally, I argue that even careful information gathering may pose subtle pitfalls and suggest finally how some of these may be mitigated on-line.


	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {Reliability on the Crowded Net: Finding the Truth in a Web of
	BOOKTITLE = {MacHack 16 (proceedings)},
	YEAR = {2001},
	ORGANIZATION = {MacHack: the Conference for Leading Edge Developers},
	NOTE = {\url{http://hdl.handle.net/1951/25991}}