A couple of thoughts on this issue:
I don't believe there's any way to prove the Internet is less reliable
than printed material. What makes any information source reliable is
the value it places on it's reputation. That generally translates to
more trust and thus brings back the consumers of that source's
information. That in turn usually translates into money (hey, maybe
there's a way to measure it: how big is the online vs offline
The Internet is still new. However, it is continuously evolving and
producing better ways for us to rate information providers who thus
quickly build an online reputation which can make them or brake
them. The more the Internet helps do that, the more the qualityof the
information improves (as opposed to only the quantity) whether it be
ebay/amazon ratings or the online reputations of bloggers, publishers
or news organisations. It'll always be imperfect (the long tail can
hide a lot of trash) but I think unltimately it is a better
information market than printed matter.
On Tue, 14 Jun 2005 07:45:48 -0700, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:
>> As we 'Inform Ourselves to Death' (see the Digest #263, over last
>> weekend), it has truly gotten to the point that information has no
>> value any longer. But Lisa, some of us do _try_ at least. PAT]
> Regarding vanity press, the reality is that most books printed that
> way end up in the author's basement.
> I recall reading a "tell-all" book about the phone company a
> disgruntled employee wrote years ago. He made fun of the standardized
> office layout, decor, and furnishings of each level of management.
> His books had an occassional point of interest, but most of it was
> griping of someone who just didn't fit in a strictly standardized
> world (and a lot of people do have trouble with that.) If they had
> the Internet back then, I bet he have a huge web page collecting
> gripes from every person who had a fight with their service rep.
> My argument is that sure -- there were plenty of disgruntled Bell
> System employees and plenty of customers poorly served. But one must
> look at the bigger picture of the TOTAL number of happy employees and
> satisfied customers. I doubt the above writer would bother to mention
> that statistic on his webpage.
> I doubt too many people read his book (I found it at a yard sale).
> But with the ease of the Internet and search engines it may have
> reached more people and spread inaccurate information.
> Another concerns is that information overload depreciates the value of
> information. Part of that concern is the ease of Internet
> I've been in a number of discussions (both on-line and off-line) about
> issues where debaters use Internet sources to bolster their case. But
> often times those sources tell only a small part of the story. For
> issues that interest me, I have printed copy references from either
> books I own or library resources that tell a bigger picture and
> different story.
> For example, in a debate about public transit in Philadelphia, several
> people claimed the system was losing money for years and near
> collapse. I have the company's annual reports that show that claim
> was wrong. In debates about Amtrak, I have printed literature stating
> Amtrak's purpose was to supplement highways and airways that were
> unable to handle all national travel needs.
> The ease of the Internet/computer databases are a wonderful tool and I
> don't dispute that at all (more below). But I remain troubled that
> the Internet has too much garbage on it drowning out valid
> * * *
> Admittedly, researching material in print is tiring. I recently did
> some research the old fashioned way -- pulling out bound indexes,
> scanning them multiple times in multiple years for various keywords,
> then writing down the hits. Then, I searched the microfilm rolls for
> journals and dates for the hits. Then, the individual roll of
> microfilm had to threaded through the reader and slowly searched
> sequentially for the particular issue date and finally the article.
> Sometimes the reward for this would be merely two sentences. THEN, I
> have to start all over with another reel. After a while this gets
> quite tiring. The only saving grace is that no one seems to use
> microfilm anymore and I have the reader room all to myself.