Knight Foundation woot!
Hey when they bringing Kitt back, and perms?
The rumours, disinformation and hoaxes that prosper online should be ghettoised by a new website credibility labelling scheme, according to Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The director of the World Wide Web Consortium told an audience at the launch of his new foundation yesterday he had been in discussions on "how the web can help us …
You run into the problem that "truth" is not always undisputed- witness the blithering simps in the Creationist camp, whose approach to science is every bit as risible as the OH NOES TEH LHC MAEK BLAK HOLE brigade, yet who are rich and have the ear of the govenment (and indeed in a lot of cases are members of the govenment) of the US.
New Paris, 'cos fixed width looking bloody awful on my desktop, laptop AND ipod touch is just a theory..
He's probably a smarter guy than I am, but the idea seems silly to me. Truthiness should come out of the fact that the amount of websites with the truth will outnumber the amount of cult-websites. It's the democratic nature of the net, much like the democratic nature of thoughts and opinions out in the real world. People can spread the wrong ideas and some will follow, but the majority won't.
The solution to avoiding cults and their stupid ideas is not to block the idiots, but to educate them (and everyone else). Good education and critical thought will make people look for second opinions and more information on subjects.
or does anyone else think that Tim Berners-Lee is much overrated. His innovative use of an existing technology was meant to solve some project documentation problems. It wasn't particularly clever and he certainly had no idea that it would become a world wide phenomenon.
Worshiping him is a bit like worshiping the engineer who designed the SMS system. SMS, a simple technology, was designed to update mobile phone software. It's roaring success as a communications tool was both unintended and unforseen.
If the techie who designed SMS started spouting off about the ethical or correct use of the mobile phone networks, nobody would listen. Why then do we listen to TBL? Good techie that he is, I've got serious reservations about him as a web visionary.
If they want to follow cults because they don't/can't use their brain to reason otherwise is good for the rest of us as it will clearly label them as someone to avoid, whereas without this label we could waste valuable minutes talking to these nutters before we come tot he conclusion that they are a nutter.
(Where's a Tom Cruise icon when you need one).
Quoth Sir Tim: "On the web the thinking of cults can spread very rapidly and suddenly a cult which was 12 people who had some deep personal issues suddenly find a formula which is very believable. A sort of conspiracy theory of sorts and which you can imagine spreading to thousands of people and being deeply damaging."
Like Christianity, maybe? That started with 12 blokes who thought their leader was the Messiah, and look how much misery that's caused in the past two thousand years.
Clearly a semantic web is not hubris enough for some. What the Great Unwashed need is a meta-semantic web. I can't quite see the attribute list though. TRUE | FALSE | UNDECIDED | UNDECIDABLE perhaps? Or TRUE | FALSE | HALF-FALSE? A decimal number between 0 and 1? Or SCIENCE | CULT? Or FACT | FACTOID | FICTION?
Obviously Sir Tim doesn't pay attention to the BBC, which did its bit for the LHC panic. Otherwise he'd be releasing his letter of complaint to the Trustees, not moaning about anonymous cults. I think the BBC is one of the biggest cluts around, so my preferred attribute list would be MENTIONED_BY_THE_BBC | NOT_MENTIONED_BY_THE_BBC.
But why not indulge Sir Tim. So I suggest a TIM_DIGS numeric attribute, and he can put in any number he likes - real, rational, or God oops Heaven forbid, transcendental. FFS even complex if no other category fits.
With humans there is rarely a truth, merely differing points of view. In science there is rarely a truth, only a theory that hasn't been disproved yet. So who, exactly, is going to decide what is true and what is not?
Will some truths be held to be more valid than others?
Will we see censorship of unpalatable truths, or truths which are no longer socially acceptable?
Has TBL been taken over by mind-controlling Thetans?
It doesn't seem that long ago that TBL etc were lambasting the idea of creating a two-tier WWW based on content. Whether such a system is based on ownership or 'proven truthiness' of content doesn't really make much difference since, in case they hadn't noticed already, it'll be those with the most money that come out ahead in either scenario.
How is this going to be implemented? Some kind of 'certificate of truthiness' available from, say, VeriSign?
Perhaps people are just going to have to terms with the fact that technology isn't ever going to come up with a substitute for personal judgement.
I'll give a f'rinstance... the whole MMR/autism scare. That wasn't propagated by the Internet, but by over-eager hacks looking for a salacious story. If Mr Berners-Lee can convince the newspapers to infect their articles with a "truthiness" rating first, then he will have my complete support in extending it to embrace the intarweb.
Yeah, like society needs that.
Some unaccountable organisation somewhere deciding what information on the internet can have a "TRUTH" stamp. Why don't we just hand the internet over to Communist China and be done with it...
Hey, if it don't have a "TRUTH" stamp, it must be a lie.
FOR FUCKS SAKE!
...name the Cult of Global Warming. Might be a bit unpopular that one.
Anyway, I'm all for having two branches of the web - one called TheCriticalWeb the other called TheRemainingSh*t - the latter would contain YouTube, FaceBook, and all the other remote (anti) socialising junk ! ;)
Seriously, though I agree that "truth" is very hard to define in any context. Even scientific "truth" is a bit mutable (as it should be) ....
Tho' I'm not sure I agree with Peter - I think the web shows how quickly a single crazy idea can spread and gain in influence. I've seen a number of large scale "reports" that actually boil down to one single very "noisy" individual with an axe to grind!
...and who, precisely, is going to determine what is 'good' information and what is 'bad' to enable "filter(ing) (of) good information from bad"?
Me? Sir Tim? Yankee Creationists? Fundamentalist Islamic Clerics? Born Again Christian Fundamentalists? Some of Nu Lab's seemingly endless supply of hysterical curtain twitchers? The 'Security Services' - if so, who's?
Basically, Sir Tim's 'hometown', CERN, has had some bad press. So, his solution? Turn the 'free and open web' into a censored politically correct (HIS politically correct of course) sanitised bland wasteland...
It would almost be funny, if it weren't so bloody sickening to see yet another liberal display alarmingly flexible principles as soon as he feels the least bit threatened.
Hey! Sir Tim! Do you recognise this acronym?
No , its just you. Most people (if they know who he is) think hes pretty great. He did create the web browser, web server , web language and first web pages. I guess because he didn't make billions of dollars you think he is overrated. He is a proper innovator unlike the others , jobs gates etc etc who just steal good ideas.
"Truthiness should come out of the fact that the amount of websites with the truth will outnumber the amount of cult-websites."
Except there's one truth and a million lies. And every lie has its own web page.
Still, there's nothing we can do about it, except assume everybody on the internet is an asshole unless proven otherwise. And it's very seldom proven.
I'd be quite happy to join a project that allows us to descriminate between what is fact and what is rubbish.... just so long as I'm not the one who has to explain to the gun-toting future VP of the US why all her favourite Creationist websites have been labelled 'this is all bollocks'.
obviously not the great web inventor himself, Thomas Bertrand Lister :).
How hard was it to rip off some SGML markup, and serve it via a text stream - not very is the answer.
The proliferation of the network has more to do with the web than HTML. So, p for paragraph, table for table, unordered list hmm ul, oh the genius. Ahh, we need to link it I know 'a' for anchor, what was he thinking, link would have done. And there is the irony, the one difference was the link and there he got it wrong.
Unfortunately, that kind of attitude isn't going to help. While The Brain Trust sit around ignoring everyone else, confident in their own superiority, the rest of the world gets more ignorant. This makes them more susceptible to indoctrination by the Creationist/IntelliDesign zealots, or more likely to accept without question all that BS the media was spouting last week about the world ending because a bunch of scientists have dared to mess with nature, shooting protons ONE WAY around a big ring.
Rather than laugh at our uninformed brethren, we must seek to teach them, so that they may go about their labour without breaking down and crying through fear of the sky falling.
If you Search a Cult of One, you Cannot Conspire with a Following Only Lead with Shining Examples.
The BugBear is always Unlimited Finance on Tap which AIMarkets Correction is Being Attended to, with Meltdown and ReStreaming of Currency Flows/Safe Haven Deposits
Maybe if 'respected' websites like the BBC etc posted the truth consistently we could say only visit these websites for the truth but truth is often twisted for someones own purpose. The only answer is to check many websites, if they all say about the same thing its the truth or someone very powerful has more control then we think.
Not sure what you're saying. "The Bible" can be selectively picked-from just like the writings of Nostradamus. Are you saying it's more "true" than Nostradamus? So, is the Koran not "true"? Does, say, the Quaker interpretation of the Bible have more validity than the interpretation that was used to justify the Crusades?
The reason hyperlinks don't cut it, and skew perspectives is because they don't convey the semantics of the reason for link - ie. "checkout this bullshit" etc.
...but this is actually very simply solved.
Persuade Mozilla/Opera/Safari/MS to implement an enhancement to the new <ping> attribute, that allows a simple form of voting on the "quality" of the content, which can then be conveyed in the ping.
The ping gets sent to your preferred provider (Google/Yahoo etc), which then assigns a TTL value to that link so as to skew it's search results accordingly, if the searcher so desires.
That way the internet community collectively can encourage a quality control mechanism on content.
There has been numerous studies done that show collective mass opinion can be significantly more accurate than small numbers of experts - even taken into account the opinions of the muppets in society.
OK, I've had a longer look at the changes. Sorry, doesn't work for me...
The area for advertising SEEMS much larger. I used to use the unfixed margins (cough, cough) to suit me so may be I'm being ultra picky. Don't think so and Adblock Plus still works at the moment.
The text has shrunk by a long way. I am slowly losing my sight (thanks to diabetes) and I can still walk down the road without colliding with walls/dogs/trees but I do find this new size hard work. Please don't send me blind before my days are up (stop that Finbar).
Just looking at the page in front of me here and there's a lot of "wasted" space.- presumably for the non-existent ads.
And as for those AWFUL icons - words fail me (apart from incoherent, inconsistent, incomprehensible and what did Paris do to merit that?).
Sorry El Reg (or should that be The Sun with that dreadful masthead) but nice idea - shame about the result.
...look no further than the following piece of reporting...
"Berners-Lee's proposed answer to this "problem" seems to be some kind of centralised
accreditation scheme [...] "I'm not a fan of giving a website a simple number like an IQ
rating because like people they can vary in all kinds of different ways," he said. "So I'd be
interested in different organisations labelling websites in different ways.""
So, er, just *how* do you get "Tim favours a centralised scheme." out of the quote that follows?
Oh no, are you proposing the "enwikification" of the World Wide Web? Isn't that what we have now with the Web 2.0, blogging, tagging, and of course, Wikipaedia? And isn't that what is taken to be the problem?
There has been numerous studies done that show collective mass opinion can be significantly more accurate than small numbers of experts--sure, for a very liberal definition of accurate. Just because every uninformed idiot agrees it is true, does not make it so.
I thought of this years ago. A proxy (or these days browser plugin) which could warn you that the website you were viewing contains bogus info and provide links to reliable content. I envisioned it for warning of hoax type scams rather than an all encompassing system.
The problem is that truth is often unknown or in dispute. Creationists would want pages on evolution marked as unreliable and visa versa, similarly some would want Scientology marked as dangerous while CoS would no doubt regard that as libellous.
Another alternative would be to subscribe to a list based on your prejudices, but this would reduce the possibility that a subscriber to one idea may be enlightened by another marked as unreliable.
You could also have a mechanism whereby alternative views are overlaid or available to readers of any website such that, for example, someone reading an ID site claiming that intelligent design is just as valid a theory as evolution could be made aware of why evolution is a a robust theory whose ideas can be scientifically tested whereas ID provides no such testable hypotheses.
Of course this would likely to lead to the same problem that already plagues the media - the idea that in order to be "balanced" you give equal weight to other views no matter how ridiculous.
When the browser is started up, have a large dialog box pop up saying "Warning - surfing the Web requires common sense. Please click OK to confirm that you have common sense, or click Forward to send this message to 30 friends, who will each donate 10p towards dying kittens, and close your browser [OK] [Forward]"
Barbara McClintock, Lynn Margulis, Tracy Sonneborn, Hannes Alfvén. How would their web sites have been labeled in the early stages of their careers? The scientific hegemony rejected them and few members of the public knew of them or the implications of their work. Would labeling of their sites have helped or hindered their work?
Which government sites will be labeled 'trustworthy'?
It's not much of a solution to use popular opinion or 'People Like Us' lists instead of expert opinion. If I ask friends' opinions, hopefully they vary somewhat. Otherwise I'm likely to be getting confirmation of prejudice rather than opinions.
The only solution to Tim Berners-Lee's problem seems to be to encourage people to think more and to think more critically; not an easy task.
Will there be also a 'Ministry of Truth" like in "1984" ?
Seems like a perfect way to censor truths not liked by the powers that be...
IE and Firefox will probably display a big warning popup:
Warning: this website has not been certified to be truthful by the Ministry of Truth!
does he not realise it is all cults.
See cults get into power, when they do they try and distance themselves from the label of cult.
So, for example when the Catholic leaders were in power (stemming from the Christain cult), they persecuted the scientific cult for their heresy.
Now, the scientist cult has got a bit of funding from the banking cult, it thinks it is about truth, but of course it is not, it is more about some odd people wearing lab coats, and drinking tea, whilst trying to destroy the planet as quickly as possible.
The Green cult which is just coming in, is trying to brainwash the kiddies into thiking the planet will go poof, unless they use one sheet of toilet paper, smells like crap to me :)
Yes Timothy, it is cults all the way down, and that includes CERN.
How do you get from Sir Tim's "So I'd be interested in **different** organisations labelling websites in **different** ways" to the article's "some kind of centralised accreditation scheme for websites"? It sounds more like Sir Tim's semantic web again than mind-control central.
Come on El Reg!
I'm still not convinced that the wisdom of mobs is aolways* a good idea though. When reading the web, remember Sturgeon's Law!
Of course I'll not stop reading El Reg - it's too funny for that - but bring back the dead vulture icon please...
*typo - but it made sense so I'm keeping it :-)
The sceptics do not require any evidence, for they are required to prove nothing. It is the Anthropogenic Global Warming zealots who require the evidence and the proof; matching predictions to the actual events. This is how science works.
The thinking world is still waiting this proof, meanwhile the sheep are forking over more taxes in the name of this (not proven) Anthropogenic Global Warming idea and destroying the environment at an increasing pace with their pious, smug and counter-productive schemes (wind farms, bio-fuels, hybrids using vast amounts of energy to manufacture etc).
All AGW to an MP is, is another excuse to raise taxes. It has no scientific validity. Up until MPs cottoned onto the tax wheeze and it became a public cause célèbre; it was ignored because it's unproven hokum.
...do you think I'm friggin' _stupid_ or something? At the age of fifty-one, I like to think I'm old enough to properly discern bullshit, especially having grown up here in the Good Old USA™, a leading world exporter of bullshit.
In my non-working life, I'm -- among other things -- on the editorial committee of the Independent Media Center here in Washington, DC, the bullshit capital of the USA, and I can tell you, I spend more than my share of time shit-canning posts from 9/11 Tr00th and Peak Oil freaks, so believe you me, I know my bullshit.
Thanks, but no thanks, TBL. Go do something useful.
"...sittin' in the garage with my bullshit detector..."
Perhaps the greatest thing about the web is that it isn't censored. It has created an environment where anyone can publish anything - whether it's support for Eugenics, stuff about Scientology, cars powered by water, or highlighting human rights abuses in Tibet. Some people are offended by these things and try to either shut them up or shut them down. The fact remains that the Internet has a culture of free speech. Information is now the hands of the individual, without any of the controls of an editorial or peer-review. So the onus is on the surfer to somehow not accept everything they read as "Gospel".
There's a question mark over whether Wikipedia is censored or not, but the end result is by-and-large very balanced, and has proven to be more reliable than people expected. But doing that for the entire Internet would IMHO destroy it, and put information back into the hands of the powerful. Come on Tim, surely you realise this.
I guess another consequence of this is that I'm going to have to get used to TheReg's new-look site.
Gotta love all the loony xtian fundies and related logic-free loons who always turn up like flies on poop at times like this. Poe's law makes it impossible to tell if they're just inbred simps, or Swiftian trolls with deadly poker faces and a wicked sense of humour.
Oh, RAWR for the return of some of the old icons by the way. Paris, 'cos she's back y'all.
I've given your suggestion years of thought, and I've come up with more or less the same conclusion as you... no absolute truth is possible (notwithstanding purely abstract mathematical truths which are, by necessity confined to the abstract realm in which they're formulated), but that shouldn't stop us having conceptions of truth. Like you, I think we should have more than a black/white idea of truth. After thinking on it for some time, I finally came to the conclusion that there are really only 5 valid conceptions of truth, namely:
1. existential (unitary/"there exists"/"a-priori")
2. dualistic (TRUE|FALSE)
3. quantised ternary (TRUE|FALSE|UNDECIDED or TRUE|FALSE|UNKNOWN or TRUE|FALSE|MAYBE)
4. spectral ternary (TRUE|FALSE|SOMEWHAT_TRUE, ie "fuzzy" truth variables)
5. quaternary (BOTH_TRUE_AND_FALSE|NEITHER_TRUE_NOR_FALSE|ONLY_TRUE|ONLY_FALSE, ie "relativistic" truth)
I have wondered whether there might be some more inclusive model which could encapsulate as many of the above as possible into one over-arching theory, but I'm sure that no such theory is possible since it would fall at the first Gödelian hurdle. Still, and somewhat germanely to the topic of the article, I decided I'd set up a blog to document some ideas along those lines. It's at project343.blogspot.com, if anyone's interested. It is, to borrow from AManFromMars's comment above, a Cult Of One. Stick that in your pipe, Mr. Berners-Lee...
If you look at the member list over at the w3 website (who TBL is speaking for) you will find a whole host of Big Pharma and other corporates who I'm sure would love to silence various bits of bad publicity that emanates from the net.
To sum it up, Mr Berners Lee is almost definitely bias and does not have the best interests of joe public, or the web in general, in mind.
Censor that Mr Lee....
@Chris, who said:
> Er, it is.
> "Sir Tim told BBC News that there needed to be new systems that would give websites a label for trustworthiness once they had been proved reliable sources."
> Keyword there is "give".
Actually, I don't think it is what he said. I think the key words are "new systems"! Notice he did not say "centralised systems".
There is no inconsistency between Sir Tim's "systems (plural) to give websites a label" (which you quoted) and "So I'd be interested in **different** organisations labelling websites in **different** ways" (which I quoted).
The article's conclusion (that Sir Tim advocates a central system), on the other hand, is nowhere to be seen in Sir Tim's actual words.
There is nothing inherently "centralised" about a system that allows various organisations to label websites. It's not so different from Digg, Redit, and various sites that allow their users to comment on or highlight websites.
If any organisation can use the same standardised format to associate labels with URIs (domains, pages, or whatever), then it CAN BE left up to readers to decide which labelling organisations to trust. There can even be (thinking laterally here) reputation facilities, perhaps implemented as more labels attached to [the websites of] the labelling organisations, so that if you prefer not to have your preconceptions challenged, you can stick to labellers who won't disagree with you. A "Last FM"-style label-scrobbler, if you will...
This is semantic web stuff, of the sort Sir Tim has been advocating for ages.
It doesn't have to be centralised.
It's just an extension of his previous ideas.
And standardising it "needs some work".
It could be quite good....
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