Monday, September 15, 2008

Do you trust this blog?

As most educated users of the Web know, there is a lot of misinformation, speculation and lies out there. So who better to trust on the future approaches to help users identify trustworthy sources of information than the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Reported on the BBC News website, Sir Tim discussed a range of issues facing the Web, as he publicized the creation of the World Wide Web Foundation.

Interestingly, the issues faced by consumers outside the firewall should be concerns for organizations deploying web style collaborative and social tools inside the firewall. In a small organization, my job title and personal contacts are usually enough to generate trust that the information I post on a Sharepoint site or blog is authoritative and can be used appropriately. People know me, or at least know of me, and trust that my role in the organization can help answer a question they have accurately.

In a large organization, as with the Web, reputation is harder to ascertain. Toby Bell at Gartner talks about reputation from many angles, often with the view that reputation can only come from the aggregation of everything you write and link to, as well as your closest contacts. This doesn't give me a view of someone new at a glance though, which is one of the issues that Berners-Lee would like to see addressed, since how many of us have time to read enough to really assess a person's authority.

I'm sure that there is no easy answer to this issue. Much as Wikipedia tries hard to separate truth from fiction, organizations need to be sure that formally published policies, procedures and compliance documents are instantly recognizable and clearly segregated from more democratically published information, however authoritative the author may be. For CYA that seems to be a defensible approach.

I strongly believe in the value of collaborative technologies. I don't know that they will change the world, but certainly as more of us try to travel less, their use will grow, and the risks of 'wild wild web' need to be understood to ensure we all realize their value.

A post from the Improving New Account Opening blog

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