Slug: librarians-google-blogs-wot Date: 2002-04-27 Title: Librarians, Google, Blogs, WOT layout: post

Ok, follow me here. Jenny at The Shifted Librarian asked why people use Google over the local library when researching.

Brandon commented:

[his students], strangely enough, find that availability on the net is a greater indicator of credibility than passing through traditional publishing gates.

He goes on to wonder if blogs could be tool for helping to establish online credibility. This leads me to my next thought: Web Of Trust.

The Web Of Trust is the concept of a network of users who rate either resources or other users based on how much they trust the information at that resource, or the opinion of the other user. We do this everyday in our minds, evaluating what our friends are saying about their friends, etc. Epinions uses a Web of Trust among its reviewers:

Your Web of Trust is a network of reviewers whose reviews and ratings you have consistently found to be valuable.

  • The Web of Trust mimics the way people share word-of-mouth advice every day. Friends have a proven track record. If a friend consistently gives you good advice, you’re likely to believe that person’s suggestions in the future.
  • You know which preferences you and your friend share. If you both like the same types of films, you’re more likely to trust your friend’s recommendations on what to see.

So… what does that have to do with blogs and librarians? Blogs often include lists of links to other sites the user visits or likes - this is an implicit web of trust. Google uses this information (for all sites, not just blogs) for its PageRank&trademark;. However, Google’s algorithm is a bit shaky (for this idea) because a link doesn’t contain any context as to why you’re linking to the site - it could be becuasee you think the site’s authors are morons!

So… enter a blog-powered Web Of Trust where not only does one link to sites, but one can annotate that link with concepts or keyword for which the site is considered by the user to be a credible resource. Search engines could factor this information in when crawling sites, leading to more efficient topical information retrieval.