School of Information Studies' professor Dave Lankes speaks on new project:
Dr. David Lankes, associate professor and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse, spoke with The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding his newest project, "Credibility Commons". Dr. Lankes is co-director of the project with Dr. Michael Eisenberg, professor and dean emeritus at the University of Washington's Information School.
The full text article from The Chronicle of Higher Education is as follows:
Researchers Cooperate to Create Better Ways of Finding Reliable Information Online
By VINCENT KIERNAN
Information Technology Researchers cooperate to create better ways of finding reliable information online.
Researchers from two universities are working together to develop technology and techniques for assessing the credibility of information on the World Wide Web.
The researchers, from Syracuse University and the University of Washington, have received a grant to establish a Web site called the Credibility Commons. On the site, the researchers will share computer programs that they and others have written to help users find credible online information. They also plan to gather feedback from Internet users on the ease and reliability of various methods for finding information on the Web, such as using search engines and posting questions on blogs.
Librarians, college instructors, and other information specialists frequently complain that the quality of online information varies widely and that credible information is too hard to find, notes R. David Lankes, an associate professor of information studies at Syracuse who is co-director of the Credibility Commons. Users often decide whether to believe a particular Web site's information on the basis of how professional the site appears or how closely the site's information matches their own views, he says.
One possible solution that the Credibility Commons will investigate, he says, would be creating a search engine that would direct users toward Web sites to which skilled searchers, such as reference librarians, frequently direct their users.
Any software developed in the project will be available free from the Credibility Commons Web site, Mr. Lankes says. The only restriction will be that anyone who uses the work as the basis for new software will have to share that new software on the site, too.
"If you use it, you've got to share what you used it for," he says.
He also envisions the site's sponsoring a "digital reference face- off" in which experts in various searching strategies would try their hands at answering questions. The public would be invited to vote on the most effective technique.
The project is being run on a two-year $250,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Mr. Lankes said that he and Michael Eisenberg, a professor in Washington's Information School who is the project's other co-director, hope to attract additional grants.