The (most?) unreliable information medium

Is this skepticism merited? What is the quality and accuracy of historical information on the Web? With Google now indexing more than eight billion pages, a full qualitative assessment of historical information and writing on the Web is well beyond the ability on any person or even team of people. It is, in fact, akin to proposing to assess all the historical works in Billington’s own Library of Congress. Faced with that fool’s errand, we take a very different approach to assessing the quality of historical information on Web, one that relies on two of its most distinctive qualities—its massive scale and the way that its contents can be rapidly scanned and sorted. These are the qualities that are central to Google’s extraordinary success as a swift locator of people and information. And, in fact, we employ Google as our indispensable assistant for assessing the veracity of the Web’s historical information. We also argue, somewhat counterintuitively, that Botstein may be right about the Web containing a lot of dust and bagel crumbs, while at the same time being wrong in his overall claim about the Web’s unreliability.

Read Web of lies? Historical Knowledge on the Internet from First Monday

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