This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Authority and bias

In Gene Smith's interview at You're It! with Peter Morville, they discuss the topic of authority-by-citation in academia as opposed to in the public sphere of the web where it is authority-by-linking.  Peter Morville: the Tagsonomy interview

Gene: How is authority related to findability?

Peter: My authority article stirred up a fascinating discussion on Web4Lib centered around this question. Historically, librarians have been comfortable with the notion that the most frequently cited academic papers (and their authors) are also the most popular, findable, and authoritative. But many are horrified by the migration of this concept to the public web. In truth, the comparison is not totally fair. Scholars invest more thought and structure into their citations than we invest in our links. But the revolution in authority is real. In a world where we can select our sources and choose our news, we must increasingly make our own decisions about what to believe and who to trust. And thanks to the well-documented anchoring bias, we’re highly influenced by the first information we find. In this sense, Google’s algorithms are as much about authority as relevance. And this is why the subtitle of Ambient Findability is “What We Find Changes Who We Become.”

I find this an interesting comment.  I did a PhD, and I did agonize over my citations.  However, there was bias in the resulting selections, just as there is bias in who I link to from this blog.  Of course, I was concerned with making sure I had the proper breadth and depth of coverage.  I didn't want to repeat work that had already been done, after all.  However, I was also concerned with making sure I had the "right" citations in terms of the smaller academic community in which I operated.  Who were the likely reviewers going to be?  Who did I like?  In my research, I had five years to delve into the community and build the best citation list.  On the web, the time is more like five minutes.  I'd fully expect the results to be different.

[This interview came out in the middle of October and has been mentioned by many people in my reading list.  For some reason today, I saw this reference to authority that struck a memory.]

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