Political Web

The web, attention, and truth

Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web Foundation a couple of days ago. The focus of the organization, according to the site is to help make the web more open, robust, and accessible, all of which are commendable. But then Berners-Lee mentioned about ensuring the quality of the web through some kind of labeling system.

Short Sharp Science responded with:

Web licences to ensure that people only read sites they can handle are the next logical step. Fortunately it’s much more likely that the whole idea will quietly be forgotten, which will at least prevent Berners-Lee receiving one of the first “potentially misleading” badges for thinking it up in the first place. Let’s hope the World Wide Web Foundation and its laudable goals have a rosier future.

Karl Martino lists other responses, but brought up another effect associated with the “truthy label”.

Take the current campaign for President. How could a labeling scheme help or hurt?…I guarantee you a labeling scheme, in the political sphere, would favor the those who could utilize attention influence the most effectively, and have little to do with actual ‘truth’.

However, I don’t think we have to worry about the truthy battle any time soon, as I’m not seeing much interest in this announcement. Oh, mention of it has appeared here and there, such as in Karl’s post and in Short Sharp Science, and including this post by yours truly. But most of the web community is focused on some new advance in one or another of the browsers, implementation of a new CSS3 or HTML5 feature, or the invention of yet another server-side language that will kill all others. Well, with an occasional picture of a cat, vacation, or cute little cherub (because we do not live by tech alone).

Either the seeming indifference is due to the fact that the web has grown far beyond the reaches of even its original inventor, and few believe that this effort will have much of an impact. Or we’ve been hit with so many new “initiatives” that all we care about now is what’s working, what’s broke, and trying to ensure pieces of the former do not become part of the latter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email