This week in Time magazine there was an interesting article “How Many Blogs Does the World Need?”by Michael Kinsley. The crux of the article is something that I’ve touched on in a couple of recent posts: How do people separate the quality content from the diatribes, the meaningful from the inappropriate, and the groundbreaking from the debunked?
There may have been an explosion in the amount of content, which Kinsley is decrying, however I don’t think that is the problem. Kinsley was among the leaders of moving to online, having helped to put Slate on the map, which makes his article all the stranger. His voice is but only one in recent weeks complaining of the profusion of blogs and voices contributing to the public square. A similar article was published in Wired last month – again by another successful online writer at Valleywag. Limiting the voices or contributions from any number of authors (quality or not) shouldn’t be the answer. Providing structures by which people can find appropriate content, along with assessment measures and tools that reader can use to determine which content is appropriate for themselves is the critical need in our community.
Journals (in the scholarly world) had longed played this role of vetting and editing content and people could be moderately assured that the content in a particular journal would meet some general standards of quality and content. In a disambiguated world, this isn’t the case. How can you tell one article on the web, or in Science Direct, or in PLOS One is any better or more appropriate to your interests before investing the time and energy to read it? This will be one of the biggest challenges in the coming years will be to find a replacement for the journal in our open-web-world.