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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

This 60 message thread spans 2 pages: 60 ( [1] 2 > >     
WSJ's "Original Content" Article
Staple This to Your Forehead!
emodo




msg:924017
 5:26 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

The Wall Street Journal's Lee Gomes [online.wsj.com] offers a professional journalists opinion on "original content".

My beef, actually, is with the search engines and the economics of the modern Web. Google, for example, says its mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." The way that's written, one thinks perhaps of a satellite orbiting high above the earth, capturing all its information but interfering with nothing.

In fact, search engines are more like a TV camera crew let loose in the middle of a crowd of rowdy fans after a game. Seeing the camera, everyone acts boorishly and jostles to get in front. The act of observing something changes it.

Which is what search engines are causing to happen to much of the world's "information." Legitimate information, like articles from the WHO, risks being crowded out by junky, spammy imitations. Nothing very useful about that.

My response: Damn straight! I am tired of searching on a topic and getting page after page of "original" and completely INACCURATE. This is especially dangerous when this information is concerning health.

 

Kufu




msg:924018
 5:45 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is especially dangerous when this information is concerning health.

That's why you should check with your Doc :)

The Internet is great for research, but just like anything, one has to do the homework to get the right information.

Do you blame libraries for housing books that don't have accurate information?

This is still a very young technology/industry. The relevancy will eventually become more accurate.

buckworks




msg:924019
 5:52 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you blame libraries for housing books that don't have accurate information

It would be a more accurate parallel to blame the book publisher for lousy editorial standards.

Libraries consider carefully whether a source should be considered authoritative before they buy books. They try hard not to squander their budgets on crap.

Kufu




msg:924020
 5:54 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

They try hard not to squander their budgets on crap.

Yet they stock silly magazines. (trying to defend myself here...lol. Though your point is well taken) :)

Jane_Doe




msg:924021
 6:00 pm on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

That's why you should check with your Doc :)

Would that be the same doctors who were telling women for years that in order to have strong bones after menopause they should all take prescriptions hormones made from the urine of pregnant horses? And then later found out those hormone drugs can lead to breast cancer? Or the ones who prescribed Vioxx for their patients? Or the ones who engaged in a multi-billion dollar annual knee surgery industry that was eventually proved to be no more effective than placebo surgery?

I agree there is too much spam in the search engines, but a lot what I consider spam and misinformation in the health area actually comes from, and is perpetuated by, the drug companies and so called medical experts.

A lot of the studies that either refute or poke holes in common medical dogma never make their way to the major magazines and newspapers because those publications rely on the drug and health care industry for ad money.

Google is a breath of fresh air because they put Pubmed studies right in their main listings, giving people at least a fighting chance of finding studies that question and often contradict what the drug companies try to spoon feed them.

lcampers




msg:924022
 2:02 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

That article hits the right spot about the future of the Internet.

My prediction: more people will rely less on search and more on portals in the future.

They will know: oh, i want the best and most updated info on xyz, so i know to go to "xyz-land"

there they know they can find what they are looking for, from reliable sources and with the most up to date info.

otherwise they have to sift through the junk that search brings up

Content Writer




msg:924023
 3:10 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

A bit old worldy, that wsj article.

I mean, I totally agree with Jane Doe.

Okay, so the Google spam phenomenon dovetails with the U.S. suing culture. Both are obviously full of nonsense, and combined they become ridiculous (like the ol' $100/click for 'personal injury lawyer' kinda thing). Lawyers are in it for the money. So are the SE's. In both systems, there are abuses.

But at the same time, both are crassly democratic, and actually do help defend the otherwise defenseless masses, inform the otherwise uninformed.

And okay, so, there's spam on the Internet. Shocking. I light a candle every night, praying that someday it will go away. But, in the meantime...why the beef?

Really, isn't it kinda naive to think that Internet search is, or should be, pure? I mean, so what if a corporation has a mission statement? Exposing irony always makes for a nice piece of journalism, but honestly folks, Google's a really easy target. (They're just so slimey!)

Anyway, all I can conclude from this article is that there's a lot of easily-distinguishable crap on the Internet, and it's more insidious because it's "original"-and-easily-distinguishable, and the author prefers his job writing for the WSJ, and he doesn't like current web economics.

Maybe he'd like portals better. Don't know, he didn't say. But search isn't really going to go away, I don't think. Neither are lawyers.

john_k




msg:924024
 3:26 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Do you blame libraries for housing books that don't have accurate information?

If I looked in a Subject index for "Herbal Cures", and found "Homeopathic vs. Clinical Cures", and then trapsed up 2 flights of stairs and across a room to find that the indicated book was actually a catalog titled "Random House's List of Hot Sellers," in which one lone entry on page 247 was a 1 sentence description of the book I wanted, then yes, I would blame the library.

lcampers




msg:924025
 7:12 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

john_k is right, and funny too

ronburk




msg:924026
 7:23 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Would that be the same doctors who were telling

Which is an interesting point. Sometimes, especially in the areas of science, the authoritative texts are not readable by the general public, and the journalistic attempts to render them readable often end up being completely non-authoritative, though they come from "authoritative" publications.

Thus, we get headlines like "HRT causes cancer" (sorry, it's more nuanced than that) and "WHI study shows calcium and Vitamin D don't prevent fractures" (well, no, what this deeply flawed part of the study showed is that there was a calcium effect even though they completely failed to control who got how much calcium, and it supported what nutrition researchers have known for 10 years about Vitamin D: 400 IU is too small a dose to bother with for most of our D-deficient population).

The day that Google can actually determine that a newspaper's garbled regurgitation of a scientific study is not authoritative, that'll be some darn slick artificial intelligence they got there :-).

OTOH, it can be entertaining reading Google news when a new scientific study comes out -- sometimes G will put exactly contradictory headlines about the study right next to each other.

Matt Probert




msg:924027
 8:21 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Which is what search engines are causing to happen to much of the world's "information." Legitimate information, like articles from the WHO, risks being crowded out by junky, spammy imitations. Nothing very useful about that.

Ha! I am no fan of the WHO, they are simply a mouth-piece for pharmaceutical companies. Certainly they publish the generally accepted version of events, but that is not so say that every dissident is wrong. Imagine if Copernicus was alive today! The WHO would be publishing how the earth is the centre of the universe, and he would be trying to say how the earth revolves around the sun instead. Being different is not the same as being wrong.

Matt

andrea99




msg:924028
 9:03 am on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

The internet and Google are just brief episodes in a process that began thousands of years ago and if we are lucky will last for thousands more. There is a common element to all this information processing:

Theodore Sturgeon said it well when he quipped "95% of everything is crap." Finding the 5% is your job.

That 95% is produced by the incompetent and dishonest and they will always be with us, get used to it.

Article




msg:924029
 3:53 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, while it seems a lot of cynics are here , I would say that it can't be that bad, is it?

Searching on "Herbal Cures" for example is just a stepping stone to actual action, isn't it? I mean would anyone actually act on something they read on the Internet? Even if it said is was from a doctor?

Well, maybe for like stress relief or acne or quitting smoking or something like that, but for anything serious, come on... A doctor's advice is the only way to really go.

- Article

Jane_Doe




msg:924030
 5:32 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

A doctor's advice is the only way to really go.

I gotta side with Voltaire on this one, "Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”

Or, as a report from the Institute of Medicine put it,

"The human cost of medical errors is high. Based on the findings of one major study, medical errors kill some 44,000 people in U.S. hospitals each year. Another study puts the number much higher, at 98,000. Even using the lower estimate, more people die from medical mistakes each year than from highway accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS."

Press Release [www4.nationalacademies.org]

Kufu




msg:924031
 5:40 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe,

Although I don't disagree with the idea that the medical profession being less than perfect, I still feel that it is the most reliable source for health related information which we have today. I have seen the positive effects of non-traditional medicine, but I'd still opt to see a doctor first.

Also, Voltaire's quote is a bit dated in relation to the scientific advancements of today.

emodo




msg:924032
 5:45 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

This just in: humans doctors are not perfect! In other news: the world is round!

Out of the tens of millions of Americans who visit hospitals every year, 44,000 mistake related deaths is ridiculously good.

[edited by: emodo at 5:48 pm (utc) on Mar. 2, 2006]

Jane_Doe




msg:924033
 5:48 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Also, Voltaire's quote is a bit dated in relation to the scientific advancements of today.

I think it is truer today than it ever was. That is what makes it such a cool quote.

Kufu




msg:924034
 5:50 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe,

I hope you are not suggesting that the entire medical profession is baseless. :)

Jane_Doe




msg:924035
 6:38 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I hope you are not suggesting that the entire medical profession is baseless.

I think it is in sad need of a major overhaul.

"United States spends considerable more on health care that any other industrialized country yet, ranks 37th out 191 member states in terms of “overall health system performance” in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2000 World Health Report.

From:
How Does the United States Health Care System Rank?
[ufcw.org]

Or as Homer Simpson puts it, "America's health care system is second only to Japan ... Canada, Sweden, Great Britain ... well, all of Europe. But you can thank your lucky stars we don't live in Paraguay!"

john_k




msg:924036
 6:43 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Searching on "Herbal Cures" for example is just a stepping stone to actual action, isn't it? I mean would anyone actually act on something they read on the Internet? Even if it said is was from a doctor?

The "Herbal Cures" lookup in the library's subject catalog was for illustrative purposes in response to the "would you blame the library" question. Replace it with the subject of your choice and the argument is still valid.

because...

Librarians know that when we use a subject index, we don't usually want to see lists of other indexes. And when we do want to see other indexes, we can just look under the "indexes" subject. They organize their subject catalogs accordingly.

They don't stick 20 to 40% of the cards into misleading or random places to try and confuse people into actually pulling useless books off the shelves so that ads drop out of them.

And they don't pull covers off of classics and bestsellers to wrap them around ads.

andrea99




msg:924037
 9:21 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

The medical profession suffers from extreme corruption bordering on the routinely criminal in the insurance field and this creeps insidiously into delivery and sadly, marketing.

But denigrating today's science is foolish, an anachronistic conceit. Voltaire was typically sardonic in his own time, the quote is especially so now...

buckworks




msg:924038
 9:26 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

no more effective than placebo surgery?

I'm wondering if you'd be so kind as to explain what placebo surgery is ...

Brett_Tabke




msg:924039
 9:58 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

> I am tired of searching on a topic and getting page

I was just setting with a group of bloggers and we were discussing some esoteric things and especially some esoteric links we'd seen. I have since become convinced that 50% of the cause behind blog readership is to find those esoteric links that the search engines will not provide any more.

Whens the last time you ran into the Dukes of Hazard Fan Club site on Tripod that inspired the remake of the movie? You don't see that sorta stuff popping up in the se's on those random searches.

<wish>
That search engines would offer a mode where they threw up one totally random unrelated and unremarked link in every search :-)
</wish>

Jane_Doe




msg:924040
 10:15 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm wondering if you'd be so kind as to explain what placebo surgery is ...

Study Knocks Knee Surgery [abc.net.au]

Kufu




msg:924041
 10:24 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe,

You realize you are sighting the same people (class of professionals) that you are knocking, right? :)

Webwork




msg:924042
 11:16 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."*

Brought to you by AdSense and it's coterie.

*A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. OBTW: When's the last time you observed proper citation, anywhere?

andrea99




msg:924043
 2:09 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

When's the last time you observed proper citation, anywhere?

Citation, and particularly proper citation is the province of scholarship and academics. I think a lot of scholarship is posted to the web and properly cited.

In this thread there *has* been attribution, and about as proper as one might expect in this venue. Forums and blogs are more like conversations than scholarship.

"Air quotes" work in conversation, but I've never seen an "air footnote." Conversations just flow and diverge without plan and that's all I expect in a forum or blog.

Bernard Marx




msg:924044
 10:08 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

There has been a WebmasterWorld thread that has had me thinking since I first read it.

It's very inspirational if you are looking for some financial success. However, if you are in support of the sentiments expressed in emodo's first post in this thread, you may find post #44 in the thread below makes you feel uncomfortable.

[webmasterworld.com...]

Perhaps not a new issue. Journalists have put themselves, to an extent, in this position for years. Disseminator, or plagiarist and charlatan?

Edge




msg:924045
 1:45 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Getting back on the "original content". I think the journalist is for the most part, accurate. In many topic areas, web economics simply do not afford the comssioning of truely "original content". What start up has the money to do research into any particular scientific or technical subject? I know how much I make, and will likly make per web page I have and will write.

Just for the record, I do just exactly what our referenced professional journalist did, I write about my experiences as a professional.

Until the economics of the web changes dramatically, I doubt the average surfer will see much more than a rewrite on any particular subject.

Humm, just like the our newspapers..

Harry




msg:924046
 2:53 pm on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

The article is not very good itself. The author's attempt at "investigative journalism" is just that - an attempt.

He also failed to distinguish between sites - making it seem like all Web sites do what he decried.

There was also a feeling that like so many other "print" reporters, he sees the "Intarnet" as a pile of rubbish trying to steal decent jobs from college-educated writers.

The comment about Eastern Europe and India are good example of this. So hell yeah, cheap hacks from these countries can churn out copy. What's the diffence with press release based journalism and "insider info" from print publications that are nothing but old boy's network gossips?

Eventually, those hacks from Eastern Europe and India will improve and become better writers, challenging the old boys from the West. And although, somewhere in my gut, I fear this as it means more competition for me, it will just mean that competition and quality will drive the dreck out - and already does.

All those Made for Adsense publishers don't stand a fat chance if all their business model is based on Google. Dedicated information sites that are not network-based will continue to publish with or without Adsense.

Sorry for the unformatted rant.

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