Its just a result of publishing and distribution has become less costly now. With freer access to tools of distribution, comes a higher variability of quality in content.
But i dont think its a problem at all.
Books disagree, and so do newspapers, they both provide incorrect data. So do websites.
But because traditional media takes much more financial resources to produce and distribute; their content is often better researched and written because the financial investment is much more significant. Close down a newspaper because of bad content and you lose heaps. Close down a website? - Well just buy another domain and start again!
A key life skill has always been to assess information by the quality of its source, whatever the medium. Such things as the credibility of other parts of the site, the number of incoming links from credible sites, the amount of identifying information on authors.. all are imperfect indicators of credibility but taken together its adds up.
How do you assess the quality of an atlas? Well i look for the info on my very small home town. If they get that right, I will be more inclined to beleive what the say about places i dont know. Same for websites, especially if they are related in same way, you can assess the quality of one web site in a "family" by the quality of their sister or owner sites, and maybe at a stretch, the quality of their incoming or outgoing links which you already know.
These are skills that have always being needed, and with the web you have to raise the level of analysis again.
I dont think its a bad thing.
Its just a different media and different rules apply.
For example the Web now provides some tools already to assess the quality of information - PR for one if you think about it, - as well as teh ability to find out much more about specific authors or sites by doing a search for what others have said about them on the web. Others will emerge. So while we may find "bad" stuff, we have far more tools to assess "stuff". Much more than in traditional media.
Which leads to my next point.
Perhaps one of the positive things is that it may challenge our often unwarranted assumption that anything in print, newspapers, books, AND the web can be trusted without evaluating the source.
[edited by: chiyo at 11:40 am (utc) on Jan. 17, 2003]