ITGS Syllabus

Friday, September 01, 2006

Topic 119

Reliability and authenticity of information by Matthew

Here are some key terms that relate to this topic:

Reliability – dependability; the quality of being dependable or reliable

Authenticity – undisputed credibility

Internet - a computer network consisting of a worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP/IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange

I am sure many, if not all of you have at least once used the internet as a resource to help you with your homework. But have you ever considered whether the website you are basing your entire essay on is reliable or credible? This essay will help you understand why the internet is not always the best place to obtain information, and will give you tips that will help you distinguish the difference between an unhealthy website with spurious information and a helpful website with trustworthy information.

There are basically two reasons why you must be extremely prudent with online resources. First, anyone can publish anything on the World Wide Web. Yes, even you. Companies, organizations, educational institutions, agencies, communities, and individual people, can all post whatever they wish on the internet. Second, no approval is necessary. Unlike traditional information media, such as books, magazines, and newspapers, where information was processed by some authority (editor or publisher), information on most websites are not reviewed or filtered. For these reasons one must be sagacious when deciding whether to utilize some random website.

The following excerpts are from two real websites.

Try to determine whether they are useful or not.

Passage 1

As a bear begins to associate human presence with food, it may lose its shyness and pose an increasing risk to humans. Conflicts may also arise in situations where the bear regards a human as an immediate threat to itself, its cubs, or food cache (which is one reason that found animal carcasses should be avoided). In a chance encounter with a bear, the best course of action is usually to back away slowly in the direction that you came, speaking in a loud, calm tone to make sure the bear is aware of your presence and will not be caught off guard. The bear will rarely become aggressive and head towards you. In order to protect yourself, some suggest passively lying on the ground and waiting for the bear to lose interest.
(posted by Anonymous)

Passage 2

Not always content with foraged leavings, bears are also accomplished hunters, occasionally bringing down big game with their firearms. It is for this reason that bears remain popular and alluring targets for human hunters in search of a thrill: most deer, for example, are not armed, and quarry that returns fire adds a rush to a typical hunt. Bears prefer machete powered desert eagles, choosing to bring down large game in a hail of large knives and then finish the job up close and "execution" style.
(posted by an Anonymous)

As you have probably already figured out, Passage 2 is the reason why you must not always rely on internet resources. Clearly, the information given by Passage 2 is inaccurate.
So what are you to do now? Never use the internet as a resource ever again? Wrong. Fortunately for you, there are ways you can make sure that your internet sources are reliable and accurate. One way you can do this is by checking the author of the website. Ask yourself whether the author of the information is a recognized individual that clearly has some idea about the inherent topic.

This means, do not use information posted on a blog by webcam_hottie, but rather use information post entered by a Dr. Smart, Rather. Another thing you should check is the provider of the website. This one is easy to figure out because it is usually given in the domain of the URL of the website. If you have information from a .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, or .org, you can be sure that the information is worth a lot more than information from a .com website. But be warned, information from a website wit one of the former domain suffixes could be slightly erraneous.

For example, a .edu could sometimes be a personal web page rather than one of an educational institution (i.e. is the personal web page of jsmith, who is a student at Johns Hopkins University). Another example is a bad .gov website. Some governments, like the Chinese government, regularly post false propaganda that are not true at all. One must be careful of biased information. Another thing you should consider is the date of a website. Many websites are not updated and could have information that may have been true three years ago, but not today.


Reliability and authenticity of information by Sujit

Some of the information found on websites and other sources are not very reliable. Some of the information is just opinions from other people which other people think could be true. Some information are really biased and therefore can’t be used unless you check other information about this topic. Or it could be real, authentic information. The problem is how you know which one is reliable and which one are not.

The people who benefit from getting reliable information are the people who want to find out more about some particular topic. With this reliable information he can write books and other things to get money and to satisfy his own interest. One such people can be historians or professors who are assigned the task of finding something out.

Some of the advantages for these historians are that if the information is reliable they can make reports on the particular topic and also the report that they write can be used by other people and if there is come mistake it can be easily fixed. The disadvantage of this is that if the information is not reliable then the historians have to do extra work of finding the information of topic and cross-examining it with the unreliable source so that their might be some value in it. The problem with this is that it is very time consuming.

Like I said before the best way to solve the unreliability of the information is by creating some value for the information. You create some value by cross-examining it with another source. Once you cross-examined you can tell which part of the information is true and which part isn’t. The part which is not true is probably not true because of biases added in their. But that information can be used by telling the readers why he was biased and how much of the information is biased.

The reliability of information affects only those who seek the information of that particular topic. It affects them because if the information is not reliable they cannot make an accurate report of the topic they were given to research. The information that the writer provides is seen by everyone in the world if you are a historian or something.

If someone finds something that is totally wrong in the report of the writer, the writer’s life is ruined because they will think that all the report which he will give in the future will have mistakes in them. Because the writer didn’t check if the information was reliable or not he will not be trusted to right good reports. The impact that this will have on the world is the world will have totally unreliable information. This will affect the writer who wrote the information and the people who are finding information for their topic.

The people who are responsible for the reliability of the information is the writer. He needs to find information and decide whether it is reliable or not. The person held accountable for the reliability of the information is The person who wrote the report which was used as a source of information. The problem is that the person who wrote it probably added his own biases, but the information is right. In that case you have to find other sources to look from.

There are no alternative solutions for this problem other than finding more information from other sources and cross-checking them to see what is agreed upon and what is disagreed. There is no easy way out. That is why it is not good to do things in such short time.


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