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Access > Accuracy

I enjoyed reading Daniel Cohen’s article From Babel to Knowledge. Data aggregation is by far one of my favorite parts of the internet in general, because there is so much information out there and programs that make it easy to find exactly what you are looking for is extremely useful and important. But something that struck me was one of his “lessons” he learned in building search tools and algorithms: Resources that are free to use in any way, even if they are imperfect, are more valuable than those that are gated or use-restricted, even if those resources are qualitatively better.

He argues that free access is more important when it comes to data because the usefulness of that data is higher than a gated source. The fact that Wikipedia, even though it can be vandalized, users can send out a software agent to scan the entire Bush articles on the Wikipedia site and datamining becomes easier and more accessible to the masses.

I think access is what can determine between an informed populace and a select few within the greater population. When limiting information to a pay-per-use or pay-for-service model, those who cannot afford it or do not attend a university do not have acces to this particular data. It creates an uneven divide of who gets to know what. And I think that is wrong and ultimately dangerous.

~ by William Hammill on November 10, 2012. Tagged: , , , , , ,

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