h1

Rumors

February 11, 2011

Señor Leonid Arkaev, interesting points about creation, curation, and the crowd.  There was an article recently about the Huffington Post and its role as curator.  Here are two passages from the article:

“It wasn’t long before HuffPo started serving as its audience’s curator. Editors scoured the Web for the most scintillating content and then repackaged it on the site. Huffington also understood that on the Web, linking and being linked to is what makes traffic growth steroidal.”

“But by aggregating — or sponging, as some call it — other news providers’ content, sites like The Huffington Post, critics say, are poisoning the news revenue model and threatening the Fourth Estate along the way. The Huffington Post only has about 100 staffers, 90 percent fewer than the New York Times. But HuffPo benefits from all the journalists working for mainstream outfits by posting their content and running ads next to it. In other words, the HuffPo’s success hinges on monetizing content other publishers pay for.”

You asked me for Vyāsa desiderata for the wiki world.  I think that there should be more creators than curators and that those curators should be responsible enough to not spread rumors.  (Rumor propagation in networks is an interesting area of study that we should learn more about.)  If there is only one creator and that creator produces a falsehood, then there is no other source to temper that falsehood.  Irresponsible curators spread the falsehood, and it takes over societal consciousness.

Let us look at some recent happenings related to this.  Last month around the time of Makar Sankranti, a rumor quickly spread that everyone’s zodiac sign has changed because of a change in star alignment.  The original source was an interview in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that was misinterpreted.  Due to irresponsible curation, people all over the world began believing it.  If there had been responsibility, and a tiny bit of research on the differences between the tropical and sidereal horoscopes had been done by curators, this “kerfuffle” would not have happened.  Earlier this month, a post on a message board led to the widespread speculation of point shaving by Syracuse University basketball players.  Responsible curators such as Sean Keeley of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician did not spread the rumor and the rumor died down quickly.  One can trace the current protests and unrest in North Africa and the Arab world to the death of Mohamed Bouazizi.  In this case, news of this one self-immolation ignited feelings of uprising locally and then perhaps due to news reporting and social media coverage of it over the entire region, led to the conflagrations.  It is hard to say whether in this case the curation was of the irresponsible or responsible type.

With multiple creators and multiple sources, you get a diversity that is not possible otherwise.  Back in June, the DeepQA team working on Watson, taking advantage of the diversity of their colleagues, asked researchers at Watson to create some Jeopardy! clues.  I don’t think I was of much help, but I did submit five clues to help train the smartest machine on earth, all in a category I named TECHNOMYTHOLOGICAL.  Here were my five clues:

  • THIS FEMALE WARRIOR ALLOWS ONLINE PURCHASES WITH ONE-CLICK
  • THIS THREE-HEADED DOG PROTECTS AGAINST EAVESDROPPING BY AUTHENTICATION
  • THIS GOD OF THE AFTERLIFE IMAGED ASTEROID 2867 ŠTEINS IN SEPTEMBER 2008
  • THIS NORSE SHAPE-SHIFTER PORTED GAMES TO LINUX STARTING IN 1999
  • THIS AVATAR OF VISHNU CAN BE READ FROM AND WRITTEN TO IN ARBITRARY SEQUENCE

It’ll be interesting to see how Watson does next week.  An interesting tidbit: at the end of the day on the Thursday when a half practice round was filmed (which Watson won), before the later filming of the actual game, David Ferrucci was asked whether he would like to go out for some wine.  Ferrucci said no, but he might go for it after the actual game.  We’ll see whether this tidbit spreads, or whether curators deem it too insignificant.

Although there was no trip to Antarctica, I think year 1 of the Information Ashvins has been an interesting journey.  As you’re on board with it, we’ll definitely spice up year 2 with some interviews.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Yours truly is pretty horrible at Jeopardy, but is looking forward to tuning into the Watson showdown next week. Is it sad that I only got 2/5 of your clues? Bing seems to do better with (a non-overlapping) 3/5 (3.5+ if you count clicking through to a returned result).

    The problem with having many creators and no curators is that there’s too much noise for an individual to sift through. (There are too many creators that create crap.) Curators are necessary to distill information. If a curator transmits misinformation, other curators usually will fill in with more fact-checking. At large, curators that keep transmitting falsehoods lose audience over time (unless the audience is looking for sensationalism instead of facts). The beauty of crowds is that usually the most ‘useful’ information is bubbled to the top.

    I caught whiff of year 1 late into the game, and am looking forward to year 2.


  2. It is not sad. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the third one and I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the fourth one.

    Curation is clearly very important, but good creation might die away if there is no economic incentive for it, at which point curation is meaningless.


  3. […] Ashvins The Ultimate Machinists « Rumors The Heart of Lightness March 12, […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: