Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Larry Sanger Lecture

Sanger's talk was titled "The Future of Free Information" and focused largely on how his new project, Digital Universe will fix the problems he feels Wikipedia and other information resources have.
"High quality of content is essential because we want an information resource to allow us to gain knowledge," said Sanger. "Quality is determined by accuracy and completeness."
Sanger said expert involvement increases a resource's faithfulness to expert opinion. He pointed out several times during the presentation that the difference between Wikipedia and Digital Universe is that experts would have editorial control over user submitted entries in Digital Universe. He said experts were needed to lead discussion between non-experts submitting information.
"Accuracy is going to increase the more expert eyeballs get at the topic," said Sanger. He added that accuracy requires neutrality and fairness with respect to the broad range of opinion within a field.
Sanger also spoke about completeness and availability of information being important to the ideal information resource. He said if contributors add a missing piece of information to a resource then the quality improves.
"Availability is best achieved by making the resource both widespread and as inexpensive as possible," said Sanger.
According to Sanger, one of Digital Universe's features is the use of portals which will connect information from various mediums together to make access easier. For example, in addition to an encyclopedia entry about Mars, there would be links to pictures, videos or books about Mars.
Sanger said that, despite the shortcomings he feels Wikipedia has, it is currently the closest to the ideal information resource.
"What the world really needs is a single information resource that excels across the board." Sanger said this is Digital Universe's goal. "We will start engaging the public in various ways this year."


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