Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Credibility of Online Information

Recent technological advances have enhanced our ability to retrieve information online at an incredible rate. Wireless network cards and smart phones, just to name a couple, allow open access to information on the web virtually anytime, anywhere. No longer must we rely on a computer that is wired to the Internet for information retrieval. With such a surplus of information within easy reach, it becomes a necessity to effectively evaluate the credibility of it all. At first it may seem overwhelming, but there are some steps to take in order to shape-up one's evaluation process. One thing that must be kept in mind is that most traditional forms of judgment can still be utilized in an online environment and that there are many online tools available to assist in the efforts of judging credibility. In my opinion, an ongoing series of trial-and-error solutions may be the best practice. Over time, a person can learn to rely on certain judging criteria and online tools that work best for them to evaluate information found online. My experience with judging online information, especially web sites that may not be affiliated with an institution, association, or reputable company, has lead me to using validity tools such as Wayback Machine to see the history of a Web site, easyWhois to find out who owns a particular Web site, and AltaVista to find the back links (external links) from any Web site. Another good way to improve one's ability of evaluating credibility is to make connections that are both relevant and reliable. Twitter and delicious are two good places to start. Following these few easy suggestions will not make you an expert at judging credibility of online information, but you will certainly be headed in the right direction.

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