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Surprising Science

Will Blogs Survive the Scrutiny of the Microscope?

The free-for-all world of the blogosphere is set to get a Nielsen-style ratings system that could finally open a new age in classifying weblogs. But to get an understanding how it will be executed, we need to talk semantics.

Austria’s Know Center is pioneering a three-way ratings system that could automatically lump every blog in the world into sites of high, average or little credibility. The system would analyze newsworthy language and compare it to language used in news publications of recognized importance. As you might imagine, a pattern of language from ill-vetted sources in a blog could lead to a low rating.

Know Center Division Manager Michael Granitzer told Big Think this morning he sees the Know Center’s system working in concert with existing ratings systems like Google rankings. “What we’re trying to do is define an added measure to quantify if a blog is credible or not.”

The implications for public information are vast. As Andreas Juffinger writes in the Center’s abstract, blogs with unverifiable content can “manipulate the readers…Therefore the credibility of a blog has to be validated before the available information is used for analysis.”

The results of Know Center’s research is being presented this week in Madrid at the World Wide Web Conference. If it is warmly received, the wild world of the blogosphere may have to face the harsh light of qualitative semantics shortly.


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