Monday, September 18, 2006

Getting Credit: Fight for It

Tim Bray writes that WikiPedia is trumping other more authoritative resources. I've noted this myself some time back and have been commenting on the effects of PageRank since it was introduced on XML-Dev and elsewhere. Inbound linking is a popularity contest. It doesn't confer authority. It confers perception. Perception is NOT reality. Reality requires sustainability. Let me give an example.

Kurt Cagle writes a blog on XML and eXist. He uses a comparison. Should he cite others or can one assume the idea, once out in the wild, can be claimed by anyone? Is it plagiarism? (I'm not accusing. Kurt is a friend. This is just an example.)

Those are three of a number of hits in order of idea emergence provided by Google and I suppose, PageRank. What does this mean?

Credit isn't just about 'showing up'. It is about checking sources. This is why PageRanking works and why it doesn't. In the end, you don't have to be 'given' credit; you have to fight for it. I mentioned some yerars ago on XML-Dev that a program that abstracted ideas from various sources and did a thorough comparison against all published resources would yield a different history of the sources of the ideas than are commonly accepted. Given the potentials in our ranked search systems and overreliance on the web, it's time the search vendors developed such a utility. It would answer a real need and might be a competitive discriminator if the definition of 'authoritative' rougly equals 'original'. It doesn't but that's a different discussion.

Credit is sustainability. Sustainability trumps authority.

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