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Re: [CAS-Group] Putting social networks to work

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  • Russ Abbott
    Hey Jochen, This list is having a number of good discussions. Thanks for mentioning Putting Complex Systems to Work. There were so many versions of it that
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 3, 2008
      Hey Jochen,

      This list is having a number of good discussions.

      Thanks for mentioning "Putting Complex Systems to Work." There were so many versions of it that I'm beginning to lose track. Here's the latest (and the one that's closest to what appeared in Complexity).

      Your question about how to increase the quality of user-generated content is a very good one.  I was one of the original doubters that Wikipedia would be at all useful. I'm very pleased with what it has become. I'm a bit less enthusiastic about it than the general buzz, though. My experience is that many of the technical articles are not useful unless you already understand the subject. I tend to use it for two things: (a) to get a general sense of an area that I'm not sure about and (b) as a user-aided search site. (I never use del.icio.us, but I often use Wikipedia as a search aid.)

      In both cases, I feel reasonably confident that the people who work on a page are committed enough to the subject matter to ensure (a) that its not way off the mark and (b) that it has a reasonably good list of current references.  Of course that's not guaranteed, but it's generally the case. 

      This seems to be self-enforcing in that anyone who cares enough about some subject area to work on a Wikipedia page will want the page to be reasonably accurate and up-to-date.  This doesn't guarantee that there won't be vandalism. The Wikipedia structure seems to handle that reasonably well. It also doesn't guarantee that the person creating the page is knowledgeable enough to do a good job.  But at least it comes close to guaranteeing good intentions, which is a lot.  (This is probably the case about most web sites.)

      Of course there are always cases in which people want pages to make something look good as in the examples of corporations and politicians spinning Wikipedia pages.  But that's a somewhat different kind of quality question. Commercial ads, for example, tend to be high quality in terms of production value as well as a certain kind of information content--even if they can also be misleading in that they may leave out important information.  So that's like listening to an advocate rather than an objective observer. We have to learn how to deal with that.

      You mentioned mechanisms to ensure quality. Many of them do more to identify quality than to ensure it. Reputation systems, for example, point to people who have produced quality. But they don't ensure that others won't produce low quality work.  That seems to be what Google and BBs that rate posters rely on.  The people with better reputations become more visible. So this is a mechanism for finding quality, which may be enough.  In some sense that's what market mechanisms are supposed to do. Better products become successful and more visible.  Of course there are lots of ways of gaming that as we all know. But I think that's the basic idea: build mechanisms so that quality will become more visible.

      As you said, this is really quite different from Wikipedia, which wants to ensure that all pages have a certain level of quality and not just that the good ones are more visible.  That seems like a much harder job.

      -- Russ

      On Feb 3, 2008 1:53 PM, Jochen Fromm <Jochen.Fromm@...> wrote:

      Russ, in your paper "Putting Complex Systems to Work"
      which was published recently in the complexity journal
      you mention online communties and multi-sided
      platforms. One core problem with user-generated
      content seems to be to guarantee a certain level
      of quality, "QoS for user-generated Web 2.0 content"
      to use the corresponding buzzwords. Slashdot uses the
      users themselves to rate user-generated content.
      Wikipedia has strict guidelines and guards in form
      of admins. Other sites rely on moderation.

      What do you think are the best ways to increase
      the quality of user-generated content ? It will
      not emerge for free.

      Putting Complex Systems to Work
      http://cs.calstatela.edu/wiki/images/b/b6/Abbott.pdf




      --
      -- Russ Abbott
      _____________________________________________
      Professor, Computer Science
      California State University, Los Angeles
      o Check out my blog at http://russabbott.blogspot.com/
    • Russ Abbott
      Here are some further thoughts. What now strikes me as interesting is the difference between mechanisms (like evolution and market mechanisms) that encourage
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 3, 2008
        Here are some further thoughts.

        What now strikes me as interesting is the difference between
        mechanisms (like evolution and market mechanisms) that encourage the
        establishment and visibility of successful variants and mechanisms
        that attempt to ensure an overall level of quality. The latter seems
        much harder. Evolution works because elements that do well in an
        environment are (by definition) more successful at establishing
        themselves in that environment.

        An implication of this is that recommendation systems (and Google)
        work only because the recommenders actually favor quality. If
        recommenders favored cranks, that's what Google would serve us. So
        recommendation-based systems only reflect the tastes of the
        recommenders. I guess that's obvious. But it's worth noting how
        dependent we have all become on the apparent fact that over all the
        Internet favors quality.

        As I've said, these systems are very different from systems that
        attempt to ensure overall quality. The latter seems to be much more
        difficult. It strikes me that the latter in some ways reflects the
        dreams of centrally controlled economies. The fact that they don't
        work shows how difficult it is to ensure quality overall. Economies
        that are more market driven can allow poor quality because better
        quality products and services (in general) become more successful.



        --- In CAS-Group@yahoogroups.com, "Russ Abbott" <Russ.Abbott@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hey Jochen,
        >
        > This list is having a number of good discussions.
        >
        > Thanks for mentioning "Putting Complex Systems to Work." There were
        so many
        > versions of it that I'm beginning to lose track. Here's the
        >
        latest<http://cs.calstatela.edu/wiki/images/c/cb/Putting_Complex_Systems_to_Work.pdf>(and
        > the one that's closest to what appeared in Complexity).
        >
        > Your question about how to increase the quality of user-generated
        content is
        > a very good one. I was one of the original doubters that Wikipedia
        would be
        > at all useful. I'm very pleased with what it has become. I'm a bit less
        > enthusiastic about it than the general buzz, though. My experience
        is that
        > many of the technical articles are not useful unless you already
        understand
        > the subject. I tend to use it for two things: (a) to get a general
        sense of
        > an area that I'm not sure about and (b) as a user-aided search site. (I
        > never use del.icio.us, but I often use Wikipedia as a search aid.)
        >
        > In both cases, I feel reasonably confident that the people who work on a
        > page are committed enough to the subject matter to ensure (a) that
        its not
        > way off the mark and (b) that it has a reasonably good list of current
        > references. Of course that's not guaranteed, but it's generally the
        case.
        >
        > This seems to be self-enforcing in that anyone who cares enough
        about some
        > subject area to work on a Wikipedia page will want the page to be
        reasonably
        > accurate and up-to-date. This doesn't guarantee that there won't be
        > vandalism. The Wikipedia structure seems to handle that reasonably
        well. It
        > also doesn't guarantee that the person creating the page is
        knowledgeable
        > enough to do a good job. But at least it comes close to
        guaranteeing good
        > intentions, which is a lot. (This is probably the case about most web
        > sites.)
        >
        > Of course there are always cases in which people want pages to make
        > something look good as in the examples of corporations and politicians
        > spinning Wikipedia pages. But that's a somewhat different kind of
        quality
        > question. Commercial ads, for example, tend to be high quality in
        terms of
        > production value as well as a certain kind of information
        content--even if
        > they can also be misleading in that they may leave out important
        > information. So that's like listening to an advocate rather than an
        > objective observer. We have to learn how to deal with that.
        >
        > You mentioned mechanisms to ensure quality. Many of them do more to
        identify
        > quality than to ensure it. Reputation systems, for example, point to
        people
        > who have produced quality. But they don't ensure that others won't
        produce
        > low quality work. That seems to be what Google and BBs that rate
        posters
        > rely on. The people with better reputations become more visible. So
        this is
        > a mechanism for finding quality, which may be enough. In some sense
        that's
        > what market mechanisms are supposed to do. Better products become
        successful
        > and more visible. Of course there are lots of ways of gaming that
        as we all
        > know. But I think that's the basic idea: build mechanisms so that
        quality
        > will become more visible.
        >
        > As you said, this is really quite different from Wikipedia, which
        wants to
        > ensure that all pages have a certain level of quality and not just
        that the
        > good ones are more visible. That seems like a much harder job.
        >
        > -- Russ
        >
        > On Feb 3, 2008 1:53 PM, Jochen Fromm <Jochen.Fromm@...> wrote:
        >
        > > Russ, in your paper "Putting Complex Systems to Work"
        > > which was published recently in the complexity journal
        > > you mention online communties and multi-sided
        > > platforms. One core problem with user-generated
        > > content seems to be to guarantee a certain level
        > > of quality, "QoS for user-generated Web 2.0 content"
        > > to use the corresponding buzzwords. Slashdot uses the
        > > users themselves to rate user-generated content.
        > > Wikipedia has strict guidelines and guards in form
        > > of admins. Other sites rely on moderation.
        > >
        > > What do you think are the best ways to increase
        > > the quality of user-generated content ? It will
        > > not emerge for free.
        > >
        > > Putting Complex Systems to Work
        > > http://cs.calstatela.edu/wiki/images/b/b6/Abbott.pdf
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        > --
        > -- Russ Abbott
        > _____________________________________________
        > Professor, Computer Science
        > California State University, Los Angeles
        > o Check out my blog at http://russabbott.blogspot.com/
        >
      • Jochen Fromm
        thanks for the detailed reply, very interesting ideas. Quality control for user-generated content seems to be a fundamental problem. I have to think about it a
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 4, 2008
          thanks for the detailed reply, very interesting ideas.
          Quality control for user-generated content seems to be
          a fundamental problem. I have to think about it a bit.
          The analogy with centrally controlled economies is good.

          -J.

          --- In CAS-Group@yahoogroups.com, "Russ Abbott" <Russ.Abbott@...> wrote:
          >
          > Here are some further thoughts.
          >
          > What now strikes me as interesting is the difference between
          > mechanisms (like evolution and market mechanisms) that encourage the
          > establishment and visibility of successful variants and mechanisms
          > that attempt to ensure an overall level of quality. The latter seems
          > much harder. Evolution works because elements that do well in an
          > environment are (by definition) more successful at establishing
          > themselves in that environment.
          >
          > An implication of this is that recommendation systems (and Google)
          > work only because the recommenders actually favor quality. If
          > recommenders favored cranks, that's what Google would serve us. So
          > recommendation-based systems only reflect the tastes of the
          > recommenders. I guess that's obvious. But it's worth noting how
          > dependent we have all become on the apparent fact that over all the
          > Internet favors quality.
          >
          > As I've said, these systems are very different from systems that
          > attempt to ensure overall quality. The latter seems to be much more
          > difficult. It strikes me that the latter in some ways reflects the
          > dreams of centrally controlled economies. The fact that they don't
          > work shows how difficult it is to ensure quality overall. Economies
          > that are more market driven can allow poor quality because better
          > quality products and services (in general) become more successful.
          >
        • Red Neuron
          ... Here are some further thoughts. ... What now strikes me as interesting is the difference between ... mechanisms (like evolution and market mechanisms) that
          Message 4 of 5 , Feb 4, 2008
            >
            >
            Here are some further thoughts.
            >
            >
            What now strikes me as interesting is the difference between
            >
            mechanisms (like evolution and market mechanisms) that encourage the
            >
            establishment and visibility of successful variants and mechanisms
            >
            that attempt to ensure an overall level of quality. The latter seems
            >
            much harder. Evolution works because elements that do well in an
            >
            environment are (by definition) more successful at establishing
            >
            themselves in that environment.
            >
            >
            An implication of this is that recommendation systems (and Google)
            >
            work only because the recommenders actually favor quality. If
            >
            recommenders favored cranks, that's what Google would serve us. So
            >
            recommendation-based systems only reflect the tastes of the
            >
            recommenders. I guess that's obvious. But it's worth noting how
            >
            dependent we have all become on the apparent fact that over all the
            >
            Internet favors quality.
            >
            >
            As I've said, these systems are very different from systems that
            >
            attempt to ensure overall quality. The latter seems to be much more
            >
            difficult. It strikes me that the latter in some ways reflects the
            >
            dreams of centrally controlled economies. The fact that they don't
            >
            work shows how difficult it is to ensure quality overall. Economies
            >
            that are more market driven can allow poor quality because better
            >
            quality products and services (in general) become more successful.
            >




            I think that wikipedia is not the greatest source to satisfy my writing style for seminars etc. However, I enjoy it to the fullest. I think people faintly realize their own insecurities and project it into "worries" over wikipedia - whether it is reliable or long lasting. As sustainable machinery tends to be complete in some way, wikipedia has the democratic DEBATE about each article which is perpetuating the work into details and new directions rather than the static display.
            Those talks could be defined in crudest words as pleasing or displeasing - as a motivator. Google ranks are similar machine that runs not so good for science. Scirus.com is better. However, in my opinion - which is also by half copied from other talks, realizations mentioned here are not as yet deep into programming zone, but are rather language of human needs passed on by evolution.



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