Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

UPDATE: Google distributes hacked newspaper site with anti-Israel/US message...

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 3, 2006

UPDATE: A reader points out that it looks like the Irish Medical Times newspaper was hacked and then picked up by Google. I had posted this hack from Google News with an anti-Israeli message and I asked how GOOG could stop other such incidents and guarantee the integrity of the content.

Google News is one of the world's most popular web sites and a trusted brand. This means it has a responsibility to its community if it is to retain the trusted brand relationship--which Google has managed to maintain despite its super-star status.

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http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:rX8_ZjbMpf4J:www.imt.ie/displayinterview.asp%3FWID%3D250%26CAT%3D19

Since Google does not employ any human editors, (it is all harvested by machines) the hack hasn't been filtered from Google News.

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This calls for a Digg-type credibility system. GOOG can still use machines to harvest content, (more scalable than humans) and the readers can flag potential news hacks. The entire community benefits.

But that's if the community can detect false or doctored stories. A slight doctoring of a company earnings announcement could translate into market advantages for some, and could be difficult to spot in a timely manner by even the most vigilante citizen press corp.

Citizen journalists will be very important unless we figure out viable business models for the profession of journalism; they will be the public's prime media sources, but with the potential for misinformation too.

Private groups will increasingly finance professional journalists and collect and share the information in select groups to gain competitive advantages. Ted Shelton points out that this is the way the Venetian princes won at overseas trade.

Information about ships and prices of goods was valuable to those that had it. It was so valuable, that the Venetians managed to beat out competing trade centers--and also fund the Renaissance.

This transformed the entire known world. The Renaissance was a cultural and scientific revelation, it was the rediscovery of rationalism. This propelled humanity out of a millennium of Dark Ages and into the Age of Enlightenment, and led to our modern world. Not too shabby.

I know that there will be a new generation of Venetian princes from this next phase of the Internet. If it also brings a cultural revolution on a Renaissance scale, that would be interesting. I would certainly welcome a rediscovery of rationalism and the secular society.

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