Archive for June 18th, 2008

What determines authoritative information

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I had need to visit a particular store in New York on Sunday on referral by a friend. I knew they had two locations. Like all tech savvy people I googled sports authority new york. I even visited the website from the link of the top result (with map). I typed in the address into my iPhone as listed by the map, why somebody hasn’t invented a means to point and click that I don’t know (it probably does exist, but finding it and knowing about it is a completely more complex problem). I even clicked on the map and zoomed in for nearest subway stop.

I got on the NY subway and headed into Manhattan. What resulted was me scratching my head when I could not find the intended store. In fact, the store never existed at 57 W 57th St. Even trying the phone number as per Google resulted in a no answer. Fortunately the trusty iPhone with Internet access and viewing the store locator on the official Sports Authority website enabled me to find the closest store, over a mile away.

I have often joked about the reliance on online information and the assumption of accurate information from even trusted sites. I’ve used this example previously, I know 1 mile is approximately 1.6 kilometers, and if you put in “convert 1 mile to kilometer” Google gives you an answer of “1 mile = 1.609344 kilometer”. What if that was indeed wrong, and it was 1.659344 for example.

Where are the safeguards for verifying information? Could it even be possible?
The benefit of information available readily does not equate to good information, indeed today searching for something can provide too much information and not exactly what you are seeking.

One wonders!