What determines authoritative information

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!


  1. Bill says

    I think you have a typo there. “What is that was indeed wrong, and it was 1.659344 for example. ” I think you mean “What *if* that was indeed wrong, and it was 1.659344 for example.”.

    Or, was that a brilliant move on your part to make your readers question their own knowledge? I initially interpreted that to imply that the result you got back from google was wrong. The end result is, I had to look up a variety of independent sources to confirm the value myself. I think that is the safe guard you were referring to. How do I learn about mysql? How do I know what one guy on a blog says is trustworthy? Same answer, you investigate a variety of sources and see if they agree with each other for similar problems.