Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities

Earlier this week I wrote to the Deliberate discussion list and asked where the librarians were in the work being done by the Knight Commission on the information needs of communities in a democracy. I was happily proven wrong. Libraries are represented by TWO outstanding individuals. YEAH!

The commission met at Google earlier this week and a couple of people I know or follow on Twitter attended. Chris O’Brien, technology writer for the San Jose Mercury News attended and posted a blog about the meeting. He writes about how the constant onslaught of information makes it difficult to determine the accuracy of information. How do communities decide what information and what sources to trust? (hmm, sounds like an information literacy issue.) He poses two possible solutions.

One is to tap into the power of crowds to evaluate and rate the sources. He cites where news stories are evaluate by people who, over time build up a reputation and become trusted sources. In other words individuals rate news articles and other individuals rate the rating. Stories are rated based on: Recommendations, accuracy, balance, context, evidence, fairness, importance, information, sources, style, and trust.

The other possible solution he cites is to form intermediaries or editors that can establish themselves as “trust advisers” to people online. Hey, that sounds like a job for an information professional (i.e., librarian!) I told Chris that I was posting his story to the students in my UIUC Library and Info Sciences class, Community Engagement.

I’d love to see some librarians comment on his blog. See link to article below.

O’Brien: Communities need help finding information on the Web they can trust


One thought on “Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities

  1. Amy Gahran

    Hi, Taylor

    I’m glad to see that ALA is talking about how to enhance civic engagement. Yes, librarians definitely should be in on this discussion! You have much to offer!

    I’ve recently gotten involved with an intriguing public discussion on the topic of how civic info and media can help communities and enhance civic engagement. It started in the comment thread to this Knight Commission post, where I challenged the Commission’s choice to focus only on communities defined by local geography. Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen responded there with a very thoughtful comment supporting this choice of focus.

    While I agree that local is one very important way to define communities of civic significance, I remain concerned that the Commission’s choice to only look at geographically defined communities could miss some important parts of the big picture for how we could improve civic info, media, and engagement.

    This discussion has given me much to ponder. So today on my weblog I’ve posted the first installment in a short series about how all things civic could be made to mesh more comfortably with human nature:

    Being a Citizen Shouldn’t Be So Hard! Part 1: Human Nature
    – Alternate link:

    I’ll be publishing the other 3 installments over the next few days.

    My goal with this series is to engage various communities in helping me strengthen and streamline this information so I can submit it to the Knight Commission in a useful format to support their deliberations in a way that would eventually benefit *all* kinds of communities of civic significance.

    I mention my series here because I value the expertise and perspective of librarians, and I would sincerely appreciate some input from librarians on this topic. So if you or your colleagues have a chance, I’d love it if you could check out my series and comment with your thoughts.

    Thanks much, and I’ll continue reading this blog.

    – Amy Gahran

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