Authority versus Page Rank
What happened was, I went to check out the new Microsoft search engine at live.
com (it’s not bad), and I started by looking for myself. I was kind of surprised when my Wikipedia entry came in ahead of ongoing. (Wikipedia’s #2 at Google and Yahoo. ) I’m seeing this pattern of Wikipedia inching up the search-result charts for a whole lot of things. Search-result rank, on the Internet, more or less equals Authority. So this trend has to worry the anti-Wikipedians. It worries me too. Maybe it could be reversed, but I don’t think so.
As an example, Tim uses a search: "for each of the ten provinces of Canada, what is its population?" and notes that population figures from government sites are available but hard to find, and scattered throughout cyberspace with horribly meaningless URI's.
I read global Search-result rank = authority as the underlying problem, and the ability to select a (large) collection of sources to weight page rank as an interesting alternative.
The Wikipedia has become a popularly cited source and uses an encyclopedic organization that is extremely "page rank friendly" since there is exactly one article titled Douglas Engelbart (title text is weighted heavily), and when internal WikiPedia or external references to Douglas Engelbart are created, they will tend to link directly to that one URL, rather than being distributed among many articles that talk about Douglas Engelbart in the context of hypertext, history of the graphical user interface, the Hypertext Editing System, etc.
When doing serious research, I want to be able to select the authority and viewpoint of sources used to rank my search results.
In Tim's example, when searching for specific population facts, I'd want to use a weighted search based on links within and extending from trusted reference libraries whose content is selected, reviewed and updated by professional reference librarians.
If I was a student at Brown University, I might use anonymous links abstracted from Brown faculty, student, and elibrary content as weighing factors for research (you'd also see content hits in local sources you're permitted to read).
For specialized research on hypertext or the history of computing, I might choose a collection of references from specific researchers or organizations whose opinions I particularly value for the purpose of weighting my general search requests without asking those researchers or organizations to explicitly disclose the content of their collections.
For example, the IEEE might make link references of everything they publish available for weighted-page rank calculation without necessarily disclosing the content.
More organically, individuals and groups within an organization might give permission for their blog /
It becomes particularly important to be able to deal with a variety of sources, since for many work products there will be more than one "authoritative" source of facts, opinions, and analysis.
But real world research also needs to deal with difference in opinion, analysis, historical or national perspective.
Sources can of course also disagree on "objective facts" - such as population of Canadian provinces - based on how the information is collected and by whom.