Magazine article Information Today

A Matter of Trust

Magazine article Information Today

A Matter of Trust

Article excerpt

Well, 2016 is over-as is the new president's inauguration (sigh)-and we are now tackling our new year's resolutions. Setting goals for any new service or database feature starts-as it always should-with looking first for what people need and want.

What the world needs now is trustworthy information that can be supplied at the point of request and be immediately available. That's tricky. First, we have to anticipate where people will be when they need the information. If the potential users are consumers, they will most likely be at some online purchasing site. Amazon comes to mind. Recently, I experienced a sad loss of trust in dealing with Amazon. I am one sick Kindle user, compulsively buying fiction in a subgenre so shameful I would not dare reveal it. The subgenre is so small and narrow that its authors tend to write novels in series and use recurring characters. As a compulsive purchaser, that puts me in danger of buying the same item more than once. The novel descriptions are repetitive and rarely distinctive enough to trigger a clear memory.

However, in the past, when I pulled up a description of a novel, Amazon would dutifully inform me of the date on which I had already purchased it. A couple of months ago, I noticed that those alerts had stopped coming. Instead, when I opened a new purchase, my Kindle or Kindle app would drop me off on a page well into the book. That was the only tipoff that the Kindle had already handled the book. When I called to complain, the nice lady said she would tell the company about it. She also reimbursed me for a recent purchase, but just one. Luckily, the problem may have been solved, because my last purchasing binge featured the good old alert. But one still wonders why anyone would go to the trouble of discontinuing an existing feature that was designed specifically to ensure the company's reputation as an honest vendor.

Establishing Trustworthiness

Can information services find ways to insert more "trust" features into their systems? I remember watching one of last year's presidential debates and flicking over to PolitiFact, which was offering a realtime fact-checking service. The first thing you have to consider when designing such a service is how to impart trust in it. In a digiverse where so many people get their "news" from social media, that becomes a challenge in and of itself. …

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