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Sunday, 12 April 2009


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an interesting take on a interesting topic. [Read More]


Stephen Downes

It's like this proposal doesn't take into account any of web history.

Such a system would quickly fill with spam and misleading (and blatantly false) reports as people tried to game the system.

Will Thalheimer

Dear Stephen Downes of Stephen's Web and OLDaily fame:

Thanks for commenting so inauspiciously on my blog.

As a skeptic of web information myself, I really really really want to resonate with your comment, flippant as it may be, but I find it hard to take its unsubstantiated arguments seriously.

What web history are you talking about? Certainly Wikipedia has its problems, but much of the information is good. Certainly Google searches can find nonsense, but can also find valuable information as well. Even Amazon.com ratings are imperfect, but I've found them very useful to me in buying all sorts of things.

You submit no evidence that such a system as I had suggested would quickly fill up with spam. Certainly people have reasons for gaming any system. But are we so limited in our capabilities that we couldn't design a system that would provide better information than the information the FDA gathers now? Sure there will be difficulties and flaws, but even if we only create a system that is 10% better, wouldn't that create a benefit? Yes, maybe there will be some false negatives, but wouldn't we still save lives with the true positives? And Stephen, I thought you of all people would be more concerned with the big citizenry than with big agribusiness.

In one of the posts you highlight on your blog (http://www.downes.ca/post/4) you offer "Principles for Evaluating Websites." Did you consider using this to examine the current FDA website? Your overall recommendation is that TRUST is the prime criterion. Pssssst. Not many here currently trust the FDA (have you heard about the Peanut Corporation of America?). Surely, you don't think the current FDA website is sufficient to protect the health of my fellow citizens (I'm assuming as a Canadian you're not attempting to wish pestilence on your southern brethren).

Or perhaps your aforementioned post (which conveys a watch-out-everyone-else-is-just-trying-to-pull-one-over-on-you point-of-view) ignores not web history, but human history, in surrendering the idea that good will might exist in human form--maybe the system-gamers will be outshined by good honest citizens.

Finally, it is all very well to distrust the mass of humanity and just be critical, but if you have true wisdom to offer at least one suggestion for an improved alternative would have been helpful. Just one.

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Nice post!! Stonyfield has taken all the necessary corrective action to prevent this from occurring again.

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The post office has a list of all addresses in the country. Why can't the FDA create a list of all foods sold in the U.S. plus a list of all food sellers.

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the FDA could save lives very simply and at a relatively low cost. Let's just do it.

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for his many years in leading the workplace learning

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