Blogs are not equal in terms of the quality of information provided and should always be evaluated carefully. The quality of information relates to the following attributes:
Relevance: information is relevant if it relates to the subject under investigation.
Accuracy: information is accurate if it is factually correct – or at least known not to be factually incorrect.
Clarity: information is clear if it is well written in accordance with the rules for clear and simple writing.
Brevity: information is brief if it is succinct and to-the-point
Depth/detail: information is detailed if sufficient information is provided to give the reader a clear understanding of the subject matter.
Timeliness: information is timely if it is up-to-date.
Note that some of these attributes conflict – there is a tension between brevity and depth, and it is difficult to maintain a blog’s timeliness and accuracy.
For the purposes of this course you should be able to evaluate blogs according to the following criteria:
Ease of use (usability): generally the same standards are applied as for website usability. However, there is some discussion as to whether this is appropriate. Both sites provide numerous useful links on usability.
Navigation: a useful article on blog/website navigation design can be found at: http://www.guuui.com/issues/01_05.php and another one at: http://tapestrydesigns.typepad.com/design_niche/2005/01/navigation_desi.html
Collaborative features: most blogs support a number of collaborative features, e.g.:
- Readers can post comments.
- Blogs may be jointly authored.
- There are links to similar blogs (blogrolls).
- Content can be syndicated via automated systems such as RSS.
- Blogs can comment on (or re-circulate) content from other blogs.
A useful summary of blogs as a collaborative tool can be found at: http://cne.sitempower.com/site.cfm/blogs.cfm
Links: links are a major component of blogs. They can be made to other blogs or websites and that links may occur in the main text or in a list of links. Links are discussed extensively elsewhere in these notes (Sections 1.1.5 and 2).
Quality of information: information obtained from blogs must be evaluated critically in the same way as information obtained any other online source. There may be additional difficulties if a blog consists largely of quotations and links. A selection of useful resources can be found at: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webeval.html
One interesting approach is the use of the “Kapoun Criteria”: Accuracy, Authority, Currency, Objectivity and Coverage. See: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webcrit.html
Follow the link above to find out about the Kapoun Criteria, then check one of your favourite weblogs. To what extent does it meet these criteria?