One of the striking attributes of the contemporary state of digital transformation is the conjunction of the ubiquity of digitization with its incomplete realization in a multitude of consumer and business contexts. On one hand, digital transformation has succeeded in empowering consumers to access data and information about just about any topic—whether it be the weather, news, sports, restaurant tips or parenting advice—from just about anywhere, anytime or any device. On the other hand, digital transformation has led to the production of a deluge of data that has the potential to confuse end users simply because of the sheer volume and heterogeneity of available data.
Currently, end users of web-enabled devices enjoy an embarrassment of riches with respect to data and information about any topic of interest. This surfeit of data has improved the ability of consumers to make decisions about what products to buy and transformed modalities of connecting with people via social networking, chat and video-conferencing functionality. For example, increased digitization has empowered end users of technology to compare prices of goods sold in a multitude of venues with a few clicks of the mouse, connect with a relative halfway around the world via a video call or learn a foreign language from the comfort of their living room.
While digital transformation has democratized access to data, it has correspondingly encountered challenges with respect to the delivery of high quality, curated information that allows consumers to effectively filter through the deluge of data that lies at the fingertips. One of the best examples of this lack of curation of data involves topics related to health, nutrition and wellness. The worldwide web prominently represents almost every viewpoint under the sun regarding topics such as organic foods, methods of weight loss, stress reduction, causes of cancer and the safety of vaccines.
This lack of curation means that viewpoints that claim that vaccines cause autism, or that cat urine causes schizophrenia, or that organic foods are no different from conventionally grown foods, are represented with a prominence that has the potential to mislead consumers of this information. As such, enterprise portals and web content management technologies that specialize in the delivery of data would do well to consider methods of curating data to identify that which is considered more accurate and reliable, while conversely tagging data that is confirmed to be less credible.
There are two obvious solutions to the challenge of curating large-scale, unstructured data: one involves establishing a centralized governance authority that determines the truth, falsity and credibility of data points; another involves a decentralized model whereby individuals with no particular relationship to one another collectively contribute to the specification of a standard as to whether a given piece of news or data is true, false or somewhere in between.
The obvious shortcoming of the centralized model for determining the veracity of pieces of news is who decides who gets to determine what is true and false. Meanwhile, the decentralized model of determining the truth of a given piece of information risks over-reliance on hysteria and prejudice that can unduly swing the pendulum regarding whether a particular piece of information is deemed true or false, one way or another.
As such, vendors who specialize in the delivery of digital content have their work cut out for them to develop digital solutions to curate data while nevertheless preserving a diversity of viewpoints. This effort to curate data can help rescue users of technology from the contemporary deluge of data and enhance the reliability and relevance of portals that deliver digital content.