[Citizendium-l] Consumer information database

Anthony Sebastian Anthony_Sebastian at msn.com
Tue Oct 31 22:37:58 EST 2006


The Google idea of presenting the reader on entry “module” options (Google
Search, Froogle, Google Scholar, etc.) appeals.  CZ Major, CZ-Consumer,
CZ-Scholar?  The latter, fully documented repeats of articles in CZ-major?


Anthony Sebastian, MD
Anthony_Sebastian at msn.com [preferred email address] 


From: citizendium-l-bounces at lists.purdue.edu
[mailto:citizendium-l-bounces at lists.purdue.edu] On Behalf Of David Goodman
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:54 PM
To: citizendium-l at lists.purdue.edu
Subject: Re: [Citizendium-l] Consumer information database


There would be real value for such a database, but it is so much different
from the values 
we have been thinking of, that it certainly would not fit into the
It would make a good, separate, wikiproject. 

in order to be useful,  it would need to link to catalogs and manufacturers
web sites, 
and product reviews, and link to all of them. Some of the best product
reviews, such as  CR, are not free access, and we would either have to make
links, for which people would then have to subscribe. From using such sites,
much of the value is in links to local merchants--both as far as the
merchants and the buyers are concerned. 

This has the potential to be a  ethical business. But its not our business, 
and the potential harm to our reputation is very considerable.  

PS: Based on pure guesswork I took a look at 
http://catalogs.google.com/catalogs. It is not very comprehensive,   

On 10/31/06, Bob Futrelle <bob.futrelle at gmail.com
<mailto:bob.futrelle at gmail.com> > wrote:

If such a thing did exist, it would be valuable.  Why then does not
such a valuable thing exist already?  Its non-existence is telling us
something (a  lot, I would say).

I'm not saying it's impossible.  There may be a way to do it. But my
immediate reaction is that it would distract us.  CZ can be far more 
than an online version of the Br. That alone could keep us all busy
and be valuable.  The point of CZ is to be a Wiki *and* be
authoritative.  If consumer-related things were appropriate and
important and in-demand for a Wiki, why isn't the Wikipedia itself 
jammed with them?

- Bob

On 10/31/06, Dave Truncellito <truncell at gwu.edu> wrote:
>  Dear Bob (if I may) and all:
>  I'm inclined to disagree.  If this is just going to be another 
> encyclopedia, then what advantage does it have over, say, the online
> of Brittanica?  Sure, it'd be free and current, but I think that the
> part of Wikipedia's appeal is its scope.  And here we have an opportunity
> broaden that scope in an intriguing way.
>  Is your thought that it'd be impossible for there to be a neutral
> information database?  If such a thing existed, wouldn't it be a valuable 
> resource?
> Dave
> David A. Truncellito, Ph.D.
> If you have an apple and I have an apple
> and we exchange these apples,
> then you and I will still each have one apple.
> But if you have an idea and I have an idea
> and we exchange these ideas,
> then each of us will have two ideas.
>                      --George Bernard Shaw
> Assistant Professor of Writing, The George Washington University
> 2100 Foxhall Road NW, Washington, DC  20007
> truncell at gwu.edu
> http://home.gwu.edu/~truncell
>  Bob Futrelle wrote:
>  The Encyclopedia Britannica with "neutral" information about body 
> oils, cookware, motor oil, vibrator beds, rat poison?! All legitimate
> consumer items, of course.
> Absurd. I'd rather be poor but honest. I certainly wouldn't want to
> be associated with a system that has consumer items on it. I didn't 
> work my tail off for years to achieve the freedom to pursue knowledge
> in a tenured position to end up hawking stuff - that's all it would be
> - hawking stuff, any way you spin it. Google does page ranks, 
> shopping sites rank products and dealers, Amazon has customer reviews,
> Consumer Reports has useful tests and analyses. Having "neutral"
> items on consumer goods and services is close to an oxymoron in this 
> world.
> I've had numerous opportunities over the years to get involved with
> commercial interests. I've just said no. I'm not rich, but I'm
> happy. And I intend to stay that way.
> Hope this post to the list I'm a member of is not held again, as my
> previous two were, and still are impounded.
>  - Bob Futrelle
> On 10/31/06, Larry Sanger < sanger-lists at citizendium.org
<mailto:sanger-lists at citizendium.org> > wrote:
>  All,
> I've been approached by and will soon meet face-to-face with a major
> online who may be interested in supporting a consumer information
> This could result in *large* amounts of support for CZ. So, I'd like to
> you to help me think through the opportunity and the best way to approach
> it.
> In a global economy, with new companies and new products appearing all the

> time, with the main source of consumer information being manipulative
> commercials and box labels, what could be more valuable to the world than
> *truly neutral* source of information about products? 
> The idea requires that we radically expand the notion of what is included
> an encyclopedia, to encompass, well, *anything* of general interest. It
> would really put the meat on the bones of "the citizens' compendium of 
> everything." It would involve information about every product (and,
> in time, every business, and every movie, and every song...) that someone
> wanted to be listed. This is crazy, of course. But there is a major player

> who might provide truly significant support to help us bring it into
> The *only* way to make this feasible, I think, is to create a groundswell
> public support for the project. For that to happen, there must be, as
> a *credible non-profit* organization behind it; the development of the
> database must be maximally open and transparent; the results must be open
> content, of course; and the system whereby information is input is as
> as possible.
> But the *first and most important* constraint on this project that came to
> my mind when I started thinking about it is that the information must be
> neutral, and there must be effective (but still efficient!) ways to make 
> sure that the information remains neutral. We must tread *very* carefully
> if we want to become a purveyor of consumer information, because the
> financial interests who might want to get involved could make it *so*
> of course, to corrupt the fairness and reliability of the database. But
> best way to secure this is precisely for the project to be maximally
> open, and transparent.
> Another constraint is that entries for products should not be flat wiki 
> pages, but database entries, with preassigned fields, and of course with
> fields differing depending on product type. In every other respect,
> however, it could be a wiki.
> There is no *good* reason that I can see why this should not be part of
> same database that is the Citizendium. What is needed, for articles about
> Kings and philosophers, and for products, is a neutral source of general
> information.
> One last thing to mention is that, in negotiating with this major online 
> player, we walk a fine line. We want to provide this entity an incentive
> support the Citizendium. But we cannot do that and compromise the
> neutrality of the database. The question that I will be thinking a great 
> deal about is why they should support a non-profit organization that is
> committed to neutrality. What reason can I give them? Of course, if I can
> give them no persuasive reasons, then we won't pursue the opportunity. 
> --Larry
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Robert P. Futrelle
    Associate Professor
Biological Knowledge Laboratory
College of Computer and Information Science
Northeastern University MS WVH202
360 Huntington Ave. 
Boston, MA 02115

Office: (617)-373-4239
Fax:    (617)-373-5121
http://www.bionlp.org  <http://www.bionlp.org> 
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David Goodman, Ph.D, M.L.S. 

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