Thursday, April 21, 2011

Articles on the web need to be prominently dated

During my morning read-through of the day's news I ran across this link pointing to a Washington Post article disclosing the existence of what are essentially secret police operations conducted by the FBI without a court order. Naturally my blood began to boil and I dashed off an indignant blog post. Only after I published the post and it had been up for a while did I notice that the article was from 2007.

This is one of the problems with digital media. Back when newspapers were on paper it was easy to tell if an article was old: the paper would be yellow and frayed. There are no such cues on the web. Every article is as pristine as the day it was written, so unless there are some obvious stylistic cues there is no way to tell when a particular article was written unless it is dated. And even if it is dated, can you really trust the date?

The web really needs some infrastructure for producing reliable and prominent timestamps.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Agreed, Ron!

At least you were able to find a date for the article in question. Every once in a while I come across a news article that seems stale, and there's no date anywhere on the page. A random thought piece is one thing, but these were actual, published by a news organization, news articles!

-- Frank