Vision and Mission
Vision. Ever since the advent of the Internet and social media, the pace of innovation in the information ecosystem has accelerated in all respects. In particular, the collapse of technological and economic barriers relating to the publication of information has led to the multiplication of the number of active participants in the production of publicly available knowledge, thus essentially shifting the strategic system of information filters from pre-publication to post-publication and creating a new paradigm for the information ecosystem.
In this context, the concept of “quality of information” is one of the notions that is most affected by this transformation. In the previous paradigm, quality was the implicit result of editorial filters, of traditional authority and of the powers that were able to allow or forbid publication. These filters have certainly not ceased to exist but one is now having to deal with a situation where anything can be posted and published without many preliminary network filters, then searched for, viewed and interpreted with the use of technology and practices that are completely new and evolving.
The quality of information standards that were previously defined by those controlling the filters prior to publication, must now be evaluated in reverse, on the basis of a logic and mechanisms that are still being defined. The fundamental dynamic that has been active in this new environment is the activation of social filters, based on the action of people who express themselves, connect together, and recognise one another on line, perhaps reconstructing elements of social capital that had been partially lost, in the previous era, (or at least creating the conditions for this to happen).
The quality of information in the era of social media is therefore a research topic of primary importance, because it is at the root of the construction of a common agenda and coordination between individuals. Understanding the dynamics of the quality of information in social media means proposing hypotheses about the feasibility of building platforms that can provide an incentive for it, systematically rejecting any proposed "top down" definition of the “quality of information” that would not only be a losing proposition, given the logic of the network, but which would betray its historic role in balancing the social capital lost by the excess of influence of the media hierarchy that existed in the previous paradigm. In reality, by just aiming at understanding how to allow for a set of practices to emerge, that are oriented toward the quality of networked information in a logical "bottom up" approach, one should be able to renew the very concept of quality of information, improving the dynamics of the definition of a common agenda.
Mission. The mission of Ahref is to develop research on the quality of information that emerges from the social networks that are enabled by the Internet and digital media, with the aim of hypothesising, designing, implementing, testing and establishing logical incentives that encourage the improvement of the quality of the information itself.
This involves a number of and analyses: the definition of "quality of information" and "information", a knowledge of the social and technological dynamics of the network of people who connect and express themselves on the Internet; the relationship between these digital networks and the wider social network that is being developed in the territory, an understanding of the non-linear logic that can be recognized in the complex ecosystem of information, the elaboration of hypotheses about what can be understood as an incentive mechanism in this context and the roles and capabilities of the various participants in the ecosystem itself.