Article by Mark Graham in Slate, Nov. 30, 2015:

Why Does Google Say Jerusalem Is the Capital of Israel?
It has to do with the fact that the Web is now optimized for machines, not


[...] because of the ease of separating content from containers, the
provenance of data is often obscured. Contexts are stripped away, and
sources vanish into Google’s black box. For instance, most of the
information in Google’s infoboxes on cities doesn’t tell us where the data
is sourced from.

Second, because of the stripping away of context, it can be challenging to
represent important nuance. In the case of Jerusalem, the issue is less
that particular viewpoints about the city’s status as a capital are true or
false, but rather that there can be multiple truths, all of which are hard
to fold into a single database entry. Finally, it’s difficult for users to
challenge or contest representations that they deem to be unfair. Wikidata
is, and Freebase used to be, built on user-generated content, but those
users tend to be a highly specialized group—it’s not easy for lay users to
participate in those platforms. And those platforms often aren’t the place
in which their data is ultimately displayed, making it hard for some users
to find them. Furthermore, because Google’s Knowledge Base is so opaque
about where it pulls its information from, it is often unclear if those
sites are even the origins of data in the first place.

Jerusalem is just one example among many in which knowledge bases are
increasingly distancing (and in some case cutting off) debate about
contested knowledges of places. [followed by more examples]

My point is not that any of these positions are right or wrong. It is
instead that the move to linked data and the semantic Web means that many
decisions about how places are represented are increasingly being made by
people and processes far from, and invisible to, people living under the
digital shadows of those very representations. Contestations are
centralized and turned into single data points that make it difficult for
local citizens to have a significant voice in the co-construction of their
own cities. [...]

Linked data and the machine-readable Web have important implications for
representation, voice, and ultimately power in cities, and we need to
ensure that we aren't seduced into codifying, categorizing, and structuring
in cases when ambiguity, not certainty, reigns.
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