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Cognitive Authority, Credibility and Legal Information

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  • 1. Cognitive Authority, Credibility and Legal Information James Kalbach, May 2004
  • 2. Comparison Of Two Resources: 1. Robert C Berring , “Legal Information and the Search for Cognitive Authority”, UC Berkeley School of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory, Working Paper No. 99-1 , Sept. 1999. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/BPL/BPL1Berring.pdf Also for Shepards: http://www.aallnet.org/products/2000-13.pdf http://www.llrx.com/features/keycite.htm 2. BJ Fogg , Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Morgan Kaufmann, 2002. http://credibility.stanford.edu/ http://www.webcredibility.org/guidelines/ http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030303.html
  • 3. Cognitive Authority - Berring
    • Berring: Cognitive authority is“ the act by which one confers trust upon a source”
    • He sees a paradigm shift in the legal information world – “Legal information is in the midst of a great change”
    • Previous Legal Information Scene in U.S.:
    • Stable, widespread agreement
    • Small set of independent, for-profit enterprises
    • Ex: Shepards and National Reporter System
  • 4. Cognitive Authority - Berring
    • What brought on this shift in the U.S.?
    • Increased computer experience and expectations
    • Consolidation of publishers
    • Internet
    • Change in use in 21 st century (who, how, where, when) changes the institutional cognitive authority of the 20 th century
    • LexisNexis and West, however, were following the old tradition and were not catalysts for this change
  • 5. Ex: Shepards - Berring
    • First appeared on both LEXIS and WESTLAW
    • Bought outright in 1998
    • In 2000 no longer on WESTLAW, which means:
    • Shepards now a competitive product and a comodity
    • Cognitive authority of the name gone – has to prove it is a superior system
    • Berring - “Reed made what I view as a terrible blunder”
    • What happens when “shepardizing” becomes genericized and/or other citation systems appear?
  • 6. Predictions - Berring
    • What will replace traditional cognitive authority?
    • Large amounts of free or cheap data
      • - LEXIS and WEST won’t only be competing against each other, but also against outsiders (e.g. government, academia, non-profit institutions)
    • Value enhanced Information – Quality is key! Beyond accuracy, comprehensiveness and up-to-date:
      • Editorial content and additions
      • Linking of information and exposing relationships
      • Search engines and algorithms
      • Interface, ease of use, and user experience
  • 7. Credibility - Fogg BJ Fogg – Persuasive Technology Credibility is a perceived quality that doesn’t reside in an object, a person, or a piece of information Perceived Trustworthiness (goodness, morality) + Perceived Expertise (knowledge, skill) = Perceived Credibility (believability)
  • 8. Credibility - Fogg
    • Ongoing web credibility studies http://credibility.stanford.edu/
    • Four types of credibility:
    • Presumed – General assumption of perceiver
    • Surface – Inspection and initial experience
    • Reputed – Third-party endorsements
    • Earned – Firsthand experience over time
  • 9. Examples of Web Credibility - Fogg
    • Elements that increase PRESUMED credibility:
      • Site represents a non-profit organization
      • The URL ends in .org
      • The site provides links to its competitors’ sites
      • Site says it is the official site for a topic
    • Elements that increase REPUTED credibility:
      • Displays an award it has won
      • Inbound links from a credible site
      • Was recommended by a friend
  • 10. Examples of Web Credibility - Fogg
    • Elements that increase SURFACE credibility:
      • Looks professionally designed
      • Has been updated since your last visit
    • Elements that decrease SURFACE credibility:
      • Hard to distinguish ads from content
      • Pops up with ads
      • Long time to download
      • Requires paid subscription to gain access
      • One or more ads on each page
  • 11. Examples of Web Credibility – Fogg
    • Elements that increase EARNED credibility:
      • Quick response to customer service questions
      • Transactions confirmed by email
      • Site arranged in a way that makes sense to you
      • Site recognizes that you have been there before
      • Selects news stories according to your preferences
      • Ads match topic you are reading about
    • Elements that decrease EARNED credibility:
      • Difficult to navigate
  • 12. Summary If Berring were to use Fogg’s language, he might make this statement: We are experiencing a paradigm shift in the credibility of legal information As presumed and reputed credibility change and weaken, surface credibility and (more importantly) earned credibility become much more significant.
  • 13. ? Paradigm shift in legal information - Assumptions of the past are changing Quality of content should not be replaced or glossed over by “glitzy” interface design However, credibility (and cognitive authority) also lies in the product design – more so than before Given these guidelines, what can we do to increase the credibility of our products?

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