Reputation systems

Time is the one precious commodity. You can’t change what you do with it, you can’t rewind the steady increase of entropy. Even though it may decrease locally, across the whole universe it’s alway on the rise (at least as far as physicists have collectively determined… I’m sure that there are eccentric exception that think otherwise).

In relation to that, our attention is also precious. So what, and more specifically, who, do we pay attention to?

In Accelerando, by Charles Stross, the author introduces the concept of reputation markets, where someone’s reputation can be bartered a bit like a final currency.

I kind of like the idea. You could immediately get a sense of whether you should trust someone or not, and whether you want to hire them for a particular job. On a more day-to-day level, hooking in things like car registration numbers means that people could provide feedback on the driving on others… “sure you might be a nice person to work with generally, but behind the wheel you’re a nutter who also refuses to indicate out of round-abouts” (that might be my pet peeve along with tail-gaters and people that don’t know how to merge).

Of course, this is flawed first by the privacy implications and also by the fact the people are more likely to feel the need to report negative experiences than positive.



2 comments ↓

#1   James MM on 07.25.09 at 10:55 am

Indeed, a valuable-sounding idea on the face of it, but as often happens, privacy issues factor in.

This makes me think of the website couchsurfing.com, which uses a system of ‘vouching’ and references from others, similar to restaurant reviews, to allow potential hosts to weigh up a possible guest’s potential to go sideways on them.

Currently we rely on antiquated ideas like The Law to take bad drivers off the road (which is working REAL well…) or burglars in jail (…). It’s a persistent oxymoron that the middle ground – between the high and the low – is notoriously difficult to reach. Any policy analyst can attest to that.

#2   Joel on 07.25.09 at 12:46 pm

Yeah, there are quite a few different options of reputation sites. LinkedIn is similar – but specifically aimed at career and professional reputation.

I guess it’d be hard to get people to sign up to a generic reputation site, since, if anybody can comment and it’s for all aspects of life, then anyone whose been burned by someone (even if inadvertently) will potentially make it known.

Plus humans have a bias towards reporting negative experiences… so that could skew things too.

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