Thursday, June 22, 2006
I only know him by reputation...Phil Windley has a post today about the Principles of Reputation - and it's as succinct a discussion of that elusive topic as I've seen yet. It came out of a discussion at the Open Space day associated with the Identity Mashup at Berkman. I don't agree with all of the principles as stated, but it is a very good beginning.
As I envision reputation, though, I believe it to be a unique quality of each persona. That is, no single persona could have more than one reputation. So each digital context of your identity would develop both it's own persona and it's own reputation. That reputation belongs to you, but it's neither created nor maintained by you. That does mean, of course, that you need to always be aware of your reputation to guard against it becomming an adverse attribute for your persona.
Once we've been able to get a grip on what reputation is, perhaps then we can move on to how to leverage that reputation within identity transactions.
Whilst I agree on most of the points raised by Phil, I have to disagree with the comments that Dave is making on persona. To quote:
“That is, no single persona could have more than one reputation. So each digital context of your identity would develop both it’s own persona and it’s own reputation. That reputation belongs to you, but it’s neither created nor maintained by you. That does mean, of course, that you need to always be aware of your reputation to guard against it becomming an adverse attribute for your persona.”
This is where I have the problem. Dave is stating that a persona (a ‘view’ of your identity) is derived from the context of the identity. I would disagree. I believe that I a particular persona has multiple contexts associated with it and that each context has a different reputation.
For example, I have the identity ‘Paul Toal’. One view of my identity is my ‘work’ persona. This is the view of my identity as perceived when I am at work. This obviously differs from my ‘home’ persona. However, even within my work persona, my reputation around the office with my fellow employees is different from that of my reputation with clients that I work for. Therefore, even though it is my single persona, the context (employees or clients) means that I have different reputations for each.
This is the same as what Phil is saying in his post:
“Reputation exists in the context of community.“
Another of Dave’s comments is that “reputation belongs to you.” Again, I disagree (sorry Dave!). The reputation is about you but is not owned by you. It is purely a weighted aggregate concerning what people say about you. Take eBay’s feedback for example. The result of your reputation is a percentage score which is aggregated from the feedback of all individual people you have transacted with.
The whole discussion of reputation does start to come round full circle when you start to look at the weighting. If I ask my a colleague at work what they think about the Prime Minister and ask a stranger in the street, firstly, both their opinions would be based on Tony’s reputation. Secondly, would I put more weighting on my colleague’s opinion because I know them as opposed to the stranger. Of course I would! However, it is because of their reputation that I know them and therefore place more emphasis on their opinion.
I think a lot more discussion will take place around reputation before we get a consolidated understanding of where it can fit into Identity and how we can use it. This is where I do agree with Dave. As he quite rightly states:
“Once we’ve been able to get a grip on what reputation is, perhaps then
we can move on to how to leverage that reputation within identity
The point about reputation is that it depends on who you ask and what you're asking about. If you ask Dave about my ability to write doggerel (or or the ability one of my gaming personae to shoot a laser rifle if you'd rather) then you might get one answer (or more depending on his mood) but if you ask Sears about my ability to pay bills on time or buy lawn care equipment, you may get another answer or no answer.Post a Comment
So it seems to me that the heart of the reputation question is who controls the set of folks whose opinions are aggregated for the purpose of establishing a reputation a persona. This is what I think Paul refers to as context.
There are always going to be folks out there who are either on your A-list or on your S-list. Perhaps we should look at e-reputation as we do "Reputation" in the more generic sense. It's an ill-defined, highly variable thing that may or may not be helpful or harmful is establishing a relationship of some kind. Like "real-world" reputations, we should keep it in mind, but ultimately we need to get down to e-references where we solicit a cadre of folks to whom we delegate the responsibility of commenting honestly and/or favorably about ourselves. We provide this set of folks (could be organizations) to anyone who wants to form an opinion about us. As well, we need to identify a group of folks whose e-pinions we trust regardless of whether the identity in question has presented them as e-references or not. There may be folks who are in the business of vouching for others; there may be folks who we trust for various reasons to make a recommendation when asked. The point is that we need input from those who are biased toward the target, those who have our best interests at heart and those who are at least ostensibly neutral.
In this kind of environment, we would weigh the responses about some identity that we are asking about because of a pending relationship that we are in the process of making. We would ask about reputational values from sources of our choosing and the target identity's choosing and factor that into the overall decision along with the opinions of self-appointed professional busybodies. In the end you still have to decide whether or not to enter into the pending relationship.
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