Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More on reputation

Chris Ceppi has an interesting post today looking at the implicit web and the Attention Trust (which I commented on almost exactly 2 years ago as the " Dewy-eyed Org of the month"). Ceppi rightly states that "An attention data parsing algorithm that can produce a precise identity profile could have a profound impact." But whether that's a positive impact is something neither of us is sure of. As Ceppi says:

"If you asked me today, I'd say I browse, write, and read on the Internet to address some basic human concerns around career, education, networking, community, entertainment, etc. Admirable stuff. Trouble is, the computer that analyzes my attention data may come up with a different interpretation. Am I really interested in having my self-image subject to an objective analysis? Maybe I am, but it may take me a while to get to know and like the person who is revealed by my online behavior."

Almost all proposals to use the so-called "attention" data are premised on the idea that we only look at those things that we are actively seeking. Remember that the next time you're in traffic that's come to a halt because of: a) two cars on the side of the road after a fender-bender; b) a herd of goats eating grass or c) a flashing sign with no actual information on it. Often we give a bit of attention to something because we're distracted or bored. By mindlessly collecting (but not weighting) all of these "attention bits," an aggregator can get quite a misguided image of us, or reputation for us. And, as any politician can tell you, it isn't the things you do intentionally that get remembered...


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