Mar 2, 2008

Book: Future of Reputations

An interesting book The Future of Reputation, by Daniel J. Solove is now available for free online. It describes itself in the introduction:

This is a book about how the free flow of information on the Internet can make us less free. We live in an age drenched in data, and the implications are both wonderful and terrifying. The Internet places a seemingly endless library in our homes; it allows us to communicate with others instantly; and it enables us to spread information with an efficiency and power that humankind has never before witnessed. The free flow of information on the Internet provides wondrous new opportunities for people to express themselves and communicate.

But there’s a dark side. As social reputation–shaping practices such as gossip and shaming migrate to the Internet, they are being transformed in significant ways. Information that was once scattered, forgettable, and localized is becoming permanent and searchable. Ironically, the free flow of information threatens to undermine our freedom in the future.

These transformations pose threats to people’s control over their reputations and their ability to be who they want to be.
More on this topic
It is often thought that a team of editors or moderators could go through each item of information submitted to verify the veracity. But then the volume of information submitted in an open online environment has the potential to easily overwhelm the resources (particulary human resources) we deploy. Even more difficult are the cases where conclusions submitted online can be a single side in an unresolved debate.

The solutions to these problems probably lie in the very openness of the environment that is setup. First of all a disclaimer can be published that the information given is not necessarily verified. After that, self-assessing mechanisms can be enabled that contributors use to assess and qualify the authority of information objects found online, such as ratings.

There has been the emergence of certain organisations that offer reputation-monitoring services. They keep an eye on every online manifestation relevant to your interest and keep you informed if anything untoward takes place. One such is distilled.

No comments: