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Is reputation obsolete?

Is reputation obsolete?: “Today, I often no longer have to rely on someone else’s account of your past behavior: I can see for myself.
In a world in which all action is recorded, is there still need for reputation information? If I can see the events of the past for myself, is getting other people’s potentially biased and self-serving opinions about it worth anything? Or, has reputation become obsolete?”
The question of the obsolescence of reputation is provocative. Maybe I’m unusually dense today, but I don’t fully follow the author’s argument. It’s not reputation that’s obsolete. Closed reputation, accessible only under certain restrictions (usually monetary or some type of privilege), is increasingly obsolete. Reputation is open due to online participation. People can read what our views were 5 or 10 years ago. They can evaluate us by our behaviour in other forums. Reputation still remains as an important way to understand other people.


  1. Chris Lott wrote:

    As in a previous comment, it’s not a binary thing. The article actually seems to make a case opposite its title– not that reputation is obsolete, but that everyone can rely on reputation as assessed by themselves. What is less and less necessary is a reliance on the reputation as a metric expressed by others. I don’t need as many book or movie or professor reviews when I can look at the text, listen to the music, or look at the curriculum and artifacts for myself.

    And, of course, the available criteria and characteristics used to evaluate reputation have expanded greatly…

    But the elephant in the room is, as is often the case, *time*. I could evaluate reputation for much more myself, but I don’t have the time… so in many cases I trust my social network to convey reputation.

    Friday, October 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Jeff Skipper wrote:

    I read some sci-fi where your reputation was listed on the world exchange and was evaluated accordingly as people read newsitems where your name was associated. I don’t think that will be far from where we end up. Reputation is evolving. When we select a new employee, there is a reasonable viewpoint that we are buying a reputation (we have not yet seen performance).


    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

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  1. EDITing in the Dark » Who was/am/will I be? on Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 9:08 am

    [...] to bounce and echo much louder over the next couple of days and arriving at an idea put forward by George Siemens, that repution may be obsolete because we can, on our own determine the history of an individual, [...]