I’ll be trying to comment on a conference I’m attending today on “reputation economies in cyberspace.” Here’s an overview from the conference website:
Reputation, which plays a key role in almost any economic or social system, is a fundamental, but not well understood, aspect of online business transactions, peer production of information and knowledge, and exchanges within virtual social communities. Traditional modes of authentication, accreditation, reputation, and prior acquaintance with participants rely on the social norms of close-knit communities and the accountability of meeting face to face. Since these mechanisms usually do not apply to online environments, we have witnessed the development of alternative models for reputation management including third-party certificate authorities, peer-produced evaluations, ratings, stars, points, karma and others.
Dan Solove’s book on The Future of Reputation does a great job talking about the most compelling “human interest” stories in the privacy realm. I look forward to hearing from many panelists today on more mundane, but quite important, efforts to translate old reputation measures (like FICO scores) into new cyber-realms (like deciding whom to loan money to on prosper.com or Kiva).
UPDATE: Be sure to check out Rebecca Tushnet’s superb commentary (there are likely other posts around that one).