Michael Froomkin quotes and links to a post at Terra Nova about “automated expertise management” in an online world. The core notion is that the game engine automatically creates a database that stores and distributes information about the game-playing expertise of its players. Players, objects, and quests are coded. For players who opt in to the system, playing automatically generates (shall we say “radiates”?) information for the database.
Michael wonders: “Itâ€™s not that hard to imagine how this gets generalized to other types of online activities within structured settingsâ€¦maybe google searches, ebay bidding strategies, or comparative shopping. Itâ€™s somewhat harder to see how this helps me outside structured action/query-response environments. But if it didâ€¦”
Hmmm. Like Michael, I’m thinking through a paper about networks and information. I have an easier time, maybe, in imagining how to apply this kind of information aggregation/distribution in other contexts — even offline contexts. Ross Mayfield at Many to Many has been talking about new social software tags at Technorati, which may turn out to be useful not just in search environments but more broadly in building, defining, and maintaining “communities” (networks?) of various sorts. Or knowing more about trustworthiness and identity. Imagine formally “tagging” people offline, as noted the other day by Susan Crawford, following Jeff Jarvis.
The sociology of this stuff is intriguing, but on its own it’s mostly beyond me. What I’m trying to think through is what any and all of it tells us about law — law in general, as well as law in these domains. Question one, among many: Is there any sense in regulating where and how tagging gets done? Who uses the tags, and why? And “tagging” evokes so many metaphors — “tag, you’re it!” and “tagging” as a way of marking a “tagger”‘s territory in a city, as well as HTML and related coding — that identifying a normative baseline is going to be especially difficult.