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Reputation Online discussion at BarCampRDU

I led a discussion on Saturday at BarCampRDU on “Reputation Online”. I had 12 of my closest new friends surround me at a table in Room C and we talked for about an hour. The illustrious Paul Jones has a short set of notes about the authors/works he pulled from the back of his brain (how does he do that?).

The two things I notice most about online reputation at this point in time is that everyone has an opinion and that the tools are so rough (read: bad). Usually the opinions are strong. Anyone who has bought or sold something online, determined whether someone is date-worthy, or investigated who edited the One True Wiki has an opinion about what they want and what could be better.

We talked about eBay and Amazon, claimID and my theory on consolidation of self. I was surprised by the lack of squirming that usually appears when I begin talking about how I think there will be very little public anonymity in the future. Private transactions, we’ll have covered – you’ll be able to purchase something from those you already trust with a minimum of credential passing, as your physical-world credentials and prior history will do just fine. Publicly purchasing something from a stranger, however, will require a trust and reputation that will be provided by third parties and confirmation services.

Since spamming a reputation requires more friction than spamming (artificially inflating) an eBay score or an Amazon persona, these transactions will become more secure. As the bar rises for what the ‘average’ consumer expects (they currently expect a little lock in the bottom corner of the browser), all our ships rise. The friction and effort required to create and maintain a ‘fake’ persona, in order to scam someone, will climb as well.

The group in Room C seemed to buy this argument and, to a man, agreed that we were going to consolidate our public selves in this way. Does that mean that I am very convincing? Does it mean I’m simply the one who has thought about this the most of the people in the room? Or am I actually right? What am I missing? Why is it so obvious?

Boy do I need some numbers to back this stuff up.

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