Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Your reputation precedes you

Dave agrees with Phil that reputation will be 'the next big thing for IIW', and seemingly by implication, perhaps for the identity world.

Reputation did indeed seem to be a 'topic of interest' at IIW.

Abbie Barbir presented on a proposed OASIS TC for 'Open Reputation Management Systems'. (I wonder if we could all agree to simply take the 'open' on faith and stop prefacing everything we do with the descriptor?).

Additionally, Phil's BYU grad students were always around to talk about their reputation work, which I assume was presented at some time but I missed it.

And of course, IIW itself is a forum where people's reputations get reconciled with reality.

But I question whether reputation is yet ready for 'Big Thing' status. I contend that a necessary underpinning of meaningful reputation is a consistent social layer, so that my reputation can be informed by those that best know me, in addition to or instead of those with whom I've simply interacted with online (a la eBay's or Slashdot's model etc.)

Sometimes reputation needs to be based on real and not merely transactional experience. Employers base a hiring decision on both references and past employment history, not one or the other.

And while it may make less sense to talk about a provider's 'Buddy List' when thinking about its reputation, I would likely want to give greater weight to the opinions of my own friends when calculating that reputation than somebody named 'NotMyRealName2007'.

So, I believe that an individual's social network (I've decided to alternate between using 'network' and 'graph' on a weekly basis) can feed into both their own reputation, as well as how they calculate the reputations of other parties.

For reputation to be the next big thing would imply that the necessary social footings are in place - that we've 'solved' social identity. Notwithstanding the recent gush of enthusiasm over the potential for freshly final OpenID and OAuth, in combination with XFN and FOAF, to do this, or alternative systems like Liberty People Service, we have not solved social identity.



1 comment:

racingsnake said...

Hmm. I don't know if "reputation" is about to have its proverbial 'day in the sun' this year, but it is something I've been wittering on about since the middle of 2005 (!). Mind you, like Isaac Newton, I was standing on the shoulders of giants, in the form of Lance Piper.

I agree with you, though, that a lot of other things have to be in place before reputation-based services can make any sense for Web 2.0.

Here's what I was thinking at the beginning of December last year:

I keep looking back to Lance Piper's work of a couple of years ago, and concluding that it really was visionary in many respects - not least, because it recognises a fundamental shift in the way identity is conceived. Over the last few centuries, we have moved from a purely social concept of personal identity, to a concept of personal identity mediated through credentials issued by a trusted third party (principally, the state), and now to a concept of personal identity where those mediating credentials compete for importance with the broad spectrum of data available about an individual in the public domain.

That introduces two problems. The first that it requires better interpretation, audit and governance of many disparate pieces of data, instead of the comfortable preceding model of total reliance on a "high-trust" credential. The second, as we have found out in the last ten days, is that in the absence of that capability, the old systems are likely to have a real problem dealing with the mass compromise of those "high-trust" credentials.