Is reputation obsolete?

20 Oct 2008

In the past, most conversations were ephemeral: spoken words quickly slipped into the past, resurrected only if a listener later repeated them from memory. Today, many discussions and transactions live on indefinitely. Online conversations are often permanently archived and events in the face-to-face world are frequently recorded. We photograph each other at events both significant and mundane, and upload the images to public media-feeds. Records of our travel times, purchases, health conditions, phone calls, and more exist in vast corporate and government databases. 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?

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