Reputation is Contextual

A guest post by Drummond Reed of Connect.Me:

The Reputone represents one of the key themes of this year’s Sibos: that reputation is a social currency, and one that is steadily increasing in value. However as a social currency, reputation differs markedly in certain aspects from conventional “hard” currencies. For example, it is a mantra in reputation systems that reputation is contextual.

This means that, in contrast to hard currencies whose purpose is to represent as uniform standard of value as possible everywhere they’re used, reputational value can only be measured within a specific context, and it is only partially transferrable—at best—to other contexts. To use some broad brush examples: while Einstein may have discovered relativity, Pele could run circles around him on a soccer field; neither could hold a paintbrush to Pablo Picasso; and none of them could hold a note like Luciano Pavarotti.

As Randy Farmer and Bryce Glass state in the excellent O’Reilly book, Building Web Reputation Systems, “Things can have reputations in multiple contexts simultaneously. Furthermore, not all of an item’s reputations need agree across contexts. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that they will. It’s entirely possible to have an excellent reputation in on context, and abysmal one in another, and no reputation at all in a third. No one excels at everything, after all.”

This doesn’t make reputation any less valuablein fact it may make it even more valuable for certain types of relationships, because it can adapt its value to the locality of the context. “Money can’t buy me love”but a great reputation in the right context might.

Keep this in mind as you exchange Reputones at Sibos. You are the only and only person who decides what context in which you will award someone Reputoneswhich also means each time you award one, you are saying something about yourself. (More about that in another post.)