Too Much Information Damages Your Reputation
I love Reason. They’re one of the best magazines out there. It’s not just because they’re libertarian, but because they also cover technology, policy, and even occasionally stuff like transhumanism and science. They do a lot of things.
The above link is an article by Greg Beato on how, in our social media age, we share so many things, our reputation’s are bound to take a beating no matter what happens, and we are all at the mercy of information, most of which we can’t control, but don’t even know exists in the first place. Here’s a snippet:
There was a really good short story about a society like this. The story was “The Right’s Tough,” by Robert J. Sawyer, and I found it in an anthology called Visions of Liberty, which is sadly out of print. In it, Earth is an anarcho-capitalist utopia, but everyone carries weblinks that identify their reputation score. For instance, a thief moving through a crowd warns everyone else’s weblinks, and so a bubble emerges around the thief. That’s a good application. However, just before that, one character asks for another to cover him for lunch, but the second character’s weblink pulls up the first’s history, showing that he had overdue debt–and that he was stingy on the tip last year with a third person. I think we can all agree that is just TMI.
Then again, maybe I’m just an old fart.
One good idea I like in the piece is the concept of “reputation bankruptcy,” where you get information on you wiped every so often. Bankruptcy is a vital part of our market, where people who have made mistakes can wipe their slates clean and try again. It’s necessary; if you’re never allowed to recover from failure, how can you succeed down the line? I don’t see why it shouldn’t be extended to reputation and information. Beato’s own solution is to overpower the bad data with good data, which I suppose works, but that seems to be hewing too close to “just be a good guy and the truth will come out.” That doesn’t always work.
As for myself, I have my Facebook and old Livejournal locked down, with the occasional public entries. My Twitter is public, but it’s intended to be. I’m careful about what I say–though I do occasionally swear–and I don’t rush into things (or at least, don’t try to.) I will admit, it is extremely annoying to do so, and I don’t feel it’s fair. We shouldn’t have to do it. Unfortunately, life is not fair, and we have to compromise. Maybe that will change one day. But it will not be this day.