Monday, July 20, 2009


I have written about reputation in the past and continue to evolve my thinking on the subject. I had an interesting interaction last weekend with Lillie Coney of EPIC while on a panel together at ALA. Lillie described the legal frameworks that exist to both protect and circumvent our privacy as a lawyer and a privacy expert she described the steps necessary to strengthen our privacy position in the law. I found myself pushing back on Lillie; expressing that Reputation systems are just as important as systems of accountability for privacy as legal frameworks. If we had more time I think we might have had an interesting discussion on the subject.

Here's the summary I reached in my head: I do not deny that the legal system works to protect our privacy interests at certain levels. However, as an individual with a compaint against a large company I have very little recourse. For me to take action, personally, against a large corporation is prohibitavly time consuming and costly. I believe that robust reputation systems can help give me a way to have a voice.

We know that there are places that the legal system works. We know that there are places that reputation systems work. There is a gap between these 2 places where very little works. Lille was explaining how we fill that gap with legal framework. I propose that we can also fill that gap with well constructed reputation systems. I don't think this is an either-or situation; together these things can provide robust protection and accountability that is available to everyone.

My point is that while those of us who think about reputation recognize the importance of the legal frameworks, I'm not sure that the people who work on the legal frameworks recognize the importance of the reputation systems.

What do you think?