Relative Celebrity and Reputation


Britt's working on a concept he calls Relative Celebrity. The idea is that in the world of the long tail, there is some ranking and "every member of a network must be related to someone who is closer to the action - relatively speaking, a celebrity - and also act as a valued conduit of news, gossip and conjecture for others, acting as that person's relative celebrity."

It's an intriguing idea and one that makes me think about reputation and it's value in a global Internet sense. To date, online reputation systems have been localized to a particular Web site because of a very real limitation: our identities are localized to those same stovepipes Web sites.

The emergence of user-centric, wide-area identity systems like OpenID and CardSpace provide the infrastructure necessary to enable wide-area reputation as well.

Britt uses the word "status" in his post, but while it can be construed as that, I think it's much deeper. The word "status" implies something that's good for the person who has it, but conveys little social good. On the other hand, reputation is widely seen by economists, sociologists, and psychologists as something with real social value.

To have social value, reputation has to be the basis of trust in the society and there has to be reciprocity. Reputation is a measure of an entity's past actions and factual attributes. Trust is an expectation of future behavior. Reciprocity is the idea that "good" actions will be met by society with positive results and "bad" actions with negative results.

I think Britt's on the right track with what he's proposing. To really function, social systems have to have reputation, trust, and reciprocity baked in. Without it, there's no real social contract and no real society.