Identity and Reputation are of interest to me since they are related to my PhD – and hence I have a viewpoint on this story ..
I have learnt a lot from a UK based online networking site called ecademy – both the Dos and the Don’ts ..
This is a case of ‘Don’ts
For me, the story starts with an article about Ecademy founder Thomas Power in the BBC.
Since I got to know this from another source – I thought that it was unusual – since any PR mention of Ecademy is widely propagated on the site ..
Unless .. It is not exactly flattering ..
Which it transpires – it was not!
The issue has to do with Thomas using ‘ghost bloggers’ i.e. paying people to write on his behalf under his name ..
Indeed, famous politicians use ghost writers .. And so do others use ghost writers ..
What’s wrong in doing the same online?
A LOT in my view ..
Let’s take a step back ..
Identity is based on primary attributes (such as biometric information). In the absence of primary attributes, Conferred Identity is used which is based on attributes from accepted sources (such as a passport).
Reputation is what others say about me. The more ‘reputed’ these other people are and the more they ‘know’ you and vouch for you – the better your reputation
All this takes an interesting turn in the online world
Online Identity does not necessarily mirror your ‘real’ identity. Thus, Online Identity is malleable. Hence it needs to be complemented by reputation.
In other words, Reputation becomes a very important part of my online identity because my online identity is malleable and non unique.
Also, Reputation is additive i.e. accumulates over time. Thus, online Identity and reputation are interlinked – and may even be synonymous
It is in this context that – a ghost blog writers become a betrayal of Identity, Reputation and ultimately .. that most valued of commodities online – Trust!
If the person behind the blog is ‘not’ Thomas – how can I trust Thomas? How can the people ‘vouching’ for a blogger – know who they are vouching for(since Identity has got muddied now)?
Thus, there is a breakdown of Reputation(since the Identity of the blogger is unknown) and also trust.
The BBC article quotes Thomas as: “People expect me to have a profile on all the social networks – Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn,”
My view is .. Not really .. No .. people simply expect us to be ourselves and human ..
Behind the scenes cloning is not human!