Reputation, Identity, Trust, Thomas Power and Cloning ..

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! :)


  1. Emalyse says:

    Mr Power seems to see himself much like Andy Warhol did as a brand in which work is delegated so that ‘Thomas Power’ in his eyes is a brand identity. It would be better if he just dictated his views for all his social networking outlets and employed others to do the spade work of writing it up (much like an inker and colourist enhance an animators original sketches). Writing about this process in such a clinical way is what seems to have rubbed some bloggers up the wrong way as it sounds soulless and mechanistic.

  2. Anon says:

    Surely by now you would have realised that Ecademy is soap. That all the hogwash that he has been feeding you all these years is advertising.
    I should have realised too that this is the PHD blog.
    Thomas Power is so shallow.

  3. I am the ghost blogger in question (what the BBC more correctly specified as “The igital Biographer”) and the article was written because Thomas Power contacted the BBC when they wrote an earlier story that discussed him, but did not mention his name. It’s quite the opposite of unflattering, other than the impression being given through carless editing of the article that Thomas’ personal correspondence is handled by others, which, of course, it is not.
    He contacted me before this story appeared, to ask if I objected to being revealed as the ghost writer, and whether I wanted to speak to the BBC. I had no objection, but asked if he realised that he would come in for some criticism as a result. As the title of the story says, I became the story.
    As it turned out, the BBC also wanted to interview me on Radio Wales, and paid me for the privilege of banging my own drum.
    Thomas writes his own blogs, and I help to realise some of them. It’s his reputation, his identity – and he trusts me to be able to write around the ideas he gives me. He is still the one to edit, amend, and place online.
    As I said on BBC Radio. “I let people have more time to enjoy the conversations that their blogs begin.” It’s not too crucial who does the typing – it’s who has the ideas that’s important. I simply help Thomas (and others) to be themselves more effectively and efficiently online.