Sessions Top Ten Insights – Six Reputations Are Not Portable

There was a lot of talk at Sessions about trust. The word appears 33 times in the transcript. Jeff Jarvis mentioned it 11 times himself. Here, Jeff makes the point that value is shifting from content to trust.


“And so the content isn’t what’s valuable. It’s the trust and relationship that’s valuable, and that to me, in a post scarcity — what the internet does is it takes away scarcity in terms of both content and distribution, and it changes the value essentially to trust. So the friction is still there. The friction isn’t “I own the content and you don’t.” The friction is, “You’re going to keep good content? Okay, then let’s talk.” It’s a different friction, a different value, but that’s essentially what we’re going towards…..So relationships and trust becomes a new structure.

This led to a discussion of how trust is created on the web, which in turn led to a discussion about eBay’s rating systems one of the largest and most successful systems created to engender trust on the web. If value is shifting to trust then a generalized reputation system could theoretically become the organizing principle behind a large and diverse set of web services. But, Mary Hodder squelched this thread with an important insight about reputations – they are not portable.


“you can pull data for reputation from Ebay…. but the thing about the difference between what Tim was talking about, maps, and Ebay’s reputation information is that the mapping data makes sense when you pull it out of the system, whereas the reputation data, because Ebay is so skewed, it’s such a bizarre social environment, everybody is under tremendous pressure to make this sort of, you know, A+++ best sale I’ve ever had, which, I mean, would only exist if the guy who was selling you the thing drove me the item from Kansas or something, otherwise it’s just probably B+. [So]… the reputation information is perfect or it’s terrible, and when you pull it out of that system … it doesn’t match up. It doesn’t translate with other walled garden reputations”

It turns out that every web service defines trust differently, uses it differently and polices it differently, so it may be difficult if not impossible to create a reputation system that is both general and useful.