The new currency is trust and reputation, but we need better tools


Somebody seems to have played Memeorandum and Scoble links to the article saying:

Pete Cashmore says that humans are better, because they can’t be gamed. I say BS!!! We are gamed regularly and in many ways more transparently than an algorithm can be (an algorithm is just more consistent).

The minute I read “humans are better, because they can’t be gamed.” I thought of Amazon Turk – their marketing did work for the “humans can do it better” line. But back to the playing game.

Pete writes as a conclusion:

Either way, I don’t believe that algorithms can survive in their current form. Human judgement isn’t infallible, but it’s the best thing we’ve got.

Believing something can’t be done is a very good way to ensure that you stop thinking about ways to get it done.

It is all the same, over and over again, isn’t it? We are talking about trust and ways to reflect our relationship with the world and companies come and take this and try to make a product out of it. Which gets dissed by the net because it is just one company making money and trying to tie you into their service. Which we will not do, because we are aware of the risks of exposing too much of our data into one system and we don’t like that.

With Usenet II there had been the thought of having sound sites; if one of your peers did bad tricks, it reflected on you. It did not take off (one could say fail), but perhaps now the critical mass is reached where we want to be sure that a) you get the bad guys and b) the person writing this article is really Nicole Simon. Without having it tied into a closed system. And make sure to track down the bad guys.

Which always leaves me wondering – there have been so many technologies out there working, why don’t we combine them? Learn from them? The PGP trust principle and its decentralized way of organizing. Isn’t that what we want? Being able to submit our keys when we want to, but not need to? Making sure one or many people can use my content because I have their public key – which I often can get from their website?

Let me sign a post (without the rubbish of the signature really appearing on the post) which you can check against my public key on the URL I am giving you. The key is periodically checked once a month and if not still there, the comments vanishes?

Same goes with encrypted RSS-Feeds. You can’t have them until you manage to have a working decryption on the other side. Which does not work because then people can’t use services like bloglines which means they will not use it at all. If you use a service like bloglines with one feed address (even with a hidden one) your feed is exposed to the world. In fact, it is enough that somebody uses once a preview on your feed address to have other sites grab it and republish it. Why not tie it into my browser so the decryption will take place on my side and the transported signal is encrypted but there for everybody to read?

Yes, those systems will always be played, and we learn from it. Because this is what a game is about: Getting better at it. And stay responsible and trustworthy at the same time. It will pay off in the long run. And in case somebody wants to trick something like Memeorandum: Publishing it afterwards that they just did it to trick the system has another backlash: It leaves a cheap taste in my mouth thinking about the persons listed.

As for downsides, of course there are downsides to such ideas like mine above: They can be abused. These fouls are part of game too. While human decisions will give you something which works socially, we do have too many decisions to make to just leave it up to humans. We need to tie in our preferences into the system to let it datamine it. Which is creepy at the same time because when there is data, there will be people abusing it.

Which we will not solve by closing our eyes but dealing with it. People play the system? It has to be too expensive for them to do so. Companies and goverments abuse the data? It has to be too expensive for them to do so. If we don’t try to deal with them, we will never get that society science fichtion has promised us for a long time. Step by step, person by person.

Yes, I am a naive dreamer. I do start every day believing that humans are intelligent, clever beings. You need something like this in your heart, otherwise you are not interested in one day finally reaching this state of society. Which does not mean that I am not aware of all the ‘bad’ around me. Yes it is there. But it is not my goal to give in to them and let them succeed.

As I like to say: This is a game which is played with two sides. You don’t need to surrender, is is your duty to play the game better than the rest.

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2 Responses to “The new currency is trust and reputation, but we need better tools”

  1. “Believing something can’t be done is a very good way to ensure that you stop thinking about ways to get it done. ”

    Nicole, you say this in response to the quote “Either way, I don’t believe that algorithms can survive in their current form”. I’m still leaving open the option of simply improving the algorithms – I’m certainly not saying we should suddenly give up on algorithms all together. And I don’t remember saying “humans can’t be gamed”, but if I did (maybe in a previous post?) I’ll cross it out because it’s wrong.

    I like your suggestions on trust, reputation and encrypted RSS-Feeds. And no – we certainly shouldn’t give up on the “game” – but we do need to continually improve if we’re to keep up.

  2. Juanita says:

    HMMM Nicole i think that you need to open your mind about the currency more. And Pete is right humans cannot be gamed. what kind of sick thing is that??? i want to say diddo on everything that pete has said and i totally got his back.