Books, Joshua Klein

Reputation Economics : Book Review

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Why who you know is worth more than what you have

Joshua Klein, 2013


An interesting idea, both scary and good. The idea that our personal reputation impacts on how other people do business with us. Naturally in 2014, our personal reputation is already closely tied up with our online footprint, and perceived reputation.

Before getting too web 3.0 on this concept, it is useful to consider that perhaps human interactions have now come full circle. Way back when, pre the web, pre mass advertising, back to our hunting and gathering days, our reputation was what we had. In our village, in our tribe, personal standing was everything. In some tribes the ultimate punishment used to be banishment and withdrawal of human interaction, so important was it to maintain our reputation.

Naturally we can all begin to think of flaws in how people are currently perceived, in terms of inflated online reputations. We know that it is possible to buy twitter followers, facebook likes, youtube video likes, that doing something notorious will also push up your klout score. Klein is aware of this, and devotes some space to discussing the inherent risks of solely relying on machines to create an assessment of our credibility and reputation.

In time, and perhaps already Klout’s current algorithm for ranking your online influence will either be improved or replaced by something more accurate.  Naturally any program which spits out Justin Bieber as the most significant digital influencer, still needs some work.

At the same time Klein illustrates that a more personalised, reputational based economy is emerging. We can already see this happening. If you are looking for a speaker, trainer, or informed quote you will look to people with large numbers of linkedIn connections, twitter followers, or facebook followers, and or a large number of blog posts. These are all ways in which people have had the opportunity to grow and show their reputation (or not) in their chosen field.

As with Klout’s glitches, the whole area of validating and proving ‘reputation’, is an ongoing process. However it does offer great opportunities for a much wider flatter playing field for new aspiring entrants. If your content and product is good enough, and other people can see this, eg github, stackoverflow, then you are the person to go to.

Klein also points out that with large numbers of people coming online in Africa, Asia, and other non Western countries, with a long history of doing business based upon reputation based validation, this could bring a massive change in terms of how the world interacts and does business.

For more information on Joshua Klein see

Twitter @joshuaklein

Book’s website

Facebook page







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