I've always thought of open content / social technologies as
democratic, or democratizing. But maybe what we're seeing is the rise
of a new form of social structure: Reputocracy: governance by
reputation. There's only one rule to this regime: the more you invest,
the more your voice counts. Its a market based system, with a single
currency - reputation. This is a tricky currency, because it does not
obey conservation laws. Therefore, investment is calculated by the
amount of capital you have times the risk you take.
For example, if Jimmy Wales writes "I hate french fries" in an email to
a college friend, he's not really risking much. Hence that expression
does not go far as an investment. If he writes "I hate MicroSoft" in
his bio entry,
he's in for a hell of a ride. So anything Jimbo says on wikipedia will
have a huge impact. Never mind his formal role in the system. On the
other hand, I can say whatever I want where ever I want and few people
would give a hoot. I simply don't have that much reputation capital to begin with.
As with any economy, some investments pay off, others don't. And as
with money economy, if I invest in you and you come good, we're both
The other issue that came to mind is intellectual property. That's
always a pain in open-source / open-content environments. Also, always
a pain to figure out why people contribute where they can't capitalize.
Perhaps, in a an extremely transparent system, we're more concerned
about intellectual persona. Property is a funny thing with goods that
are expensive to produce and cheep to replicate. Ask the music
industry. But what if we can verify where a meme started? Then claiming
possession of someone else's ideas is just, uh, too embarrassing. Let's
say I post a great idea on my blog. Let's say you copy it, develop it,
and get a noble prize for it. Let's say you forgot to mention where you
first read it. All I need to do is post a link to digg. Now who's
Remember the rumors about Google getting into the OS business? Well, here's another way to look at is.
Google's just launched Docs. Add that to Calendar and Gmail (which has embedded contacts and Talk) and what do you get? Just about all you need, for most users, most of the time. So why would they ever bother with your machine? Who needs the headache of updating drivers and warding off spyware.