Thursday, February 24, 2011

No recommendations?

What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Rachel Botsman, Roo RogersSince I spent the weekend reading What's Mine Is Yours, I am interested in the concept of generating an online reputation. From a collaborative consumption perspective this reputation would generate: how good a buyer/seller and loaner/borrower you are, all available in the online.

Using reputation, making an introduction or a referral is not new and recommendations were and are based on character as well as caste. Using an online community to make recommendations may allow us to circumvent the caste aspect of the recommendation--I can see and write a recommendation for my plumber, for example, a person who may not live in my neighborhood or have gone to college with me, but which my social network can access and decide whether or not to hire him, or let him couch surf in their house in London, a privilege not available to previous generations of plumbers.

There are systems in place to keep track of reputation: eBay's star system for buyers and sellers, is just one example. In the realm of business networking, LinkedIn has a reputation manager, the Recommendations field which allows users to write recommendations for people who are in their LinkedIn network. You can vet any recommendations written for you and hide them if you don't want them to be visible, revealing them again when you think they might help. But should an employer be able to stop employees from writing recommendations for their network connections on LinkedIn? Workforce Management has an article on when and why to craft a LinkedIn referral policy, but I think writing referrals, in the age of "collaborative consumption" is much bigger than the people we work and have worked with, and it may not be possible to forbid a person from writing a recommendation, considering the varied places where a recommendation can be input and our coming ability to search and sort individual reputation.

Rachel Botman's TED talk about collaborative consumption and what it might mean

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