The Future of Reputation, gossip, rumor and privacy on the internet Daniel J. Solove

Review by Tony Fish, 2008

Overall a good book, but this is a speed read.  For me personally well balanced and good issues raised.  Downside too US centric, too much about the law and too little about the complex inter-relationships.

Overall the book left me with a number of questions the most important one being “at what point does reporting on (shamming) the norm breakers make it acceptable that more people will break the norm, seeing the shame as tolerable to gain the benefit.”

The basic premises (which I agree with which is why I read it) is that the Internet model provides a broadcast, available and permanent record.  The ability to forget, forgive, ignore, wash away, remove or bury has gone. 

Throughout the book I picked up five core themes

            Change (why this is an important topic)

Judgements (where and how is reputation created)

            Trust (the components of reputation)

            Context (how reputation can be destroyed and responses)

            Law (the balances and checks for democracy)

Solove makes some good points about how to move forward and as these are the key values of the book, I’ll leave you to buy it and read them.  However his middle ground approach does not really encompass Scott McNealy views on privacy as of “get over it”

I would like to have seen developed a model about the complex inter-working relationships between the creation of norms, culture, shaming, correction, law and rights (including free speech)

It made me think however how much I enjoy story telling.  Imagine that great wheeze that you recall how you climbed Everest in bare foot with your best mate after a good night out.  In truth this was something you read as you were camping in the Alps.  Today you can tell the story, which indeed improves with time and becomes more embellished ( a true story).  However, someone else will soon be able to look on the Web and see that it was not you and there is no truth in your story.  Will this indelible web world be the end of great story telling?  However, I hope my mind map helps present the scope of the book, what it does not show is the over-emphasis on law that is prevalent in the book.