Dave Chiu and Didier Hillhorst have developed an interesting concept of what they call Reputation Management Service. Interesting because it gives a glimpse of what tomorrow could bring but I also find it rather frightening (and not just because I never ever pay my bills on time). RentAThing enables negotiation for access by addressing risk.
A series of transaction mechanisms and interactions leverage trust and reputation to enable a variety of scenarios involving access to objects and services. Instead of silos of reputation, with various services, companies, and individuals developing isolated reputations, RentAThing provides a centralized means of managing and developing a single reputation: your reputation.
As you go through life, you acquire a reputation. Do you pay your bills on time? How do you treat library books? Do you forget to return money you've borrowed? This reputation affects your ability to gain access to things and services. In the future, with spimes and smart objects as actors in a world of ubiquitous information, your objects could be rented to anyone at any time. Gaining access to those objects could be as simple as having a great reputation.
I was extremely glad to see this effort. Kudos to both Dave Chiu and Didier Hillhorst (and to Regine) for educating people about this.
Can you say "Equifax"?
Reputation economy ...
Be sure to read great sci-fi, creative-commons-released novel "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" by Cory Doctorow.
He fore-envisions about Whuffie
"Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow's sci-fi novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. This future history book describes a post-scarcity economy: All the necessities (and most of the luxuries) of life are free for the taking. A person's current Whuffie is instantly viewable to anyone, as everybody has a brain-implant giving them an interface with the Net...."
Yes, "Down and Out..." is my favorite of Cory's novels.
Reputation capital is also part of puzzle for building sustainability. Put it together with product service systems and smart places, and you have an effective means of sharing a great many things in a more sustainable manner, without having to put up with bad actors.
Another fictional data-point:
Bruce Sterling's short story "Maneki Neko."
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I could see a reputation tracking system resulting in an underclass of poorly socialized jerks who have to pay more for everything . . . and chances are there would be a strong correlation to socioeconomic status.
what if the objects (spimes) had reputations too. Instead of just choosing a washing machine, you would choose the one that has the best reputation for getting clothes clean. Or a battering ram with a good reputation for knocking down citadels. a whole new level of social calculus...
To elaborate on what Greg said:
A spime tag could be like a VIN number. It could track what an individual durable item has been up to during its life. Also for the class of items.
Um, I could give an immediate example based on work experience, but I don't think I should go into that.
Combine spimes with the new IPv6 protocol (every square meter of the Earth could have 6.5 x 10^23 IP addresses) and you have the potential for some really interesting interactions.
The problem I'm grappling with now is how does this all get started? Sharing's not a common activity among us now, but what services propose (in part) are the dematerialization of objects...essentially proposing that sharing will take place. So what's the trigger for that? What makes sharing cool?
This has much of the flavour of "Open Humanity".
Which is a good thing...