Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Thoughts on Reviews and Reputations...

I fell down another familiar rabbit hole this week. This time about user generated reviews and the plight of managing their sources. I've got a call this afternoon that might change the perspective I'm about to share but here's the thought as it stands...

It occurs to me that one of the most bustling groups of content generators are activists. As review writers are rarely called upon to disclose their associations or personal interests, it would be hard for say, a golf course operator or an SUV manufacturer to control or accurately source the motivation behind negative reviews written by an environmentalist.

There are currently 500 groups listed under "activists" within Facebook (that's only one applicable search term). A group against animal cruelty has 2,900 members and various global warming groups have well over 2,000 in aggregate.

With all the solutions under development in this space, I have not come across one that can detect personal views on issues relating to religious or ethical belief systems. Although Facebook profiles often disclose semi-accurate user details of this nature, in the main, it will forever be a challenge to determine these influencing factors. Unless of course, the reputation tracking solutions are able to tap into Facebook and other social networks' group level membership details. However, if this becomes a reality, privacy concerns may lead to quick attrition within those groups. Anonymity is a key trait to a true activist.

To date, I believe that reputation management solutions cover fairly one dimensional user statistics like age, sex, social network memberships and some vague activity data. I wonder (out loud) if there are any solutions being developed that have a behavioral component to them?

The promise of reviews are reminding me more and more of one of my favourite movies, "The Gods must Be Crazy". Everyone seems to be exercising their own definitions of their true purpose and potential while ironically, wreaking havoc on community.

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