robertogreco + reputation + culture   9

Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability - The New York Times
"On a recent episode of the television series “South Park,” the character Cartman and other townspeople who are enthralled with Yelp, the app that lets customers rate and review restaurants, remind maître d’s and waiters that they will be posting reviews of their meals. These “Yelpers” threaten to give the eateries only one star out of five if they don’t please them and do exactly as they say. The restaurants feel that they have no choice but to comply with the Yelpers, who take advantage of their power by asking for free dishes and making suggestions on improving the lighting. The restaurant employees tolerate all this with increasing frustration and anger — at one point Yelp reviewers are even compared to the Islamic State group — before both parties finally arrive at a truce. Yet unknown to the Yelpers, the restaurants decide to get their revenge by contaminating the Yelpers’ plates with every bodily fluid imaginable.

The point of the episode is that today everyone thinks that they’re a professional critic (“Everyone relies on my Yelp reviews!”), even if they have no idea what they’re talking about. But it’s also a bleak commentary on what has become known as the “reputation economy.” In depicting the restaurants’ getting their revenge on the Yelpers, the episode touches on the fact that services today are also rating us, which raises a question: How will we deal with the way we present ourselves online and in social media, and how do individuals brand themselves in what is a widening corporate culture?

The idea that everybody thinks they’re specialists with voices that deserve to be heard has actually made everyone’s voice less meaningful. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to be sold to — to be branded, targeted and data-mined. But this is the logical endgame of the democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity, which insists that all of us must exist under the same umbrella of corporate regulation — a mandate that dictates how we should express ourselves and behave.

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their first corporation, Facebook, which has its own rules regarding expressions of opinion and sexuality. Facebook encouraged users to “like” things, and because it was a platform where many people branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, the impulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of their lives — a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And it was this burgeoning of the likability cult and the dreaded notion of “relatability” that ultimately reduced everyone to a kind of neutered clockwork orange, enslaved to the corporate status quo. To be accepted we have to follow an upbeat morality code where everything must be liked and everybody’s voice respected, and any person who has a negative opinion — a dislike — will be shut out of the conversation. Anyone who resists such groupthink is ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective are hurled at the supposed troll to the point that the original “offense” often seems negligible by comparison.

I’ve been rated and reviewed since I became a published author at the age of 21, so this environment only seems natural to me. A reputation emerged based on how many reviewers liked or didn’t like my book. That’s the way it goes — cool, I guess. I was liked as often as I was disliked, and that was OK because I didn’t get emotionally involved. Being reviewed negatively never changed the way I wrote or the topics I wanted to explore, no matter how offended some readers were by my descriptions of violence and sexuality. As a member of Generation X, rejecting, or more likely ignoring, the status quo came easily to me. One of my generation’s loudest anthems was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” whose chorus rang out: “I don’t give a damn about my reputation/ I’ve never been afraid of any deviation.” I was a target of corporate-think myself when the company that owned my publishing house decided it didn’t like the contents of a particular novel I had been contracted to write and refused to publish it on the grounds of “taste.” (I could have sued but another publisher who liked the book published it instead.) It was a scary moment for the arts — a conglomerate was deciding what should and should not be published and there were loud arguments and protests on both sides of the divide. But this was what the culture was about: People could have differing opinions and discuss them rationally. You could disagree and this was considered not only the norm but interesting as well. It was a debate. This was a time when you could be opinionated — and, yes, a questioning, reasonable critic — and not be considered a troll.

Now all of us are used to rating movies, restaurants, books, even doctors, and we give out mostly positive reviews because, really, who wants to look like a hater? But increasingly, services are also rating us. Companies in the sharing economy, like Uber and Airbnb, rate their customers and shun those who don’t make the grade. Opinions and criticisms flow in both directions, causing many people to worry about how they’re measuring up. Will the reputation economy put an end to the culture of shaming or will the bland corporate culture of protecting yourself by “liking” everything — of being falsely polite just to be accepted by the herd — grow stronger than ever? Giving more positive reviews to get one back? Instead of embracing the true contradictory nature of human beings, with all of their biases and imperfections, we continue to transform ourselves into virtuous robots. This in turn has led to the awful idea — and booming business — of reputation management, where a firm is hired to help shape a more likable, relatable You. Reputation management is about gaming the system. It’s a form of deception, an attempt to erase subjectivity and evaluation through intuition, for a price.

Ultimately, the reputation economy is about making money. It urges us to conform to the blandness of corporate culture and makes us react defensively by varnishing our imperfect self so we can sell and be sold things. Who wants to share a ride or a house or a doctor with someone who doesn’t have a good online reputation? The reputation economy depends on everyone maintaining a reverentially conservative, imminently practical attitude: Keep your mouth shut and your skirt long, be modest and don’t have an opinion. The reputation economy is yet another example of the blanding of culture, and yet the enforcing of groupthink has only increased anxiety and paranoia, because the people who embrace the reputation economy are, of course, the most scared. What happens if they lose what has become their most valuable asset? The embrace of the reputation economy is an ominous reminder of how economically desperate people are and that the only tools they have to raise themselves up the economic ladder are their sparklingly upbeat reputations — which only adds to their ceaseless worry over their need to be liked.

Empowerment doesn’t come from liking this or that thing, but from being true to our messy contradictory selves. There are limits to showcasing our most flattering assets because no matter how genuine and authentic we think we are, we’re still just manufacturing a construct, no matter how accurate it may be. What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual."
socialmedia  facebook  culture  2015  likeability  presentationofself  breteastonellis  online  internet  conservatism  via:rushtheiceberg  uber  relatability  genx  generationx  ratings  criticism  critics  yelp  society  authenticity  liking  likes  reputation  data  biases  imperfections  subjectivity  virtue  anxiety  sharingeconomy  paranoia  blandness  invention  risktaking  conformity  censorship  groupthink 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why we must remember to delete – and forget – in the digital age | Technology | The Guardian
"Mayer-Schönberger envisages that each digital camera could have a built-in process to select expiration dates for a photo. Before taking a picture the camera would send out "picture requests" to what he calls "permission devices" (about the size of a key fob that, perhaps, might dangle from our necks) that respond to the request with the owner's preferred expiration date. That date could range from zero to three years to 100 years from now (an option reserved for really memorable pictures).

He concedes expiration dates are no overall solution to the problem, but what he likes about them is that they make us think about the value of forgetting and, also, that they involve negotiation rather than simply imposing a technical solution to a technical problem. There are alternatives, such as turning your back on the digital age. "I don't like digital abstinence. I want us to embrace participation in digital culture and global networks. Just not at any cost.""
jonathanzittrain  reputationbankruptcy  reputation  streetview  self-censorship  society  foucault  panopticon  jeremybentham  hgwells  worldbrain  expirationdates  expiration  data  viktormayer-schönberger  stuartjeffriess  time  forgetting  2011  facebook  flickr  google  drop.io  deleting  delete  information  culture  technology  psychology  socialmedia  privacy  memory  michelfoucault 
september 2012 by robertogreco
cnewmark: Trust and reputation systems: redistributing power and influence
"In real life, personal networks are pretty small, maybe in the hundreds. Mass media plays a role in shaping reputation for a small number of people, including celebrities and politicians. A very small number of people have influence in this environment.

* people tend to work with each other
* people are normally trustworthy
* despite their large media footprint, there aren't many bad guys out there
* message spreads quickly
* message is persistent, it's there forever
* connectivity is increasingly pervasive
* people are finding that reputation and recommendation systems can be used to drive a lot of profit.

Okay, so we want to be able to see who we might be able to trust, maybe by seeing some explicit measurement, or maybe something implicit, like seeing their history, and who trusts them."
via:hrheingold  media  network  reputation  networking  networks  trust  twitter  blogging  business  community  craignewmark  craigslist  internet  influence  socialnetworking  socialmedia  behavior  culture  future  identity  communication  making  social 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Importance of Managing Your Online Reputation « emergent by design
"Last week during #journchat, I saw a reference to a post titled Does Your Twitter Handle Belong on Your Resume? The author is a PR college student, and the conversation around the post is mainly tactical, but the bigger picture surrounding our online identities is one I’ve been wanting to address for some time, so this gives me the opportunity. I’ll briefly cover some basic points about the nature of online space, but then I want to dig into the opportunities that are available in a networked culture."
digitalcitizenship  digitalfootprint  socialnetworks  socialnetworking  influence  internetsafety  socialmedia  identity  culture  reputation  2010  branding  community  footprint  facebook  social  twitter  networks  education  online  personalbranding  web  google  web2.0 
march 2010 by robertogreco
ongoing · After Branding
So much great advice. I'm highlighting this one because I was just warning a friend about the same a few days ago. "8. Do not invest any time or money with anyone whose title, or company name, includes the words “Search Engine” or the abbreviations “SEO” or “SEM”. While one hears that there are a few honest souls out there, lots are just looking for sheep to fleece; don’t be one.
design  culture  homepage  socialnetworking  identity  networking  reputation  presence  business  web  webdev  blogging  marketing  spelling  personal-branding  timbray  internet  branding  seo  sem  flash  glvo  via:cburell  webdesign 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Joho the Blog » Transparency is the new objectivity
"objectivity is discredited these days as anything but an aspiration...[one that] is looking pretty sketchy. The problem with objectivity is that it tries to show what the world looks like from no particular point of view...like wondering what something looks like in the dark...Transparency prospers in a linked medium, for you can literally see the connections between the final draft’s claims & the ideas that informed it...transparency subsumes objectivity. Anyone who claims objectivity should be willing to back that assertion up by letting us look at sources, disagreements & the personal assumptions & values supposedly bracketed out of the report. Objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. & then foolishness. Why should we trust what one person — with the best of intentions — insists is true when we instead could have a web of evidence, ideas & argument?...Objectivity is a trust mechanism you rely on when your medium can’t do links. Now our medium can."

[also at: http://www.everythingismiscellaneous.com/2009/07/19/transparency-is-the-new-objectivity/ ]
davidweinberger  politics  journalism  blogs  objectivity  transparency  trust  ethics  information  media  authority  reputation  credibility  newspapers  knowledge  news  blogging  bias  epistemology  2009  internet  philosophy  culture 
july 2009 by robertogreco
After a Facebook Scandal, Horace Mann Is Forced to Ask What Values It Should Teach -- New York Magazine
"students created Facebook pages viciously attacking teacher...wealthy parents on school board defended them,...[school] forced to confront series of questions: Is Facebook page private, like diary? Is big money distorting private-school education?"
culture  education  society  school  facebook  socialnetworking  ethics  politics  money  socialnetworks  reputation  privacy  students  power  schools 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Design Observer: What's in a name?
"If one is willing to expound, exclaim, or critique it should be done under a real name and with links to a valid email or website address. If transparency on the web is the new black, then there should be no secrets."
blogs  identity  commenting  anonymity  internet  web  culture  online  etiquette  reputation  names  naming 
december 2007 by robertogreco
Wired News: Delete Your Bad Web Rep
"A new startup, ReputationDefender, will act on your behalf by contacting data hosting services and requesting the removal of any materials that threaten your good social standing."
culture  photo  life  reputation  socialnetworks  society  online  internet  web  work 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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