The development of reputation systems will be a central aspect of the economy and society this decade. While we are still early in the overall process of building robust systems that are themselves trustworthy, the pace of development is accelerating.
Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) is putting a lot of thought into the issue. His recent post Trust and reputation systems: redistributing power and influence, begins:
People use social networking tools to figure out who they can trust and rely on for decision making. By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power. That is, peer networks will confer legitimacy on people emerging from the grassroots.
The ultimate issue for Craig is how these systems are developed:
I think the solution lies in a network of trust and reputation systems. We’re seeing the evolution of a number of different ways of measuring trust, which reflects a human reality; different people think of trust in different ways.
We need to be able to move around the currency of trust, whatever that turns out to be, like we move money from one bank to another. That suggests the need for interchange standards, and ethical standards that require the release of that information when requested.
Craig expanded on these ideas in an interview for GigaOm, below.