I have been reading/listening to The Reputation Economy: How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset. I was introduced to this book by my good friend Ryan Rhoten on his “Brand New You” podcast.
The first page of the book sets the stage for a very scary future for most baby boomers.
The author writes:
REPUTATION IS POWER.
Your reputation defines who will talk to you and what they will do with you or for you. It determines whether your bank will lend you money to buy a house or a car; it determines whether your landlord will accept you as a tenant; it determines which employers will hire you or whether you can even get a job at all; it may determine the types of special offers and VIP experiences you receive; and it can even profoundly affect your dating prospects. Your reputation among insurers determines your ability to get coverage for your health, auto, home, or life. And your reputation with the government can even determine whether you are investigated for a crime. And it’s getting more powerful than ever. Thanks to rapid advances in digital technology, your reputation will become ubiquitous, permanent, and available worldwide—whether you like it or not. Everywhere you go, other people will be able to instantly access information about your reputation—with or without your knowledge or consent.
You probably realize that this has been happening for a long time. Now, you get your FICO score with your monthly credit card bill. Your FICO score will affect whether you are hired or not. There are also other ways you are being tracked and measured.
The reputation economy is enabled by cheap and nearly inexhaustible digital storage.
I learned how to program on punch cards and paper tape. A really BIG hard drive was 10 MB. Now, I get 1 TB Dropbox for $100 per year and I get a free 1 TB bundled with my business e-mail account from Google.
It is now more expensive to delete data than to add more storage.
What effect does this have on your digital reputation? Anything that can be recorded in digital format will never go away. Even if you delete a picture from Facebook or Instagram, it is still stored somewhere…forever.
The data being collected today may not have a current use, but that does not mean it will be that way forever.
In the reputation economy, your digital footprint is being recorded and will never disappear.
Previously, I published a guest post called, 5 Tips On How To Manage Your Digital Footprint, which discussed how to manage your online presence.
Whenever you are online, you are being watched.
I am dabbling with Google Ads in the right-hand column of this website. If you look at the ads, you will notice that it is probably from a website you recently visited. Every click of the mouse is being recorded. Google knows where you have been!
You already realize—at least I hope you do—that every credit card transaction is recorded and analyzed. Credit card companies are both looking for possible fraud and buying patterns. They sell this information to data bureaus where your purchasing habits are studied.
You are being watched and your behavior is being recorded.
Is all of this data being used and analyzed? Probably not…at least not yet. However, remember that we live in a world where it is more expensive to delete data than getting more storage.
DAMM – Decisions Almost Made by Machines
Your FICO score is a classic reputation score. You may be offered special deals based on your FICO score. You may never get a credit card offer based on your FICO score. You will never know.
This is a classic example of DAMM, or Decisions Almost Made by Machines.
We already know that if you have a keyword optimized LinkedIn profile you are more likely to get called by a recruiter. If recruiters do not call you, it might because your LinkedIn profile stinks. You just don’t know.
What about your Klout score? Klout measures your social media influence, or at least that is what they claim it is. Your Klout score is used in the hiring process for some jobs. I can pretty much guarantee that your Klout score will be looked at if you are applying for a sales or marketing position.
You might be thinking, “I don’t use social media! I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, so I have nothing to worry about.”
The author writes:
Take the example of one German newspaper that noted that two recent mass murderers had opted out of online social life and went on to suggest that anyone who avoided Facebook and other online tools might be suspicious. Yes, it’s an unfair inference, but it’s one that will probably be drawn whether you like it or not.
The Reputation Economy and the Future
I know a lot of you will find this pretty scary. You might have seen the movie Minority Report where crimes were predicted before they happened and people were prosecuted for crimes in the future.
You may think this is too futuristic, but the author writes:
With the growth of facial recognition, license plate scanners, and other technologies that you can’t really avoid (covering one’s license plate is generally illegal, and don’t try walking into a bank with your face covered for anything other than religious reasons), it’s safe to assume that anything you do on or offline is being stored and scored.
The book takes you on a journey on how you can drown out your bad reputation. Although you can never delete data that says less than flattering things about you (whether true or not), you can make it difficult to find.
Just as you are probably tracking and managing your credit score, you should also be managing your reputation score. By the way, my Klout Score is 62. Any score 63 and above puts you in the top 5% of influencers using social media.
Are you ready to manage your online reputation?
Does this scare the crap out of you?Marc Miller
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