I recently read an interesting blog post by Aaron @Biebert entitled “King Klout and Why Its Power Makes Me Nervous” which got me thinking about influence scores from a slightly different perspective. Now I am not a huge fan of the concept of influence scores period ( see one of my earlier blog posts entitled “We don’t need Influence Scores, we need flexible People Recommendation Systems!” ), however I accept the fact that people like simple concepts by which to measure themselves. In the real-world folks might use a physical symbol like a sports car, however on the Internet we need something virtual.
What that should be is another question, but for better or worse what we have today is this notion of influence scores. We have #klout with their “Klout Score”, #Peerindex with their “Index Value” and #EmpireAvenue with their “Share Price”. All using different algorithms and approaches.
In Aaron’s blog post he raised the very reasonable concern with allowing any one company to have such power over people (should Klout become the dominant scoring engine for the Social Web). So I guess the question we must all ask ourselves is “Do we feel comfortable with this situation?” From my side I am never a huge fan of monopolies of any description (call it my European pseudo-socialist viewpoint) and like the idea of an eco-system of rating organizations that ensure a fair and balanced perspective of what they are measuring … in this case people.
So … to my question… Is what we really need an ecosystem of Rating Agencies? Much like we don’t want to just rely on the S&P for their rating recommendation (as per our recent hickup on the stock market), why would we want to rely on just one influence scoring organization.
In addition, and maybe this is even more interesting (particularly for someone who questions the concept of influence scores in the first place), these rating agencies could have completely different aspects that they measure so that we could in fact generate an aggregate number that combines a more diverse set of measurements. For example; maybe one is measuring my expertise (looking at a broad cross-section of data from papers published, patents submitted, citations, conferences attended, etc.), another looks at social media influence, another looks at traditional influence (citations, conferences, …), one looks at my “emotional bank balance” (for those fans of the 7 habits), and each of these leveraging different data, algorithms, perhaps manual voting, etc.
In that new world, I not only get much richer data about a person which is likely to have less risk of being biased to any algorithm or data set, but I also get the single number that people seem to like … your “Social Rating” ala S&P, Fitch, or Moodys.
Oh well, another mad idea perhaps. But a big thanks to Aaron @Biebert for getting me thinking :-)