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What It Takes To Have A Real Name

There's a short editorial in The New York Times today about Amazon's Real Names program, by which reviewers are encouraged to attach their "real-world identity" to the scathing critiques and effusive endorsements they write of books and other random junk you can buy online. (Wow, some of these people put a lot of effort into being rated amongst Amazon's Top Reviewers!) The whole "real name" thing's a reaction to last February's accidental revelation that authors were favorably reviewing their own books and mercilessly slamming their enemies'. Amazon's come up with a pretty cool system for the establishment of reputation in the community of that online marketplace -- ranking products and affiliate vendors in addition to reviewers. (Others have too, of course: Epinions, eBay....) But the NYT editorial (offhandedly) makes an good point about the connection of modern identity to credit cards, purchasing power, and purchase history. (You need to have a credit card registered with Amazon.com or a "reasonable purchase history" to get a real name.) We already use credit cards to establish our reputations in purchase transactions -- our trustworthiness as paying customers. So it's really no surprise that -- in the marketplace -- our reputations as individuals with trustworthy opinions might be tied to that same system of credentials. Maybe the public libraries should institute a parallel system for those folks who might have helpful critiques of books they didn't buy.

August 3, 2004 in The Social Life of Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Worship My iPod

I probably shouldn't link to his column again so soon, but I love it when Mark Morford writes about technology. And you've got to share these things.

July 23, 2004 in The Social Life of Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Puppy Love Before Caller ID

Mark Morford's column on SF Gate -- which is always brilliant and always leaves me laughing so hard I'm crying -- today celebrates the joy of the crank call and mourns its death at the hands of Caller ID and *69 and Call Screening.

May 19, 2004 in The Social Life of Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tourist Gaze

Luc Sante, who teaches the history of photography at Bard College, has a great op-ed piece in today's New York Times under the title Tourists and Torturers. In it he reflects on the photographs from Abu Ghraib -- on the role of new technologies (the digital camera and the Internet) in their existence and rapid, widespread distribution, and, more importantly, on the photographic traditions to which the images themselves belong: souvenirs from early-20th-century lynchings of African-Americans and trophy shots from photo safaris.

May 11, 2004 in The Social Life of Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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Updated: May 8, 2004
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