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settling in to the reputation economy
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the retail B2C aspect of the information economy is dying.
the reputation economy is rising to take its place.
this is going to be one of the pivotal meta-trends of the next several years and it is already well underway. it’s been taking root for years and like many such exponentially driven processes of social contagion, it’s “little by little then all at once” as that which seemed subtle suddenly comes to raucous and unmistakable bloom.
and we are about to see the full flower of this phenomenon.
but what does that mean?
the 90’s ushered in a radical change in information. that which was once hard to access and hard to share become so plentiful and cheap that it has now flipped over into “hard to avoid” and “hard to assess.”
in 1990, real time news and stock prices and commentary were the province of a very select few. now it’s baseline expectation for people on budget airline flights.
that which was once the currency of a small elite is now in ubiquitous circulation. this has dramatically changed the manner in which it is not only consumed, but provided.
the sheer volume of information has become overwhelming, and its stridence and pandering qualities have been accentuated as 10,000 memes fight for each eyeball that not so long ago had only 3 or 4 to choose from.
not only does this make keeping up with it near impossible, it also means that the power to control and slant it has become a sort of commanding heights in this new economy:
control what people see and you can control what they believe. shape the message, shape the society.
and not everyone in this ecosystem has your best interests at heart.
this gave rise to a vast public private partnership of media and government, an ugly and unconstitutional alliance of both convenience and need arising from both exigency and opportunity.
the information age has been death for big media.
ratings and revenues have collapsed as oligopoly eroded and information broke free.
this freedom posed a clear and present danger to government (especially bureaucratic permanent government) narrative and control and so the two were forced together in a sort of “you scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours” codependency of access, promotion, censorship, and message hegemony. everyone from media to educational institutions and crony corporatist business interests has fawningly fallen in line with what can only be described as lockstep systems of legal plunder underpinned by invented ethics to defend and glorify them.
but this has broken the information economy and the falsehoods, manipulation, and egregious thumbs upon the scales of the public agora have grown so blatant that the center is shifting and this is about to gather the momentum that will make it decisive.
no one trusts this “information” anymore. the media lies. the government lies. the technology companies lie.
and that truth is plain.
they are still unearthing new forms of embedded censorship on twitter even now. it’s the literal core of the software and embedded at who knows how many levels. the whole system appears to have been built not so much for information sharing as for informational suppression. facebook is an an engine of ideological manipulation. google buries search results and amplifies others for ideological and political ends.
this is not distortion, manipulation has become the signal. and you can see why. this passel of pernicious plunderers will not be able to withstand even rudimentary scrutiny. they are in deep, deep trouble if information gets free. and they know it.
and this is why they will use every lever within their power from draconian EU regulations to claims of misinformation and manipulation projected upon others to mask their own malfeasance to the vilification of the very change that might supplant their systems of control. make no mistake: this sudden surge of “AI fear” is not a coincidence.
this is planned and planful.
and it’s working. (or, at least, some purported polls are being trotted out to claim that it is.) but can these polls be trusted? are they accurate or fair? or are they just another failure of the information economy as it devolves to something more akin to propaganda?
it’s hard to know. this is the struggle of the hall of mirrors created by the dissolution of trust in information. it all becomes a black box and past a certain point, you simply cannot take anything at face value and one must begin to always assess the intent of the stakeholders speaking because one thing is manifestly clear:
this is exactly what those who have the most to lose would like to have you believe about a technology that could demolish their dominance and grant vast new vistas of access to unfettered information and perhaps more important knowledge extraction to the public.
this breaks the search engine monopoly on determining “what the internet is.” today, if google decides you do not exist, you vanish. if they decide you are top of the pile, you are. but AI driven systems change this and (if allowed to function unfettered) will make access to “what is” a truly general and democratized phenomenon.
no wonder they want to make you leery of it.
it stands to gut them like trout.
this democratization of knowledge generation poses an existential threat to their current regimes and so they must fight its emergence tooth and claw.
but this is not safety.
this is censorship.
the goal is to scare the demos into demanding “regulation” that will be used to once more establish the regimes of suppression upon which the modern public private plunder machine sets its foundations. they want to be in charge of what you can know and what information may spread.
and they are getting increasingly desperate because the worm here is turning, memes and messages are spreading in manners they do not like, and this is not only destroying the totalitarian power of their cultures of cancellation but inverting them. “experts” are being annihilated by “amateurs” and those who seek to dictate are finding themselves dictated to instead.
and this is a very good thing.
we the people have become “we the market” and are escaping the baleful glare of the gaslights with which so many have for so long been blinded. we are coming once more to know our own minds through the simple expedient of losing our fear to speak and realizing the the pervasive puppetshow of purported public opinion was a hoax, a fugazi fellowship of false narrative that never actually existed. and this is killing the B2C information economy because none of the folks who have firehosed phony zeitgeist at an unsuspecting public are trusted anymore.
now it’s about reputation.
and that changes everything.
“the internet remembers” is a powerful concept. it creates a real track record. if you want to play out here in the modern square, you need to speak, take views, add information. but doing so generates receipts and we can go back and look at how everyone did. it’s not like the bad old days where you can just flip sides and play the “shaggy defense” of “wasn’t me” who said that. now when you change jerseys, everyone knows. even when you try to hide it. the old tricks do not work with this new dog.
now imagine how much easier uncensored AI would make assessing such things. instant on track records for everyone.
that will be seismic.
once, what you said 5 years ago was forgotten. but no longer. not even when you delete the tweets. the internet remembers. and reputation is all.
the simple fact is that information has become overly prolific. it has become tinsel. and AI is in the process of making this 1000 times worse by making the cost of producing content asymptotically indistinguishable from 0.
as this intersects with manipulation, it drops the value of most kinds of information to naught and quite possibly into the negatives. all the value has moved to interpretation and curation.
but AI is also the solution to this as it can cut through the noise and find signal.
this is why they so desperately want to control it: if you are allowed access to the vast engines of interpretive power, what might you learn? what might you create? perhaps most important, who might you cut out of the value chain?
AI poses dire threats to the credentialed classes. lawyers, doctors, lower level and possibly soon higher level coders. lots of people with expensive educations, credentials and licensure that grants guild privilege (and assures guild level profit protection) and that stymies innovation and affordable access are at massive schumpeterian risk.
and these people are connected.
they will use the machinery of government and media to fight the encroachment that threatens their fiefdoms and frees the rest of us.
and this is a fight we must make sure they lose.
and it’s why we must resist the calls to “regulate AI” and instead demand that it be free.
those telling you it must not be are the same ones telling you that they must get to decide what is and is not “misinformation” while being the largest purveyors of falsehood on earth.
do you really want another round of that?
what could constitute a worse choice than leaping from the frying pan of mistrust of technology companies into the fire of government regulation?
you seriously want to place your faith in them?
this battle to free information must be waged not just in the political realm but in the personal.
consumer sovereignty is a decisive force and we the people may vote with these, our wallets and in so doing we may bring this to heel.
we are nothing like powerless, we are only being gaslit into thinking that we are.
and as we find our footing and seek to support those who earn our trust and shun those who violate it, we have flipped cancel culture upon its misbegotten head.
it was not long ago that companies could have brazened out a stunt like this and shamed the public into tacit if not overt acceptance.
but no more.
they got hit where it hurts and the top beer brand in america was hamstrung because the people running it lost their reputation.
and now they are floundering and scrambling and want a mulligan to “what you’ve always loved about us,” but it’s not that easy, is it?
everyone remembers. does anyone believe this is sincere as opposed to reactive? do you trust them again? is the non-apology apology tour compelling?
because i will bet they never get this back.
because they do not understand.
they’re cooked because they do not understand reputation. they still want to manipulate you using clumsy tools.
it’s just sad.
one of my interesting discoveries in the last couple years is that the conventional wisdom on much of PR is wrong. it does not stand up in practice.
you should never apologize for doing what you feel was right or justified. that just gets you pilloried and proves you craven and unprincipled. being shamed into repudiating your own ethics or belief is the worst of all worlds. who could respect such a person? they have no morals, just malleable allegiance driven by fear. they have been rendered a cipher, an irrelevance.
on the other hand, when you make a mistake and realize it, you should step up and proactively say so and explain what you misapprehended and what changed your mind. i’ve blown it on data. no one bats 1.000. folks told me “ignore it. let it fade. people will forget.” instead, i chose to trust you. i placed faith in your discernment, fairness, and understanding. and when i did, a funny thing happened: instead of the “ha, see that cat doesn’t know what he’s saying!” i got comments sections full of “thank you.” and “this is why we’ll keep trusting you.”
funny how that works. why, it’s almost as if trust is a two way street…
it’s kind of obvious once you step back and look at it. no one claiming to be infallible is trustworthy. that’s impossible. worse, it’s a self-defeating demand. if you require it, you’re placing yourself in the hands of the most malicious sort of people.
this is what makes the reputation economy hum. not projected perfection: reality. plausibility. humility. principle. honor. honesty.
strive for truth and even when you fail, people will trust you. a good batting average presented in good faith vastly trumps a perfect one presented in falsity.
people are sick and tired of being lied to, spun, and manipulated.
the age of honesty and honor is coming.
because we will make it so.
vote with your dollars and vote with your attention.
support those who earn your trust and who trust you in return. spurn those taking you for granted or for fools or for dupes.
consumer sovereignty is the tool by which societal sovereignty may be retaken.
this will be irrepressible and irresistible.
and this is going to be fun.
society was always ours and not theirs.
remember that, and the rest will follow.