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What if you could declare online reputation bankruptcy?

Molly Wood Sep 13, 2010
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The web is becoming ever more interactive. And you’re expected to constantly feeding it information about yourself and your opinions. You report your location on Foursquare, you update your status (and/or location too) on Facebook, you review restaurants and books. And all along the way it’s like we’re completing these sketches of ourselves and each other. We each have an ever-thickening dossier of information attached to who we are.

Our guest, Jonathan Zittrain, is co-founder and co-director of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He sees this trend only continuing. What if you could get a big discount for car insurance but with the stipulation that you had to agree to rate other drivers’ driving ability AND agree to let them rate yours? And then your premium would be adjusted based on how other people think you’re doing out on the road? Sure, it would be creepy but maybe it’s a trade off you’d be willing to make in exchange for lower rates and safer roads.

But Zittrain wonders if we shouldn’t be able to switch it all off and declare what he calls reputation bankruptcy. A chance to erase ourselves from our digital trail and start over. Hit the reset button. We discuss the web that knows too much and how one might go about shutting it off.

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