Shelly Alcorn invited me and Kiki L’Italien to talk on a Google Hangout for Association Forecast about this video of a TED talk by Rachel Botsman. I had technical difficulties and unfortunately couldn’t be in the conversation, but I at least wanted to post the two videos and see what your thoughts are on the reputation economy. [MORE in this great Forbes article.]
The basic jist is that in the new digital sharing economy, where hundreds of sites are cropping up that allow people to barter for different products and services by “matching wants with haves”, the more you can use these sites the more trust you build which then could translate to other sites, not just the one you started out with. Botsman says, related to the example of stackoverflow, a site for programmers to share expertise, that “reputation accumulated in one place has value elsewhere than just in that place.” The power of technology “builds trust between strangers” across the web. Some examples of such sites:
Here’s Shelly and Kiki discussing the video.
I have to say, the most interesting piece of this conversation to me is Kiki’s joke about meeting planners freaking out when we all start going to AirBnB to find rooms so we can get out of the scam that is the room block during conferences. I actually see this economy as extremely liberating for us, away from those institutions (like associations) who try and corral us into paying (in time, money, or energy) for things that are much better done without them. This reputation economy is fundamentally decentralizing. Smart associations are those that are not trying to control the engagement activities of their members. I love the idea of the association as marketplace where members barter for learning new skills. Does that happen already? Sure, but not necessarily purposefully with support by the organization’s systems.
So that’s the “sharing” part. As for the reputation and trust part? I think we trust each other (as members) far more than we’ll ever trust the association. Am I being a Debbie Downer? maybe – but all of these exciting things are happening and I just see the old traditional association model being left in the dust. Shelly says “members want to feel trusted and respected, want to be cared about, and if we gave them the opportunity to engage online directly… to do something that someone can comment on.” That feels very centralized to me. I don’t think any members are waiting around for the association to do anything. They’re just getting on with building their own digital reputations, and the association’s role is just a tiny piece of that, if it’s a piece of that at all.