Respect your authority

Posted: November 16th, 2009 | Author: azeem | Filed under: Corporate, Product | 1 Comment »

Clay wrote compellingly about the notion of ‘algorithmic authority’, the idea that:

it takes in material from multiple sources, which sources themselves are not universally vetted for their trustworthiness, and it combines those sources in a way that doesn’t rely on any human manager to sign off on the results before they are published.

Some form of algorithmic authority or third party-authority measures is increasingly vital online. When networks become to big for any peer connecting to them to have first hand knowledge of the person they are transacting with (or taking information from).

This is why Dun & Bradstreet exists. Or Moody’s. Or S&P. Or the Morngingstar Equity Analyst ratings. It is what made Google’s PageRank work.

However, in the world if digital networks we have had to rely on rough proxies. Perhaps what someone says on Linked In; or more likely who they know on LinkedIn; or by doing a big of Google stalking. In all these cases, the onus was on you–the person doing the due diligence. And the cost was high: one could hardly expect to spend 90 seconds to filter everyone person you come across on a twitter stream.

Equally: someone may have a great profile on LinkedIn and have demonstrable authority or expertise on some subjects, but unproven knowledge in other areas. Or worse, be behind the curve in a particular area.

Our view is that now, more than ever, we need authority rankings. We all connect with content creators and curators well in excess of our Dunbar number. We click on links retweeted from 3 or 4 degrees. We exchange messages with people whose email address we don’t even know. We expend time (or perhaps derive secret pleasure) from a flow of data and observations.

However, authority rankings need to reflect that people’s authority may be highly localised. Authority on Apple does not necessarily translate to authority on Orange. Authority may be positive and negative.

They also need to recognise that those who have the most active digital footprints are not necessarily ‘authoritative’–they may be amplifiers or distributors, they may just be echo chambers.

Authority rankings need to shift in real-time or close to it, as one’s digital footprint builds. We need to tell who was just lucky and who is actually genuinely ahead of the curve.

Viewsflow is building an authority model for business expertise and opinion on digital networks to help you understand who you should trust and on what subjects.

And, as we know that authority no-longer comes from the single source (the editorial team at the WSJ, for example), we also hope to provide authority-driven curation for economic, finance and business content.

Unlike Cartman, we won’t expect you to respect our authority. But we do hope we’ll do a great job in representing, reflecting and respecting your authority, whatever it may be.