The Harvard Kennedy School’s Joseph Nye has suggested a site like urban legend debunker snopes.com be instituted for reputation, a place that people would know to check to get the full story when they see something scandalous but decontextualized. The subjects of the scandalous data would similarly know to place their answers there — perhaps somewhat mitigating the need to formally link it to each instance of the original data. Google invites people quoted or discussed within news articles to offer addenda and clarification directly to Google, which posts these responses prominently near its link to the story when it is a search result within Google News.
In Davos a decade ago, I asked a Silicon Valley CEO what would be the future of privacy in the age of the internet. His reply: "Going, if not gone. Get over it." Today in a panel on "Privacy: Your Life as an Open Book," Jonathan Zittrain presented a chilling set of illustrations of how accurate that prediction now seems. Ariana Huffington wondered about the effect on spontaneity and authenticity in public life if transparency makes everyone so cautious that they use only "press-conference speak." I wondered if technology might help provide some help if there were a way to establish a reputational repair site. Suppose some future Jimmy Wales established "Clean-up.com." Just as newspapers have letters and boxes for corrections, the virtual world could provide a site where anyone who felt that a quote or picture was out of context or misrepresented, their views could say so for the record. The formula would be a wiki so that others could comment or correct as they wished, but unlike Wikipedia where you are not supposed to edit your own entry, in this case the last word would be with the person maligned. Just an idea for some public spirited soul to pick up, develop, or trash, but an example of the type of far out thoughts generated by panels in Davos.