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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Internet-based reputation systems allow to generate, process, and publish reputationally relevant information. They sustain practices that at first sight might appear to be an incarnation of traditional gossip, where a subject, “ego,” transmits evaluative information to others, “alter,” about an absent “tertius.” This chapter argues that such identification is inappropriate, and it proposes a characterization of gossip that is suited for the Internet Age. While being different in several ways, gossip and Internet-based reputation systems display a functional similarity: they both generate reputationally relevant information, which reverberates on the distribution of resources, hence of power. In generating such information, Internet-based reputation systems level the playing field and, in a sense, “democratize” gossip. Deliberate engineering could enhance this interesting characteristic of Internet-based reputation systems, particularly so in applications to public governance, which is an explicit focus of this chapter.

Keywords: Internet-based reputation systems, reputation-based governance, gossip, public governance, legibility of the state

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