Today’s workers and students and even socialites all rely heavily on data. It’s intoxicatingly succint, able to deliver a jugdment call in the time that it takes to glance at a screen. But despite the huge technological advances that we’ve made in recent years, there are certain tasks that computers are simply not very good at. Determining value, which is different from determining influence, is one of them. Case in point, writes Josh Klein: People of very different reputations (Bono, the Koch brothers) might attain equivalent degrees of influence, and people of very different levels of influence (Bono, Mom) might have the same reputation in a given person’s mind. Until this difference is reconciled, we will always fail when we try to define reputation as an objective, numerical truth.
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