Saturday, August 18, 2007

Facebook | Compare People

Facebook Compare People

This nifty (and fun, and sometimes cruel) little program is actually an extremely important demonstration of my favorite mantra "Triumph of the Subjective," and in more ways than one. Particularly, while this is just a fun program, it's actually an illustration of a Peer-to-Peer Contextual Reputation System.

The application presents one with a question comparing two people in one's buddy list, asking one to compare two people as more this or more that, or to choose between two people in the context of "who would you rather travel with?" and then the results are posted and sent (if opted). Judgment and evaluation by comparison and sorting/ranking are examples of Introverted Judgment (Ji). Comparison, at its root, is only done two objects at a time, and this is especially so if one is looking to sort a list ordinally. Limited to comparisons between two people, Ji eliminates matching everyone to an imagined criteria (for example,".. is this person African-American?"), which is Extraverted Judgment (Je). Extraverted Judgment, which is objective, requires agreed-upon rules and applying an established taxonomy, as opposed to a personal taxonomy created on the fly based on the circumstances at hand.

One could ask the same question and eventually compare every person to every other person you've ever encountered, and then you'd have a completely sorted list. This would be true provided no information or opinions changed during this long process, and that no new items are added to the list.. This kind of process takes an *extremely* long time (as does all Introverted Judgment with many objects). But this process is very quick with the very limited set of Two.

The questions from this application usually center around a certain narrow topic, essentially creating a specific context for a reputation. Narrow context is Introverted in nature, and Broad context is Extraverted. A global and general reputation is Extraverted, while a personal and contextual reputation is Introverted. One can have as many contextual reputations as one can create contexts.

This is also Introverted Judgment because it doesn't require you to ask this of every person in your list. If you don't evaluate someone you've encountered, they essentially don't have a ranking within the context. If I've never asked a friend if they even know what Dungeons and Dragons is, they aren't going to have a D&D-playable reputation score at all. If one is a heterosexual male, there isn't much point in asking which of two other males encountered is the sexier of the two, as the context is inappropriate.

In the Mu system, I envision seemingly 'random' questions like this would popping up occasionally, with the frequency and relevancy determined in preferences, so that one would eventually get to everyone on one's list (or at least the highest frequently encountered people). There are indirect ways of deriving some of these scales as well. What's important is that *any* profile of a person be customizable - by those who buddy list them - just like one has the ability to tag any website. It's also important to remember that tags/scales/metrics need not be shared, or that they can be shared anonymously, or that they can remain completely private and personal. The current fascination of sharing and publishing everything on the Web is going to have a severe balancing backlash soon - and it should be enabled sooner rather than later.
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