Recommendations and our (digital) reputation

Yesterday a blog post from JP Rangaswami got me thinking about the increasing value of an honest recommendation. Today a LinkedIn post by danah boyd got me thinking (a little bit more) about the future of work and some blurring lines (and also about what a dream job would look like!). Combined, they also got me thinking about how we are now continuously shaping our reputation. Yes, continuously.

But first things first. JP’s post will make your mouth water as he details his successful quest to find a restaurant that does justice to a particular dish he likes. But it ends (spoiler alert!) with the story of how the restaurant owners preferred to be thanked via a recommendation on TripAdvisor instead of the usual tip:

“People don’t want to be thanked in cash, when you could recommend them to others. That’s what matters to them more than the cash”

danah’s brilliant post with interrogations on the future of work describes her dream job (a dream job indeed!):

“I’m a researcher who gets to follow my passions, investigate things that make me curious. I manage my own schedule and task list. Some days, I wake up and just read for hours. I write blog posts and books, travel, meet people, and give talks. I ask people about their lives and observe their practices. I think for a living”

But what got me thinking again about a topic well under discussion nowadays was this bit:

“People keep returning to the mantra of “work-life balance” as a model for thinking about their lives, even as it’s hard to distinguish between what constitutes work and what constitutes life, which is presumably non-work. But this binary makes little sense for many people. And it raises a serious question: what does labor mean in a digital ecosystem where sociality is monetized and personal and professional identities are blurred?”

Which led me to consider this: I firmly believe that in a digitally connected world with blurred frontiers between our personal and professional “selves” we shape our reputation continuously through what we write, the opinions we give, how we care for others and engage with them, how we contribute to the communities we belong to, the content we curate, the side projects we are involved in, the positive or negative signals we choose to amplify on the social web.

And we help shape the reputation of others by giving them our attention, sharing what they do or write, but mostly by conceding them our thoughtful recommendations and endorsements, just as JP will probably do for that restaurant.

That is why I took some time off this sunny Sunday to write a (non-solicited) LinkedIn recommendation for a work colleague I enjoy working with (and I don’t feel like going into the whole “LinkedIn killed recommendations with the endorsement skills functionality” debate, at least not today).

That is also the reason for always explaining why I (at times) recommend people on Twitter via the Friday Follow (#ff).

So my point is: if you care and endorse, then help shape someone’s reputation by acknowledging and visibly recommending their work. And yes, without expecting a recommendation back in return.

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