egoBoo for a better world
Every day people do favors for those around them, expecting no reward. Others make mischief with no fear of censure; it's easy to move on and ignore inflicted pain. Everybody has opinions about which professions and individuals are under- or overpaid: teachers, executives, politicians. We read articles about do-gooders or scoundrels and feel in turn warm and upset, but rarely have the ability or time to make our opinion known to the subject. Multitudes have cried out for political and social changes, but focused petition platforms and forums are neither universal nor personal enough to rally around. What if we could aggregate everybody's opinions to measure each individual's contribution to society? If we can measure reputation, might people seek to maximize the good they do, rather than the money they earn, or their personal pleasure? By gamifying good, we hope to bring the best out in people.
egoBoothe feeling you get when you read your name in the newspaperprovides a way to measure social status. We aim to create a network where people boost each others' ego daily by awarding points for good behavior. It is a general reputation system for everyone. egoBoo puts the power of judgment in every citizen's hands, allowing you to appreciate those that do good, and disapprove of those who do harm. Although ego busting is possible, outright bullying will be discouraged algorithmically. Our goal is to create a way to measure global opinion, re-capturing the small-town talk of yesterday in today's global society. By measuring the opinions of the people, powerful individuals and institutions will be forced to heed the collective will of the people.
How it Works
Each day users are given a fixed number of points (say, 10) to boost or bust anyone on egoBoo. You may even vote for the same person multiple times. All votes will be anonymous to ensure that egoBoosts cannot be demanded and egoBusts cannot be punished (e.g., by employers). New users start off with the median egoBoo score, so that early adopters will not be unduly rewarded. Votes will be weighted according to the voter's reputation, employing a PageRank-like algorithm. People may exchange messages, but anybody can choose to publically publish a received message, either to display praise or to expose a bully. The combined ratings from those who rate you show how much society values you. Because the public can see can see what your value is, you should do good, and avoid hurting others. Be kind and you will gain egoBoo through the respect of your acquaintances.
The Bigger Picture
This is not a new idea: egoBoo has been bouncing around our heads for at least four years, inspired by Whuffie in Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and reading about cultures with gift economies. It is meant to instantiate a form of social currency, and to be a timid step towards direct democracy (although we have other ideas of how that should work). The internet has enabled many specialized reputation systems: from merchants on eBay and Amazon to Yelp restaurant reviews and so on. But after much thought as we watched events such as the subprime mortgage collapse, the Occupy Wall St. movement, and the Arab Spring, we firmly believe that a general reputation system would be A Very Good Thing for humanity to have in it's struggle to do The Right Thing. Chasing money can win individuals enough privilege to be able to ignore those they trample on the way. Only by making the primary goal to help those around us can we make sure there is a good future for humanity at large.
Michael Hansen and George Kachergis met as Cognitive Science Ph.D. students at Indiana University. By night, we combine our powers and moonlight as paladins of all that is good. Our goal is to create a moral compass; a weathervane that follows the wind of the people's whispers.