Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
A few weeks I was grabbing coffee with Craig Newmark … giving him the update on Rapleaf and getting his advice on our project to make it more profitable to be ethical. “you’re talking about Whuffie,” he said.
I admit, I rarely read fiction. I’ve limited myself to reading one fiction book a year … and last year it was a novel that a was written by a friend. But Craig convinced me. “Rapleaf is about Whuffie.” He said I needed to read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom right away. I have a huge amount of respect for Craig … so of course I went out and bought the book right away
… and then it languished on my bookshelf for a few weeks while we were big fixing. But I finally had a chance to down the book.
And Craig was right … this is a fantastic book.
And one that really defines what a futuristic portable reputation is. Cory Doctorow’s weaves a great story of Jules and his adventures in a futuristic Disney World. And it goes very well with the Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil which I read earlier in the year.
In this world, the reputation of the person is his currency. Wikipedia’s definition of Whuffie:
The usual economic incentives have disappeared from the book’s world. Whuffie has replaced money, providing a motivation for people to do useful and creative things. A person’s Whuffie is a general measurement of his or her overall reputation, and Whuffie is lost and gained according to a person’s favorable or unfavorable actions. The question is, who determines which actions are favorable or unfavorable? In Down and Out, the answer is public opinion. Rudely pushing past someone on the sidewalk will definitely earn you negative points from them (and possibly bystanders who saw you), while composing a much-beloved symphony will earn you positive Whuffie from everyone who enjoyed it.
1. always listen to Craig Newmark’s suggestions
2. if you are interested in reputation and musings about the future, read this book