Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

The Brave And Dangerous New World Of The Reputation Economy

Michael Fertik at the 2011 World Economic Forum
Flickr Photo/World Economic Forum (CC BY NC SA 2.0)
Michael Fertik at the 2011 World Economic Forum

For centuries great thinkers have tried to make sense of how to judge human character. Socrates, for instance, famously said, “The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” The internet age throws a wicked curve ball at that seemingly simple advice.

Our speaker this week seeks to shed some light on the complex reality of the modern reputation. He compares our society to the early days of primitive humans, when everyone knew everyone else’s stories and secrets, and people lived and died according to their community standing.

Michael Fertik is a privacy advocate and the founder and CEO of His company helps clients manage their online reputations to positive effect. He’s good with thought-provoking and creepy tips for the modern consumer, like why you shouldn’t buy alcohol or tobacco with credit cards and how your online reputation can prevent you from getting jobs and loans.

In this talk, Fertik speculates that while money has long been a key indicator of reputation, that dynamic is changing. He contends that the data compiled about us, and how it is analyzed, means more for our reputation and our chances of success in life than how much money we have.

Fertik is the author of “The Reputation Economy: How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset.”

He spoke at Town Hall Seattle on July 9.  Town Hall and University Book Store presented his talk as part of the Civics series. Thanks to Kevin Mitchem for our recording.

Photo credit: "Michael Fertik - World Economic Forum on Europe 2011," by World Economic Forum on Flickr (CC BY NC SA 2.0)

Year started with KUOW: 2006