Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reviewing the Risks and Rewards of Living on the Web

cellphone in hand

The Web is a two edge sword with benefits and risks. As you travel the Internet, review how you act and react on the sites you visit. Here are some things to think about.

We're living in a new world. Tread lightly.

That was how a friend started her Facebook post. An article she read on put a warning in her head about the dangers of texting while parenting. She wanted her friends and family to know that the relationships we have with our children and grandchildren are at stake!

According to the article, kids don't want to compete with smartphones for attention. Can you blame them?

In the 1960s and 1970s, parents were warned that watching too much TV meant spending less quality time with family. In 2015, it's the smartphone that monopolizes our attention and causes us to get grumpy when the kids interrupt a game of Candy Crush.

The moral to this story... Think before using your smartphone and watch your travels carefully when you step out on the web. It's not just our relationships with our families that are at risk.

Review Your Online Activities

The Reputation Economy is available on Amazon in Kindle, Hardcover, Audible and MP3 CD editions.
Available on
It was ironic that my friend posted this article just as I finished reading The Reputation Economy: How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation is Your Most Valuable Asset by Michael Fertik and David C. Thompson.

It's not just our children and grandchildren that react to our online activities. Our banks, employers, travel agents and others watch us as we surf the 'Net. Yes, the Big Brother from George Orwell's classic book, 1984, is alive, well and watching us. And, Big Brother's cousin, Big Data, is keeping score.

In the new and evolving Reputation Economy that is forming on the web, the authors predict that reputation, not money, will be the new power. And, how we act online will affect our online reputation score. It will be this score that will define how people see us and what they will do for us. Or, not do for us.

What is this online reputation score? It's created by a computer algorithm and it takes all of our online activities into account. How can it do this? Big Data is busy collecting everything it can about us as we travel from site to site on the web. Cookies are just one way to collect all kinds of data about us. And, data storage is so cheap that companies can afford to store petabytes of data. A petabyte is 1 million gigabytes!

With so much available cheap storage, Big Data's sibling, Big Analysis, has lots of data to work with and manipulate. Big Data can store everything from our Google searches to online purchases, websites visited and social media posts. And Big Analysis has the computing power to make a quick decision about our characters and habits.

Create an Online Reputation Plan

Think about this for a minute. The combination of data collection, cheap data storage and blazing-fast analytic abilities means that everything we do online can be under scrutiny and recorded. Algorithms have the ability to assign us a reputation score based on the people we meet, the places we go and the things we do.

How much do you know about your fellow Farmville players? You may not think your time spent with gaming friends doesn't matter, but it might. Big Data and Big Analysis may use this information to create a reputation score that affects your ability to rent a car, buy a home or receive valuable coupons.

Now, if you're thinking that you can surf the web anonymously and avoid detection, you may be wrong. According to Fertik and Thompson, "powerful software can often identify you by nothing more than the quirks of your writing style."

What do the author's of The Reputation Economy suggest we do to protect ourselves from Big Data and Big Analysis? Here are their basic tips:
  • Assume everything you do online is being collected, stored and analyzed.
  • Be careful what you say and how you react to false allegations.
  • Create a digital smokescreen to hide any negative information in your search results.

Learn How to Manage Your Online Activities

Why should you care about this online reputation score? Fertik and Thompson believe one of the outcomes of this reputation score is that business will use this score to pinpoint good customers and offer these people special offers. If you aren't lucky enough to have this prized reputation score, you may be passed over for these offers and never know it.

The moral to this story... Keep a clean social media profile, always be on your best behavior online and think before you post.

Find more insights and tips on living on the web while preserving your reputation by reading The Reputation Economy. I found this book fascinating, informative and somewhat scary. The Reputation Economy is a well researched book that looks at the effects online data collection can have on our lives and our abilities to get along in the world. It provides some serious food for thought that every netizen should be thinking about.

Coletta Teske received The Reputation Economy from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.

Posted by Coletta Teske
Coletta Teske

About This Contributor

Coletta Teske writes reviews on books, business management, writing, crafting, cooking, and gardening. She is also an avid recycler and shares her tips on recycling. She delights in upcycling an old object, recycling or transforming discarded items into a new treasure.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Looks like this book would be well worth reading for everyone who ventures forth on the World Wide Web, Coletta. Our younger generation today especially needs to know how their reputation can be damaged with careless remarks online. In fact, I have a teenage niece who lost her job because she made a negative remark about her boss on her Facebook page, thinking she was talking just to her friends. Thanks for this excellent review and reminder to be more aware of our online conduct.

    1. You're welcome, Elf. I've been concerned for a long time about the way some people act on the Web. Some people love to air their dirty laundry online and I shudder to think what will happen in their future when a computer can direct their fortunes and misfortunes. And, yes, think before posting.

  2. I have to agreed with your closing assessment. I, too, find it fascinating, informative and somewhat scary. I think many of us who were around for the first days of the internet have watched this phenomenon evolve from fun Pac Man games to life dominating, and often intrusive, media. Interesting you mentioned how it affects your relationship with your children. I was eating lunch in a restaurant earlier this week when I witnessed a mother go ballistic when her child spilled something and the need to take action interrupted her phone interactions. I, myself, wondered why the mother was so busy texting (or whatever) on the phone when she had her child right there at lunch with her. Instead of having a nice lunch together, it turned into a time of impatience and chastisement that frankly the child didn't deserve. After all, we can all drop food in our laps or spill a drink down our shirts.

    Excellent review as well as excellent food for thought!

    1. Cynthia, I've been online since the 1980s and have watched a lot of changes. Some good, some not so good. We're living in a world where it costs pennies to store high-resolution photos of every person in the United States. And, we have enough computing power to processes those petabytes of data in seconds. Sometimes I long for the days of a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk.

  3. Wow, pretty scary all right! Maybe I'll get offline.

  4. It is really easy to forget how much we are being watched. I suggested to my now grown nephew that he get rid of his former social media profile on a site no longer used because it reflected poorly on who he is now. He has matured and now holds a responsible job. I believe he has followed that advice. So many forget about those old profiles they made in their teens. I'm rather glad we didn't have the internet when I was growing up.

  5. Excellent article. I've been preaching this to my children (young men now) for years! I get rather exhausted hearing 'oh mawwmm' - trying to get them to realize this is a valid concern is difficult. Online reputation has real value, and save and except haters and 'mean' sorts, I agree that it's imperative to tread carefully and responsibly. I've written an article on this subject myself (although your article provides some excellent resources!). Data mining is big business these days, and all the points you make are very real!

  6. I think we're going to see more and more about this topic in the coming months and even years. I'm making an effort to be online less and less, in part because of not knowing exactly who is watching and what information they're recording. In fact, I'm limiting my comments, even my "likes," on various topics that seem benign but could come back to bite in the end. Excellent article and review, much to think about here.


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