“Online reputation management” is reminiscent of the political term “spin control.” But the Internet is not traditional media, and opportunities for controlling one’s reputation are quite different, in theory unlimited, but in practice limited by an almost inherent lack of focus, and the countervailing weight of mainstream media.

Many of these reputation managers involve rating methods, from Epinions.com’s Web of Trust, to eBay’s ratings (and huge anti-fraud department), to Slashdot.org’s highly-evolved Meta Moderation system.

These seem important to devotees of those web sites, and techies in particular are entranced by voting schemes. However, compared to the vast readership of a reputation manager like the Associated Press, with tens of millions of readers, or newscaster Paul Harvey, with enormous credibility and over 10 million devoted listeners, they are but a drop in the bucket, promising though they may be.

This stands to reason. Mainstream media, by the “permission of the marketplace”, is for practical purposes a push technology – unless people start throwing their morning paper in the trash unread, and put the radio and TV in the closet.

More here.