I’m going to wield the magical big stick super powers I have a subject coordinator and veto some class decisions that were made about participation in relation to assessment. Specifically, if you claim to do something, and haven’t, then something should happen as a consequence. I’ll explain why, but first I’m doing this not because I think the alternatives developed or other options are wrong, but in the specific context of network media and the trust based assessment model we have adopted we want the idea of trust, reputation, and the concept of a trust or reputation network to be enacted. In this model trust is understood and defined as an obligation you have to another, it is not only a relation you have with yourself. Trust, in this deep sense, is where you have expectations of others and they, in turn, of you. I trust that my friend will do what she says she will do, the people I am collaborating with will do what they say they will do and that I even need to trust other drivers on the road to, pretty closely, follow the road rules, and I will too, so that it isn’t Russian roulette every time I decide to drive a car, or ride a bike.
In this way of thinking about trust we can see that it is not something I can define for myself. It is completely dependent on the judgement of others. It is not up to me to decide that I’m trustworthy – this is up to those that need to trust me to determine. This is similar (not identical, but similar) to how reputation works online. Your reputation as a blogger for example is determined by others judgement, often realised through readership, and more significantly, links in. This is why a twelve year old can be an authoritative fashion blogger, even they when they started they had absolutely no industry reputation or position at all. I could be employed as a fancy professor at an Ivy League university, but when I take up blogging, if my blog isn’t much good, then it simply isn’t much good and its reputation (and potentially mine) will be low. However, as a professor at an Ivy League university I don’t have to do much else to have reputation and authority within the university, simply because it is a hierarchical system and I am, by definition, a long way up towards the top. Being near the top bestows authority – the role and hierarchy guarantee this – whereas when I start blogging, my prestige from my position will probably help, but if I don’t walk the walk in my blog my real world position very rapidly counts for little. This is why we can think of it as a reputation network, because the authority of your blog is determined by others, not by the institutional granting of authority (they are a professor, they must know what they are talking about, they are employed by Vogue, what they think matters more than someone not employed in the fashion industry, they write for a music magazine so must know more than that blogger over there).
The participation assessment is repeating this. It relies on trust as you self audit your participation each week, but it only becomes a trust network when others are able to judge your trustworthiness. Remember, trust is not something you can self define, it relies fundamentally on your conduct in relation to others, and they are the ones who decide. (It is hard to build, easy to break, much harder, if broken, to restore.) Therefore for the participation assessment to become a trust network there needs to be consequences of breaking that trust. What those consequences are, well that I’m less concerned about then making it clear that trust is not something you are able to define for yourself – it is not up to me to claim that I’m trustworthy. I can think I am, I can claim I am, but the proof is what others say about me, not what I say about myself. Why? Because trust relies upon an ethical obligation to an other.