Monday, July 28, 2003

Article: Passing the Stink Test

Here's an interesting effort to overcome the information failure issue mentioned a couple weeks ago. An MIT student has put together a corporate ethics geiger counter. You scan a UPC symbol, and it spits out its opinions on the company. It's awfully primitive, but has a lot of potential. The quality and completeness of the data the devices uses don't appear to be very good at this point. It was suggested on /. that this thing should come configurable, such that you could take a quiz or fill out a preference form, and the device would weight its results based on your ethical preferences. It's an idea with a lot of merit, but still leaves us with the issue of who maintains the data and how trustworthy they are. Particularly once the system is automated (so users have no direct interaction with the data) and is directly attached to consumers' purchase decisions (driving up the ante for companies), capture may be a real concern.

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