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College and the Reputation-based Economy

College and the Reputation-based Economy

Anya Kamanetz l GOOD

April 05, 2010

Interestingly, Behance has a family connection to the history of higher education. Scott Belsky, who founded the site in 2007 at age twenty-eight, also happens to be the grandson of test prep king Stanley Kaplan. “My grandfather started the test-prep industry out of a desire to make college admissions more of a meritocracy—because, back in the day, the SAT was the only way the underprivileged could gain admission to top colleges,” Belsky says. “I admire my grandfather’s intention, and I see a parallel need in the creative community.”

A young person without much money or connections can build whuffie by trading what they do have: time and energy. These days, you can contact just about anybody you admire or whose work you are interested in through the Internet and ask them if you can help them in any way, ask them to be your mentor, or just simply ask them a question.

If we could supplement or supplant the diploma-based system for finding jobs and relationships with a more whuffie-based system, we could get closer to the true idea of a meritocracy. And as people start to create meaningful data trails and interact socially on the Internet, this concept gets farther away from science fiction and closer to real life.

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