David G.W.Birch recently posted a very thought-provoking contribution Badges? We Don't Need No Linkedin Badges on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. In it, he argues that social networks are beginning to replace other intermediaries (hacks) in the trust networks that we use to build efficiencies in society. These hacks are such things as credit ratings, badges, dress codes, and (most pertinent for this post) diplomas - they increase our confidence that we understand the characteristics of people with whom we interact. However, through social networks, which enable everyone to contact everyone else instantaneously, we can now get real information about the actual knowledge, productivity, etc of an individual. As a result:
As social capital (the result of the computations across the social graph) becomes accessible and useable, the hacks will fade. A college degree will be worth less than it is now. Using hacks instead of real data is just not good enough in a connected world. Google was famous for its rigorous hiring criteria, but when its analysts looked at “tens of thousands” of interview reports and attempted to correlate them with employee performance, they found “zero” relationship. The company’s infamous interview brainteasers turned out not to predict anything. Even more interesting: Nor did school grade and test scores. As job performance data racks up, the proportion of Google employees with college degrees has decreased over time.