Many thanks to the numerous people who wrote to tell me that Maureen Dowd had mentioned me in her splendid column about Uber. She wrote:
“I know Uber has the image of an obnoxious digital robber baron, a company that plays dirty tricks and proves that convenience “makes hypocrites of us all,” as John Naughton put it in The Guardian, noting that its very name has connotations of Nietzschean superiority. (Travis Kalanick, the C.E.O., coined the word “Boob-er” to describe his greater appeal to women because of his success.)”
Actually, even if Ms Dowd hadn’t mentioned me I would have rated her column highly because she highlights one of the odder aspects of the Uber phenomenon. She was puzzled because when she tried to summon a Uber car, most of those in her immediate vicinity immediately headed in the other direction. The explanation was provided by the driver who did pick her up, namely that they had all checked her Uber “rating” and discovered that she only got 4.2 out of 5. (Drivers rate passengers as well as vice versa.) In the end, she learned how this reputation system can be gamed: before you part company with your driver you make a deal: “five for five”.