Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Extended trust on the Internet

 This is a follow on to a piece written by Amy Senger over at 1h57.com.
As Amy explored, trust is central to success in the collaborative environment. She makes the point that on the internet we don't get to look folks in the eye, hear the inflection in their voice or gauge their mannerisms. We have to base our trust on what they "say" and what they do. We examine, as best we can, what they have done in the past. And we are cautious to not get burned.

That is a start, but is that really good enough to establish real trust though? I think we intuitively and automatically create, for ourselves, 'chains of trust'. I trust Steve, Steve trusts Amy, I therefore am more likely to trust Amy. It’s why we think we should dates friends of friends in lieu or strangers. We prefer our chain of trust to blind luck.

Note that when I say trust, I mean that I trust that what Steve says and does are done in good faith. That he is truthful. And by extension, that Amy will be truthful. I don't necessarily trust Steve’s fashion sense or taste in music, but I do trust that he is being truthful about his thoughts and opinions.

We should also examine the difference between trust and security. Trust can be very powerful and can help use succeed, but it is no replacement for security. Trust can be broken and lost in an instant. Security, real security, doesn’t suffer the same failings as trust. But poorly implemented, it will stunt creativity and destroy collaboration.

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