Trust, as Fukuyama said is the basis for economic growth.

You can have community without commerce, but you can’t have commerce without community – Crockford said this and he’s da man when it comes to social networking IMO.

So, what’s the point?

With all the money and buzz flowing into and around social networks, why do all the sites ignore the issue of trust if it’s that important? Linkedin seems to be the only site that gives it a drive-by addressing but only in the professional connection market.

Shellen and I were talking about potential new services and businesses the other day and we both agreed that when your friends tell you about something, you listen. (We learned this at ConsumerREVIEW). Why? Because you trust them. This is “the money”.

The paradox is, that as a site grows it’s proportionally less trustworthy. There’s an inverse relationship between growth and trust which no one seems to be addressing. Is it even possible?

Building a tool that addresses this issue would be equivalent (in the offline world) to figuring out how to meet, and then really understand the motives of say 100,000 people. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to meet 100,000 people – think of all the hand sanitizer you’d need.

Plus people are fickle and complicated. The guy who’s taste in movies you abhor might be an engineer and have expert knowledge on flat panel TVs. So if you diss his movie recommendations, you might lose a valuable recommendation when it comes time to buy a flat panel.

Miss Rouge is making a nice little career these days talking about community but she’s standing on giants’ shoulders IMO. No one seems to have noticed all the previous work that has gone on in this very important space, which I guess is why i’m bringing it up.

What do you think?


2 Responses to “Trust”

  1. 1 VipPatel November 2, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Agreed that at the current stage of social net development, trust quotient per a new social connection is marginally less than the one previous to that.

    Our traditional methods of interaction limit our “circle of trust” to a very few people. Most of our dependencies are tied to this core group – sharing happiness, sorrow, movie and flat panel recommendations etc. So, if there’s a guy in this circle that has both bad taste in movies but a great understanding of flat panels, you’ve found a way to be comfortable with both – perhaps you’ve gone to a few bad movies b/c he goes with you to the auto show. This comfort has taken time to build, as you got to know each other etc. If your interactions hadn’t gone so well, he would be in an outer concentric circle (to borrow from Franklin Covey)- say the circle of acquaintences. When you’re buying a flat panel, you might regret how you dissed him due to his movie choice the first time you had met. So, to some extent, you have to take people as a whole – the more people are like you, the more they are likely to be in the core group. You’re also limited to the knowledge within this core group when it comes to chosing a flat panel. Let’s call this the lumpy model of social interaction – you can have the good in somebody if you’re willing to put up with the bad (with a smile).

    Now let’s say the long term impact of social networking sites might be that people adapt to a more granular way of interaction. The 100,000 people in your group over time will be vetted down to a smaller number (but likely still substantially larger than the current circle of trust you have). Just as in face to face interactions, you’ve learned to be not to quick to insult someone before you know them well. In this case, if you seek a recommendation, you’ll have not only the benefit of your friend’s flat panel knowledge, but also of many more users. You’ll quickly get a set of opinions that cover a broader spectrum of issues with chosing a flat panel (understood that having more information may actually make your final decision difficult, but at least it would be more educated).

    More importantly, you may never have to know that most people whose recommendations helped you have bad tastes in not only movies but many other things you’d rather not deal with. Because your interactions are interest based, you’ll have different circles of trust you reach out to for diffent issues. It may be a while before we get there, but it’s likely social networking in its current form and future developments will change the way we interact, much like telephone did since it’s advent – we might be able to build dynamic circles of trust that are based on interests.

  2. 2 gregarius November 10, 2007 at 1:29 am

    All good points but i’m looking for the silver bullet – the solution that allows my close circle to interact and make recommendations to each other and to me which currently doesn’t work well on the net.

    My linkedin ‘freinds’ are a sub or supra-set of my facebook friends, etc. We still haven’t figured out a way for all my ‘close’ friends to know about and trust each other. I think you have to get that right first before adding the gallaxy or you end up with a what weve got today – a bunch of people that linked but aren’t really making the most of the connections they already have.

    Start with something small and make it great, not just good and the rest will take care of itself?

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