Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Reading a recent post by gsiemens in elearnspace,

"Trust is tied to reliability and consistency. The "big institutions" - government, religious, corporate - that were the object of trust in the past have, in the last century in particular, been revealed as flawed. While people still pursue religious activities and subject themselves to government, the authority of these institutions is being replaced (is augmented a better word) by personal networks of trust" click here for full post

It occurs to me that lack of trust in "big institutions", whether secular or religious, is hardly a new thing. I would point to Martin Luther, George Washington or Robespierre (it is always fun to remind the French that the American revoltion preceded theirs by thirteen years and if you want to be really annoying that the British one preceded that by a century). In any case, my point is that mistrust is hardly a new thing.

What I would suggest is changing is the access to alternative viewpoints without obvious vested interests. It is widely held that adding user ratings to internet shopping sites was the thing which finally unlocked people's wallets to shop online. With hindsight it is easy to grasp that your average internet shopper was more prepared to accept the view of a complete stranger often from another part of the world than s/he was to believe the vendor or the manufacturer.

We believe "joe1890" or whomever, when he says, "I bought this and it's great, one small problem is changing batteries" because he has absolutely nothing to gain from me buying the same item.

It is the issue of vested interest web 2.0 turns upon. Perhaps large sites that wish to be trusted should declare a register of interests...

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