Saturday, December 13, 2008

Trust In Blogs

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Trust is a strange and capricious emotion. Its composition is built on experience from the moment of birth. The bonding between parent and child is a fabric woven out of the intimacy and trust within that relationship.

It manifests itself in the early school years when relationships are fashioned within groups of children. A child’s learning is influenced by the trust placed in the teacher, and likewise the trust the teacher has for the learner.

A foundation of partnerships:

Trust is the foundation of partnerships, whether in friendship, marriage, business, or trade and exchange. The lack of it can preclude the formation of any of those alliances and can lead to disputes, fights, battles and wars.

People in business, and in sales in particular, are aware of the reliance of success on trust between vendor and client, or between agents in partnerships.

Britt Watwood’s post, The Trust Factor, discusses trust from the point of view of trustworthiness as a quotient. At that time he had been introduced to a web device designed to assess a trust quotient.

Trust in blogs:

Recently, interest has been centred on people’s trust in blogs, and particularly though not exclusively in company blogs, fuelled by the latest report by Forrester Research Inc.

Tony Karrer’s recent post, No Trust, is a reflective take on this, and the opinions expressed by others. I left a comment, and he responded:

Often we don't have time to get to know someone. Rather we have to make snap judgements based on little pieces of information. There are lots of great resources from libraries about this problem of evaluation. Most of us have our patterns figured out. But what's interesting is to hear other people's likely patterns. Oh, this is a blog by someone I don't know - I don't trust this information.

Tony is right, of course. Often there is no time to form a trust of a situation or of a person. But with a blog, there are other emotions that can arise within the reader. Time is less urgently associated with the decision-making.

The power of the blog:

There is a complex mix of emotions, conceptions, misconceptions and beliefs that may well lead to diversity in how people view blogs. The wonderful thing about blogs for unprejudiced minds is that they can permit discussions to unfold.

Our discussion brought us to a consensus, and demonstrated the power that the blog post has to bring about accord. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I’d like to think so. I am grateful to Tony, and to blogging, for the opportunity to share our opinions across the globe.

My comment to Tony was much along the following lines:

There may well be a need to distinguish between not trusting a person/company/blog and saying that person/company/blog is untrustworthy.

I am clearly not going to 'trust' a person that I've never met before (why should I trust them?) BUT it would be libel for me here to say that person is untrustworthy. My experience is that some people cannot tell the difference between not trusting, and untrustworthy.

Distrust in blogs:

I can understand the distrust that readers have when they come across a blog for the first time. I believe it's a similar emotion that prevents a lot of people from ever putting a comment on a post. Some people just 'don't trust' the Internet. They may even think that it's untrustworthy.

There are many examples of this (type of) distrust. For instance, when telephone banking was first introduced, people distrusted that system.

When Internet banking became a reality, people distrusted it for the same reason – they needed time to gather more information about it, to hear of successful use, to meet people they knew who used it successfully. What would not reinforce their trust in the systems would be reports of Internet fraud or other things going wrong.

A mix of emotions:

There is a mix of emotions that most people experience when they have to put their trust in something or in someone. The transactional analysis of such a situation indicates that the would-be-participant has a degree of lack of confidence that explains their unwillingness to trust.

So I’d say that it is logical for someone to say, "Oh, this is a blog by someone I don't know - I don't trust this information."

Acquiring trust is a process:

The process of gaining trust is cyclical, with an indeterminate period. Observations are checked against a list of criteria. The list may be a defined checklist or it may simply be a list of doubts in the mind of the observer. In most instances it’s a list of doubts.

People who are duped by a person/company/blog have not utilised their cognitive abilities to the best, and some would just say that they were “too trusting”.

The snap decision:

In business circles, snap decisions are being made all the time - you will know this. Sometimes the decisions made, purportedly based on trust, are the wrong ones. I would say that in any snap decision, there is not sufficient time for it to be based on trust, for it takes time for the iterative cycle to permit trust to be established.

So when a person comes across a person/company/blog for the first time, they make a snap decision based on what they know. It requires an analytical mind to know what to do to validate their first formed opinion, to verify their doubts.

A few home truths:

Let me share a few home truths with you, for I am the most trusting person I know. :-)

If my experience was that I was often duped through interaction with people/companies/blogs, or I’d heard of the same happening among my friends, I might be disinclined to have anything to do with people/companies/blogs. I’m not like that of course.

Some would say that I was a very distrusting person. I’d tend to refute that statement and say that I am discerning and analytical.

I try to verify, almost unequivocally, any first formed opinion that I may have (of trust OR distrust) before I make any significant decision, other than transactional ones.

Unfortunately (either for me or others) most people aren’t like me. It's probably why I’m in the minority sector of society who reads blog posts and comments on them, never mind blogging about it.

related posts - >> ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Haere rā – Farewell


Tony Karrer said...

It's a bit of a mind bender to have a trusted relationship when we are across the world and have never had a real time conversation?

Thanks for the pointer to Britt's post.

Sameer Vasta said...

I've been doing a lot of reading about trust online and particularly journalistic transparency. Thought you might find this recent post by Chris Brogan interesting, as he now finds himself right in the thick of the trust controversy.

Britt Watwood said...

As usual, a reflective piece, my friend (and like Tony, I have never met you, but I do think of you as "my friend."

And like friendship, trust is built over time and over conversations (which blogging is). What is different today is the openness of the web and the ability for others to find and call out someone who is violating their trust. To a degree, it relies on Shirky's Wisdom of the Crowds philosophy.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koutou

Tony- I guess that's what this whole thing is (supposed to be) all about. What is it that they say? Walk the talk? This is what I'd call blog the talk. Sobering isn't it?

Sameer- Thanks for the link, I've been checking this out - complex stuff. I had to read through the story several times to catch the drift of it. It'll certainly be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Britt- "Shirky's Wisdom of the Crowd's philosophy." I've been reading up about that since you commented - thanks. More philosophy, and great think-fodder. Talking of trust, I hope you get your bear scat cleaned up soon - a bit of a nuisance I'd say. Here's hoping it's easily fixed.

Catchya later