For years I have grappled with the changes in perceiving, verifying and promoting trust relationships online. There are several established models out there, ranging from digital certificates to various authentications regimes, but I have always been interested in the projection of face to face trust relationships (from good to bad, from violent to non-existent) onto virtual domains. Does the use of ICTs foster trust? They can monitor, check, verify – but this a curious, evolving and complex relationship about trusting the technology that tells us who and what to trust.
These were questions we grappled with in the design of the One Text process in Sri Lanka. Technology was a key enabler of the conversations in that process. The choice of technology helped, but so did the nature of those who were behind adapting it. The technology alone I firmly believe would, however secure it would have been, encountered significant resistance if it wasn’t for for a neutral who facilitated the process and in whose bona fides everyone believed in.
On the other hand, the technology also fostered trust amongst participants, in it and also in the discussions carried using it. As I frequently note, the technology created trust where little or none existed and where it could not have been created face to face.
A recent review of two books on Ars Technica explores this issue, albeit from a legal perspective. Read The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy online here.