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Trust in weblog conversations

Adding my 5 cents to a conversation on trust and weblogs:

Patricia Arnold:

In this blog discussion I see a question of trust. I need to know with whom I’m taking. That’ the opposite of the blogger’s attitude. Whoever is reading it is problematic. It’s too anonymous. Trust is missing.

Nancy White:

The trust issue, Patricia, is very salient. I was talking a few weeks ago with John and Etienne about a different kind of trust I see in network systems, like blog networks, and I think there is a very strong informational trust. Not that I have to get to know you to trust you ,but I have to get to know what you write about and how you write about it to trust you. But it is a different sort of trust. Not so much about personal identity, but domain related identity. Does that make any sense?

Have a mixed feelings about this. From one side I agree with Nancy that blogging is about “I have to get to know what you write about and how you write about it to trust you”, but I wouldn’t call it “domain related identity”. Domain related trust is an important factor in a continuing to read a weblog or engaging into interactions with its author, but this is not enough to invite the blogger to stay in your house or to go an extra mile to meet or engage into doing work together.

For me trust means some degree of emotional understanding and attachment and it is always involves getting to know the person behind any content. It’s about trusting a blogger as a person, not as an information source. Ask me about bloggers I really trust and I’d probably tell you more about what kind of people they are, than about content of their weblogs.

I guess that in the conversation there is another aspect as well. Patricia talks about writer’s trust (I have to know and trust my readers to know how to talk to them), while Nancy about readers’s trust (when I read your weblog I start trusting you). Those are very different, since when you write a weblog your audience include readers with all kinds of relations to you, including those that come there from Google. So, I guess the question of trust in a weblog conversation is to a great degree about being able to speak to trusted and unknown audiences at the same time (next to that there is always an issue of ambiguity – you never know who is listening and you can’t really count on someone talking back).

Weblog conversations are very different from those of a closed forum: you don’t know exactly who is listening, how far they are interested, what would happen next. Writing a weblog post is not a deliberate activity of engaging into a conversation, but always an opportunity to have one – a possibility for an interaction.

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/10/16.html#a1844; comments are here.

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