Friday, January 21, 2005, 1:10 AM

Trust is an Emotion

With all this talk about trust between systems, it might behove us to take a closer look at what "trust" really is about. Trust is an emotion. Trust can't be achieved by just focusing on the technical. The technical is necessary (except to the naive), but insufficient. Ultimately, even if you have a near perfect system (security-wise), it does not matter if your target users do not trust the system.

Conclusion: Discussions about terms like "trust-based systems" do not achieve much if they do not take human feelings into consideration.

Corollary: If you are only interested in describing technical aspects of systems, avoid using the term "trust".

That being said, using "trust" as an adjective in certain noun phrases still makes sense. For example, "trust framework" -- a framework within which trust (an emotion) can be facilitated.

In his blog entry, Trust is part of Identity Transaction (, Dick Hardt argues that there is a problem in Kim Cameron's third "law" of identity because it implies that trust is required by a transaction without specifying what it really means, technically.

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