Tuesday, May 03, 2005, 10:50 PM

Jamie Lewis et al on Trust

Jamie Lewis wrote Thinking Out Loud About Trust, Part I yesterday and kicked off a bunch of postings from Dave Kearns (Trust-busting), Kim Cameron (A thread you should follow), and Phil Windley (Doing Away with Trust)... and I'm sure there's more to come.

I agree with Dave's sentiment that the trust is often used because of marketing reasons. I also agree with the notion that trust is often thrown around too easily when describing technical systems. However, my reason for agreeing is rather simple... trust is primarily an emotion. (See Trust is an Emotion.)

Here's how I define trust in the context of digital systems:

Trust is an evaluation, by an entity, of the reliablity of an identity when the identity is involved in interactions. The level of trust is typically based on the technical strength of the identity, but it also includes the evaluating entity's subjective considerations (e.g. feelings) of the reliability of the entity the identity represents. Trust is at least partially transitive (as in the case of notaries).
If you agree with my definition, it should start to be clear why trust is not a good term to use in a technical discussion. You can have all the technical reasons why there should be trust (e.g. cryptography, assertions, legal agreements, etc.) and still not have trust because the evaluator simply does not have good vibes about the entity in question.

However, trust is still an appropriate term to use in the bigger context of our business and social requirements of digital systems because, ultimately, trust has to be there for business and social interaction to occur.

I'm looking forward to Jamie's Part II.

Update (May 4 & 5, 2005):
o Instead of Part II, Jamie Lewis posted Thinking Out Loud About Trust, Part Ia.
o Dave Kearns responded to Jamie's Part Ia: A trisk-et (a trasket?).
o Jack Kobielus wrote fyi A thread you should follow.
o Eric Nolin wrote Not all of us......
o Peter Davis added Misplaced Trust in the verb "Trust".
o Xageroth Sekarius chimed in with 4 babbled points about human trust.

Update (May 6, 2005):
o Part II is out: Thinking Out Loud About Trust, Part II.
o Dave Kearns has already responded with Precognition?.

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