What is a Trust Exchange?
life is hard, transactions are expensive, difficult to complete, and, of
course, risky. In some parts of the
world, lack of trust makes staying simply
alive very iffy. Trust, on the other
hand, makes life, and business, much
nicer, smoother, and more “human”. But
misplaced trust can be worse than no
trust at all.
Trust is thus very valuable.
Like other things of value – money, sheep, cars, labor, knowledge, IP –
trust can be exchanged. But exchange of all of these other things can
be and have been automated – into local, regional and global “exchanges”. By contrast, automating the exchange of trust has been much more difficult. Why?
Because trust is essentially personal and difficult to standardize.
Standardized contracts and the legal systems that make them
work can fill the gap when trust is lacking. But signing an enforceable contract is not really
a trust exchange. As proof, note that crafting and enforcing
them is extremely expensive.
Trust is exchanged
when two people – or two organizations, or two ethnic groups, or two nations --
mutually decide to trust each other,
and more, to be willing to help each other when needed.
Social networks greatly facilitate the exchange of trust. By “social
network” we mean extended networks where any connection in the network is based
on some important degree of personal trust. By “extended social networks” we mean,
social networks that extend beyond first degree connections to include 2+
degree connections, e.g., contacts of contacts, and contacts of those contacts.
Many current “social networks” on the Web today focus primarily on “first-degree” networks, e.g., a
network composed of myself and some other people whom I already know. However, there are some extremely powerful “trust exchange” applications of social networks that
primarily focus on extended social networks.
For example, when one person introduces
two people he knows, and when both of those people trust
the introducer, then it becomes almost effortless for the two previous strangers to exchange trust. In addition, extended social networks can
also help increase the exchange of trust
between two people who already know each other.
Reputation systems and user-defined access controls for
selective privacy are also applications that can be enhanced by trust
Note also that a “trust
exchange network” has essentially the same meaning as a “social capital network”. This is because
having social capital means having personal connections based on trust and reciprocity.
exchange applications in extended social networks is the primary focus of the Global Trust Exchange.