Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On Trust

Here we are, module 2 of Connected Courses, and the focal topics for these next two weeks are Trust and Network Fluency. This module we have a few webinars to watch, and there are a number of book recommendations. Truthfully I cannot make it through these books, as much as I would love to read some of them at the moment.  Too many other things happening to focus meaningfully on them. I guess I will focus on the (free) audiovisual media provided, and the information posted by other participants (225 connected blogs thus far!).

I've decided to break down a (potentially) bigger post to two smaller ones.  This one will focus on Trust, and the subsequent one on network fluency.

Trust is an odd concept and it's not easy to pin down. We might think that we know what trust is, however many of us tend to default to the US Supreme Court's definition of  "I know it when I see it" which is quite subjective.  In the introductory reading for this module, is "my data showing in this" there is  an interesting thought present:  people of a certain age (including myself) can hide behind a vail of anonymity, at least as far as our youth goes.  The Internet was not around, or it was nascent, and as a consequence of that lots of old data has been scrubbed by the sands of time (hey, where's my old Geocities page?). It would appear that these days, the days of facebook, instagram, snapchat, and ubiquitous computing, that services are collecting data about us, data voluntarily contributed by way of using these services, that could come back to bite us in the rear at some point in the future, even for the most innocuous stuff, like buying a loaf of bread at your local baker using a specific credit card.

So, going back to that "I'll know trust when I see it" aspect, or better yet "I'll know trust when I feel it" brings me to the point of whom do you Trust, especially on the web?  Do you trust your classmates? Do you trust your family? Do you trust your professors?  How about your banker?  Trust, at least in dealing with humans, isn't a binary.  I think that there are levels of trust, so the follow up question is "trust them with what?" Do you tell your barber everything when you're making conversation as he snips your hair?  Do you trust your parents with information about your friends? Do you trust your classmates to keep what you said in class in confidence and not to share it with others?

In the online environment,  the other question is what do you trust?  Services like blogger and twitter allow you to create private profiles that only authorized people can view.  So, even if you trust certain people with certain information, can you trust that the IT infrastructure is going to live up to the promise of privacy?  Are the owners of the service, and their trusted sys-admins keep out of your private stuff? Do you trust that it is safe from hackers?  These are big questions, however for me they are at quite a meta-level.  The key, starting, question is this:  in a connected course, can you trust that others will engage with you, and your materials, in good faith? And if they don't, if they start to troll you, can you trust yourself to act appropriately (whatever that might look like)?

Trust is an odd thing to quantify.  Your thoughts?

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