How to study trust online


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Presentation at annual meeting of German Sociological Association DGS, October 2008. Group 34 "Power and uncertainty in Web 2.0"

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How to study trust online

  1. 1. How to study trust online … example of social networking, reputation, identity Tina Guenther, DGS08 Jena, October 10, 2008
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Introduction: four aspects of „Web 2.0“ </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptualizing trust online </li></ul><ul><li>Social Relations, Reputation, identity </li></ul><ul><li>Preconditions for trust online </li></ul><ul><li>Constitution of trust online – analytical framework </li></ul><ul><li>Applying the framework </li></ul><ul><li>Methodological implications </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Introduction <ul><li>„ Web 2.0“ is technology-driven: weblogs, wikis, RSS, AJAX, SNS, Open APIs. Web 2.0 is a self-organizing technology organizing (static) content into dynamic flows, growing in size and functionality. </li></ul><ul><li>„ Web 2.0“ is a global open public loosely coupled to nation states with more thatn 1.4 billion participants. Discursive public, open space for formation of social movements, highly differentiated into sub-publics. </li></ul><ul><li>„ Web 2.0“ is a global world of knowledge in forms of content, code and meta-data ready for distribution, remix and recombination. </li></ul><ul><li>„ Web 2.0“ is a business-model building on user generated content, digital footprints, relational information, metadata. </li></ul><ul><li>Global collaborative project deeply rooted in capitalism </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2. Conceptualizing trust online <ul><li>We discuss trust as </li></ul><ul><li>… an ongoing process </li></ul><ul><li>… reaching far beyond technological interfaces alone </li></ul><ul><li>… a matter of real people in various social roles </li></ul><ul><li>… a matter of reason, routine and reflexivity </li></ul><ul><li>… where people make the „leap of faith“ that a critical situation will be positively resolved </li></ul><ul><li>… thereby maintaining a state of positive expectations </li></ul><ul><li>… towards the actions and expectations of other people (significant other) and online public (generalized other) </li></ul>
  5. 5. 3. Social Relations, Reputation, Identity <ul><li>Social Relations : Interpersonal relations, friends & contacts on social networking sites, Hyperlink relations across websites, blogs and SNS create/subsitute widespread network of interaction relations for people, groups, organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation : Reputation refers to recognition and is closely connected to influence circulating in social systems just like money, power and value commitments; influence refers to the capability of an actor to create consensus. </li></ul><ul><li>Identity : Identity refers to the capability of an actor to establish and maintain a strong coherent definition of himself across unit acts and expressions. Coherent identity contributes to autonomy and authenticity. </li></ul>
  6. 6. 4. Preconditions <ul><li>If trust was unproblematic, anyone could go online and „manage“ social relations, „control“ his or her reputation and identity online. But naive trust can turn out to be dangerous in practice. </li></ul><ul><li>So, why is trust online problematic?! </li></ul>
  7. 7. 4. Preconditions <ul><li>Actors : There must be a trust giver and a trust taker. Actors can be active internet users (produsers), providers (companies), developers (software producers), communities or the general online public. [Problem: actors can often not be identified, found and held accountable for their action.] </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations : All parties expect something positive – friends/contacts, support, advice, help/feedback, functionality, practicalities, improved reputation, gains in autonomy & authenticity. </li></ul><ul><li>Vulnerablity : Actors might suffer deception and violation. They might lose money, time, friends, reputation, autonomy, self-esteem, jobs, economic value. </li></ul>
  8. 8. 4. Preconditions <ul><li>Uncertainty : No matter how „perfect“ a technology is designed, how „perfect“ incentives for trustworthy behavior on a provider, how sophisticated rules, and roles or how intensive monitoring & surveillance activities, uncertainty does not vanish. </li></ul><ul><li>Agency : Nobody would go online and ask for deception and violation. Produsers, Providers, developers go online and maintain positive expectationsö </li></ul><ul><li>(Double) Embeddedness : Trust relations are embedded online into formal & informal rules, roles, routines and processes. But trust relations are also embedded offline into institutions and functional systems of nation states [IP adress relates to geographical information]. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Provider A Provider B User A User B 5. Interorganizational & interpersonal trust online Developer A Developer B Source: Möllering 2006 + supplements General online public
  10. 10. Source: Möllering 2006 + supplements 5. Three levels of trust online [Embeddness into offline world at all three levels] actor Individual/ Interaction level actor structure Organizational level structure … Institutional level
  11. 11. 5. “Trust wheel” <ul><li>Rational Decision </li></ul><ul><li>Uses/Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Interests </li></ul><ul><li>Reliance on indicators of trustworthiness </li></ul><ul><li>Routinemodell </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Every day life taken for granted trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural attitude, isomorphism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutions (rules, roles, routines, process) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems trust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Aufhebung der Spannung! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ As if’ trust suspending a critical situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Bracketing’ situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>create fiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make ‘Leap of faith’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reflexivität </li></ul><ul><li>Trust is a social process </li></ul><ul><li>Trust is matter of learning </li></ul><ul><li>From ‘naive’ to ‘active’ trust </li></ul><ul><li>Trust involves familiarization and structuration </li></ul>Quelle: Möllering 2006
  12. 12. 6. Applying the framework <ul><li>Reason : Trust giver bets in trustworthiness of trust taker (significant/generalized other), offers wide action frame of reference to trust take beased on utility, benefits, interests. Yet, trust giver needs to rely on indicators of trustworthiness: competencies, benevolence, integrity. Example: Decision to blog, SNS profile, Twitter, OpenID. </li></ul><ul><li>Routine : Taken-forg-granted attitude of everyday life. Isomorphism that everybody follows first movers. Institutions (rules, roles, routines, processes) help establish trust: e.g. friendly tone, inviting atmosphere. Example: Spontaneous disclosure of information & opinion. </li></ul>
  13. 13. 6. Applying the framework <ul><li>Reflexivity : Process view. Trust is matter of learning and reflexivity moving from ‚naive‘ trust toward ‚active‘ trust. Trust giver and trust taker have ongoing exchange of information, reflect action. Examples: Gain experience step-by-step, ego-Googling, monitor reputation, exchange in user forums and with friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Leap of faith : Suspend critical situation by creating the fiction that complex online identity will pay out. Put possibility of failure aside and create fiction of success. Example: create blog, upload content, establish reputation, add functions, use identity related platforms and technologies. </li></ul>
  14. 14. 6. Applying the framework <ul><li>Experience : Experience strong emotional tension unless critical situation is positively resolved. In networking, reputation and identity management, tension is a life long experience. Positive example: support, help, advice, feedback, friend request. Negative: remove documents („Internet forgets nothing“), upload of negative content, deception, damage. </li></ul><ul><li>Enacting : Contribute to create internet of trust by engaging in trust online, trust make trust possible for other people and internet public in general. Example: Set up complex online identity, create inviting atmosphere, define rules, roles, routines and processes on your own website, address online public directly. </li></ul>
  15. 15. 3. Wie man Vertrauen online erforschen kann What uses, what signals of trustworthiness? What constitutes good practice? How do you establish online identity, monitor reputation? How suspend vulnerability, uncertainty? How do you experience the tension of trust? How do people make trust possible through participation in online social life? Source: Möllering 2006 Enacting Experience Leap of faith Reflexivity Routine Reason Example Questions Elements
  16. 16. 4. Vertrauen online erforschen? <ul><li>Online survey [invite participants/self recruiting] </li></ul><ul><li>Experimental design [offer situation where users must trust] </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative expert interviews [z.B. face to face, telephone, skype] </li></ul><ul><li>Case study methodology [z.B. Online Survey, participatory observation] </li></ul><ul><li>Weblog or online forum [Present project, invite feedback] </li></ul><ul><li>Barcamp [Open invitation, presentations, group discussions, qualitative interview] </li></ul><ul><li>Goal: methodology 2.0 that practices trust online as suggested and allows dense description of trust related practice </li></ul>
  17. 17. Thank you for your attention! This content is licenced with a CC-BY-NC-SA licence following German Law