Trust, and the Wizard of Oz
I’ve been spending some time learning more about the sharing economy and some of its players. As an angel investor accustomed to clearly defined problems, grand solutions and natural revenue models, it seems like the beginning of the story. Kinda like a lot of people showing up in munchkin land- somewhat disoriented, terribly excited, not sure of the path forward.
Dorothy was pioneer when it came to couchsurfing (wimdu perhaps?), but she woke up in a terribly different world. She had to make snap judgments about people, and she had very little context to help (The Good Witch of the North notwithstanding). She was taking very real risks with herself, her dog, and her ruby slippers. But she had to rely on her wits: no help from web 2.0 and social media to help her make big decisions on risk (one of the great segues of all time folks).
Nowadays, there are more ways to make an assessment about people. People vouch for each other on sites like LinkedIn, Honestly, and Connect.me. People accumulate likes and helpfuls from sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook and Yelp. And some products go further, combining those elements plus offline verification to develop multi-layers scores, like TrustCloud (I’m an investor). Through all these inputs, we have begun to infer things about people based on their actual behavior over time. Here’s how a well-designed trust solution might have helped with her key judgments:
1. The Scarecrow- great domain expertise and happy to assist. Probably a contributor to Yelp or TripAdvisor and frequently tagged helpful.
2. The TinMan- experienced and analytical, probably has people vouching for him like the static inputs of Honestly and Connect me
3. The Lion- I have this guy tagged as a reputation guy. Very proud and looking to clean up what people think of him. Uses Reputation.com a lot.
4. The Wizard- He’s all about influence, which means he spends most of this time on klout.
5. Dorothy- a teambuilder and leader. Probably destined for LinkedIn. But having trouble verifying place of residence!
The point is (and I have taken a veritable yellow brick road to get there) that we no longer live in Oz. There is real, relevant data out there that when properly gathered, weighted, and presented can really help the sharing economy navigate their challenges. (Here’s a great blog from Charles Greene on Trust). But no single point of reference and no rigid formula will serve the Trust needs of every community, let alone every situation.
This is a challenge and a journey that requires multiple layers, great heuristics, and the power of the network effect. (which is one super reason for all these layers to work together). I look forward to watching how this evolves, and who gets to the Emerald City first.