Alex Genov

User Research and Innovation, SOFTWARE INDUSTRY

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Debate: Rachel Botsman's "currency of trust" in an online world.

Just listened to Rachel Botsman's fascinating talk ... In it, Rachel puts forth really great points and delivers them in a convincing and passionate way! I am on board with the general idea, but here are a few thoughts and questions I have:

- Very valid main idea, but taken to an extreme - not everything in the economy will hinge on trust; the new currency will be some sort of currency, not trust :) I guess you have to put forth an extreme version of an idea to create a movement; I get that!

- In the areas of the economy where trust is the MOST important like when transacting with medical doctors, lawyers, college professors, car mechanics and so on - these are all fiduciary relationships based mostly on the client's trust that what the expert says is true - there are almost NO ratings available!!! These are transactions that costs LOTS of money and even lives, YET there are hardly any ratings or reviews.

You can go to and find 3000 reviews for a toaster, but you go to find any reviews for a particular doctor online and you would be lucky to find 3 ...

Why is that? Rachel's whole premise depends on the willingness of people to rate and review others. I am not sure that that is a natural human behavior beyond a small circle of friends or the village :)


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    Oct 21 2012: Jeff, this sounds like "turn the other cheek" argument. Not sure if that's how things work out there in the world. I wish they worked like that - would be a much better world :)
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    Oct 21 2012: You hit the nail on the head, John! That's why I believe that Rachel has a great idea and a great mission, but I am wondering about how this will happen in practical terms ...
  • Oct 21 2012: Alex, The point being made in the video clip , is that trustworthiness derives from trust. By trusting others, even when trust is betrayed, we will propagate trust. "He who does not trust enough will not be trusted"
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    Oct 20 2012: I think your ideas are applicable Alex. Trust, Like lying, is a human trait we are forced to indulge in from time to time. I believe most people don't trust anyone to control their personal environment unless they lack the resources to do it themselves. Given the resources, they fall back on their natural instinct to control their sphere of the greater world. It's just the way people are, and have always been.

    I think the greatest rating system ever erected is the ability to sue your doctor or medical care provider. If they ever take that away, we are truly stuck in the mud. The idea of "The People", lacking proper education and the ability to exercise that education, can control their environment and government with individual ratings systems is idealism. In the first place, the government will never let go of their control without a major revolutionary event. That is the reality of our social structure in almost any country. It takes major direct action by the general population to change any thing having to do with central control over peoples opinions and activities.
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      Oct 21 2012: John, you are making some really good points. Usually lawsuits are one way to respond in cases where trust has been broken. A good system of online trustworthiness ratings and service reviews would be a way to prevent this in the first place.

      If you could go online and check out a doctor and saw that 1000 people rated them as dishonest or shady, you would not go and, in time, that doctor would be out of business. Same would go for car mechanics and so on.

      Only if consumers have this information about their service providers, would we have a true market economy.
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        Oct 21 2012: I have a doctor I checked out on such sites and he got a couple of bad ratings by patients but I'd give him a 10 out of 10 and most of the patients I've talked to in the waiting room like him. He's a great guy in addition to being great doctor.

        I just don't "trust" the "truthfulness " of those site. There is no way to regulate them. The ones that are trustworthy, charge money to access the site, like some of the consumer sites.

        It's a good idea but not many have a good validation system in place. You could acutally get money from the doctor to take his name off your site which would make it kinda like blackmail, if you catch my drift. :)
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    Gail .

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    Oct 20 2012: I disagree that the new currency will be money (or barter). Therefore, I saw Rachel's talk in a different light, and take the trust issue to its common denominator - neighbor helping neighbor.
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      Oct 20 2012: Neighbor helping neighbor is a good thing and is hard-wired in our psyche. Social Psychologists have documented the reciprocity and the altruism mechanisms very extensively. I do not doubt that. I question the assertion that this can be extended globally, beyond your neighbor's fence.

      Just because technology has advanced and lets us do things, does not mean that we are inclined to do those things. The issue is scalability.
  • Oct 20 2012: Alex, There is a Tao perspective on trust. One must trust to be trusted

    I can offer a personal perpective of engaging trust online to tackle poverty
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      Oct 20 2012: I liked you post, Jeff! I see "trust" as a different issue from "trustworthiness".