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June 14, 2013

Liars and Outliers - How can we create more instant trust networks?

As directed, I read the first chapter of Bruce Schneier's new book Liars and Outliers (unfortunate title, I thought it was a takedown of Malcolm Gladwell) immedately upon it's arrival and I'm already having thoughts about it.  

Schneier is talking about reputation systems and I think a genuine interest and desire for Wuffie (the person to person based reputation system described by Cory Doctorow in Down and Out in The Magic Kingdom).  But on the other hand, what Schneier is also saying is that mankind has been able to cooperate and succeed even though it lacks this reputation system.  The creation of social norms that promote a societal good seems to be acceptable to most people and thus we can trust them enough to work with them and develop a working relationship.  

This of course reminded me of Burning Man and how when people are focused on working together, magic will happen.  It's just assumed and a given that at Burning Man no one will mess with your stuff or you.  It's very unlikely to see  "bar fight" at Burning Man.  Everyone is willing to work together.  There is something about our transition from human in normal everyday capitalist society to participant in a desert survival gift economy that ads a certain instant trust value to people you've never met before.  

How do we create more of this valuable openness that can lead to instant cooperation?  How can people who are turned on and ready to create more of this trust help lead to more and more interconnected trust networks?  Can Facebook or another such corporate owned social network really connect people in a way they can trust to create these trust networks?  Can friend to friend connections connect the whole world and allow us to trust everybody?  Can we flip this negative worldview of humanity simply by explaining the natural trust networks that already exist between all humans?  Not sure if Schneier will answer these questions in his book, but I certainly hope to find out.  It seems he's probably going to explain how this societal trust network functions with the help of people who break negative societal norms and the determint of parasites who break the system.    

(if it gets lost in my massive unread book stack, I wanted to get at least this part of the review out, because I was really honored that he sent me a signed copy at a good price for me to review.  I really enjoyed reading his classic book Secrets & Lies and it really influenced my thinking about the human aspect of security and trust, and now he's back for more....)

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