Friday, 12 December 2008

No Trust

I've been reading various mentions of the new report by Forrester, that provides the following information on the sources that people trust. Or basically they show that there's no trust for blogs.

I held back on posting about this because I thought I was just being defensive. Surely there's more trust than that. Having just seen posts by Ken Allan and Manish Mohan about this issue, it got me thinking some more about this issue of No Trust of blogs as sources of information. So a couple of thoughts ...

Do you see what's at the top of the list? Email from people you know. The bottom line is that for most of us, we believe people we know (and likely already trust). I certainly feel that way. I ask people I know about things and that's what often gets me to finally act. This is why I talk about the importance of new skills for Leveraging Networks, Network Feedback, Finding Expertise, Using Social Media to Find Answers to Questions, Learning through Conversation.

But what's interesting about the survey is that there is a built in assumption that you don't know the blogger. If you asked me whether I would trust information provided by a blogger I didn't know, I likely would respond the same way. However, what I've found through blogging is that I get to know lots of people including maybe especially other bloggers. Thus, when I see them post, there's not this issue of no trust. It is someone I know. No the communication is not through email - but it's very similar. It acts just like that category. When Brent, Mark, Michele, etc. (wow, these folks are like Madonna and Sting - they only need one name) say in their blog - here's this great new tool and here is how it's working for me - that fits into the top category. It gets me to believe and possibly act. If I read it from a well known blogger who I don't have that relationship with, I don't trust it the same way. Funny thing, probably not very smart, but that's true.

This does mean that as a person who blogs you must be extra careful of the trust you are given. You have to be honest. You can't shill. Because most blogs are personal and real human relationships form - you must act in a way that never engenders the no trust factor.

That said, there are a quite a lot of people who come to my blog and who don't really know me, they don't have a personal relationship, we've not exchanges around 100 Conversations yet, ... And it's a bit depressing to realize that you rank behind direct mail and online classifieds in terms of trust. That they think of what they find here the same way I think about other bloggers who I don't know. It's another data point that I will eventually validate through people I do know. A little depressing, but at least it's a data point.

One last thought, how can people respond that they trust portals and search engines? Don't these often find blog posts? How can that be trusted? To me, a set of search results are the least trustworthy. Sure, I use them, but do I "trust the results" - no way - no trust here for those sources. Give me a fellow blogger (who I know) any day.

Am I being too defensive here?

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