Anne Adrian has an posts an excellent response to my posting this week on Trust and Web 2.0. I agree with much of what she has posted. Especially her statement:
Additionally, Web 2.0 can be used to maintain and build upon existing professional relationships. Let me give a personal example.
I see some of my colleagues from other states only 1 or 2 times a year. Social networking, blogging, commenting, Twittering, and instant messaging (and Facebook, to a much lesser degree) helped build upon the acquaintance of our relationships into a higher level of professional respect.
Now, when we see each other at conferences "we start in the middle of conversations." The respect and understanding of philosophies were not created through the face-to-face time, but rather through (online) casual and informal conversations and through blogging.
Without social networking--particularly, blogging and presence technologies--this would not have happened. On a few occasions, confidential remarks have been made in IM or email--mirroring how we communicate with our local trusted professional friends. Are any of these online friends my "Top 8" closest professional friends? Not yet, but I will not discount that from every happening.
Anne's post allowed me to see this issue from a different perspective. She did an excellent job of summarizing the issue. I agree that some low level trust may be developed with complete strangers using Web 2.0 tools. These types of social networks are useful in many ways, mostly in influencing through spread of knowledge. This trust may lead to behavior change in the sense of transactional change. For example, I might purchase a different type of golf club brand after reading a blog, or after noticing twitter postings by a significant golfer and his frustrations with one brand or another. All this is true, but it is equally true of all other forms of Web 1.0 technologies. Web 2.0 adds a bit of the reality TV quality to Web 1.0 in my view.. but that type of trust is very limiting. Where I still have grave questions is whether Web 2.0 technologies can lead to high trust communities.. Teams that we know from research will perform at three times the level of productivity of typical low trust community.
For clarity sake, my question is not intended to negate the many wonderful Web 2.0 positives. Web 2.0 technologies are enhancing productivity and enabling more collaboration than ever before, but at this time I do not see them creating high trust-performing social networks. And while these low trust social networks are an improvement to no social networks, they have much less potential than if one can discover how to build high trust within Web 2.0 social networks. Here is another question for you..
Think of a significant transformational change you observed in yourself or a close friend where someone influenced you to change. The key word is transformation.. a new way of living or working completely. Now, what level of trust did you have in this individual? Can you build this level of trust using Web 2.0 technologies? How?