Trust Networks


30 September 2003

“You really should listen to this guy”, said one of my friends, and so I went along and have a very interesting meeting with somebody I didn’t know. Very unremarkable, you may say. True as an event, but isn’t it interesting how trust can be transferred? I trusted my friend and therefore I was prepared to listen to the third party. In a sense, my trust was transferred to the other person through my friend.

It happens every day in our social interactions, but we are interested in how to build and sustain trust networks surrounding business platforms facilitated using electronic networks. This is a recent research topic and we would appreciate any comments or experiences that our readers may have.

The paper Trust Networks on the Semantic Web by Jennifer Golbeck, Bijan Parsia, and James Hendler is a reasonable introduction, covering a brief overview of the social background and then looking specifically at the Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) project.

Not mentioned is the Advogato trust metric though that is a particularly interesting implementation. The trust metric used in Advogato has a property not known in any previous trust metric: resistance to catastrophic failure in the face of a sufficiently massive attack.

Howard Rheingold in Smart Mobs (Amazon paid links US | UK) rightly highlights the issue and some of the social consequences, but does not attempt an answer.