Trust No/Every One

September 11th, 2007 4 Comments

circle-of-trust.gifA couple recent nuggets reminded me of Paul’s post on trust and underlined the reasons why Web 2.0 can never be Enterprise 2.0. With Connect, we’ve come upon a new (at least to us) dimension of the social network, i.e. the explicit trust created by working together. Paul says:

When we inject trust into the equation. It’s altogether different. I have an implied social network I live and breath within at Oracle. They are not only important to me, but I to them. It’s an inseparable part of getting things done, and the power of social networks is that the relationships become explicit and the content is relevant.

Way back in February 2004, Facebook started with the same goal, to create a trusted network, not of coworkers like Connect, but of college students. They accomplished this by limiting the schools that were included and restricting users to only those people with active email accounts on the domains of these schools.

The whole idea was to protect members from the anarchy of MySpace: the trolls, the spam, the advertising, the bogus profiles, the flashing lights and music, etc. Then, “thefacebook” got really popular, and Zuckerberg and his VCs began to make business decisions that ultimately compromised integrity of the social network; they allowed high school students to join, they opened up to businesses, and finally, they flung open the doors to the unwashed masses.

Fast forward to now when social networks are finding their way inside the firewall. We’ve found a lot of people join Connect simply because it’s a trusted network; they won’t join LinkedIn or Facebook because they don’t trust these sites, but they do want to take a dip in the social networking pool.

Social networks like Facebook have become victims of their own success in a way because now that anyone can join and use the network for whatever they wish, people want security controls and network segmentation. One of the main knocks on Facebook is that its too open for business to use, ironic for a social “utility” that began life as a closed network, which was it’s primary allure.

So now, Enterprise New Web (you heard it here first) has a leg up on its flashier sibling Consumer New Web because it has an explicit trust level. What’s really weird is to see the odd offspring networks that have sprung up recently focused on “trust”, i.e. keeping out the trolls.

Loads of niche targeted networks have popped up lately claiming to put you in the network you want (i.e. trust) with other people just like you. Oh yeah, and your friends, and their friends, etc. These ridiculous examples caught my eye:

  1. ASmallWorld.net: Covered by the NYT, this site is an invite only network for super rich snobs.
  2. Diamond Lounge: Not to be outdone by aSmallWorld, Diamond Lounge is the exact same business model.
  3. ModelsHotel: Covered by TechCrunch today, this network boasts membership in the thousands.

The message is clear. Trust in the consumer world isn’t trust at all. It’s ads. The people who belong to these types networks are lured in by promises of trust, i.e. the other members are like you and therefore you can trust them (sounds even funnier on paper), when in reality, the network’s main purpose is to sell targeted advertising to pitch to you. In other words, by joining, you are taking a survey that says what you are likely to buy.

Interwebs 2.0 = ads, ads and more ads

What broke the circle of trust for consumer social networks? The need to make money. This is why social networks inside the firewall are turning out to be the purest form of social networking; there isn’t a need to monetize them so they can leverage the trust that’s explicit inside the firewall.

Finally, a win for the stodgy old enterprise web over the flashy consumer web.


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4 Responses to “Trust No/Every One”

  1. Meg Says:

    wow — great observation. Does begin to feel a bit like a lab experiment where we are the rats…

  2. Meg Says:

    wow — great observation. Does begin to feel a bit like a lab experiment where we are the rats…

  3. Jake Says:

    Meg: The sad part is that ads are a viable Interwebs business model. Personally, I ignore any and all ads, unless they really annoy me, in which case, I’m not likely to go back to the offending site.

    We have an interesting experiment going internally because (for now) it’s free from expectations, so we can treat it as a pure, controlled exercise.

    Let’s hope that lasts.
    Jake

  4. Jake Says:

    Meg: The sad part is that ads are a viable Interwebs business model. Personally, I ignore any and all ads, unless they really annoy me, in which case, I’m not likely to go back to the offending site.

    We have an interesting experiment going internally because (for now) it’s free from expectations, so we can treat it as a pure, controlled exercise.

    Let’s hope that lasts.
    Jake

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