Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Trust thy Internet neighbor | CNET News.com

Trust thy Internet neighbor | CNET News.com

Interesting recap article about networks of trust on the internet

In 1999 I co-founded efavorites one of the earliest internet based systems for combining user generated content with most of the aspects and functionality of what is now known as social networking to create networks of trust. The content was called favorites (people, places, and things) and postings were to a structured taxonomy and seachable database.

Later we built systems which allowed reveiws, recommendations, and ratings to be"bolted on" to the existing online catalogs of our customers through a pioneering (at the time) real time publishing system based on XML, EJB, and J2EE. Content was not only associated with specific items but also specifc people whose collection of content associated with items became a profile. Thus, the user could easily navigate from the item review or recommendations to the author's other content to evaluate its relevance and trustworthiness to the user

In a nutshell we are most often known and can be evaluated by what we like and who we associate with-Are they like me and can their advice be trusted?

We found that an 80/20 rule applied to active contribution of new content. 80% of the content was written by less than 20% of the users. A smaller number were the active networkers connecting friends to each other and the content. This distribution is not suprising given the theories of Malcolm Gladwell and others in The Tipping Point who identified certain personality types as naturally sharing and passionate guru types, often with multiple areas of interest and others as having vast networks of often fairly superficial connections.

Blogs, reviews, recommendations, and social networking profiles can offer businesses wonderful tools to not only connect with customers, discover emerging niches (see my post on the Long Tail) but also serve as vehicles to present their own brands' in-house and customer gurus expertise in a near real time, personalized and trustworthy fashion for public or even internal (customer service and product development) purposes.

See also the articles from trendwatching.com on which covers in detail how consumers are seeking their own Twinsumer via the web to help them make decisions.