There has been a lot of talk in the social media and web 2.0 world about trust as the base currency of this new world (e.g. Trust Economies: Investigation into the New ROI of the Web). But where there is a currency there is also the possibility of bankruptcy.
The notion of social capital is not a new one. But it has taken on increased importance in this time of lightning fast communications.
A friend recently recounted a situation where they acted on the recommendation of a trusted associate and some key information was not provided regarding context. This left my friend feeling let down and telling this story to a wide audience.
My friend felt that the trust that had been given in taking the recommendation had been betrayed. And now, this person is sharing this experience that leads others to question the trustworthiness of that associate.
It all got me thinking about how trust is really a currency now. And with currencies you can build up either a credit or a debit.
In the past we used to exchange labour for money – labour and money were the vehicles of exchange and drove the economy. But now we are moving towards an economy in which trust is becoming a currency much as money has been up until now.
However, unlike money, trust is tied to many intangible things like reputation, behaviour, words and deeds.
That’s a fairly profound realisation! We take a lot of trouble to keep our money safe. It is interesting to consider what steps are necessary to keep our social capital as safe as we keep our financial capital.
In any case, it does look like we need to start taking the same care with our trustworthiness as with our trust in this new economy.