Monday, July 6, 2009

Trust is the first and primary currency of the Internet.

Yesterday I spoke about how the Internet is a seemingly infinite source of content with very few limitations on the delivery of that content. Although I genuinely believe that the Internet has been a predominantly positive development for humanity, this new platform has also promoted certain, negative human characteristics. In particular, guarded skepticism seems to be more prevalent in our current cyber-society.

The same mechanisms that support a near-free and open flow of information also make massive scamming operations a nearly risk-free endeavor. Because of this, the sheer scale of false advertising, phishing, and many other forms of digital crime are extremely widespread. From Independence Day to the death of Michael Jackson, bad guys exploit every event to find an "in" and to create false trust. Even URL shorteners offer a weak-spot for those wishing to mislead.

The reality is that the Internet often feels like the Wild West. This environment nurtures a heightened level of skepticism. I've not clicked on passed links, downloaded certain files, or even opened online birthday cards for the fear of devastating digital repercussions. For every headline that I read about a new scam or a new virus, the walls of fear get a little larger and my choices become a little smaller.

So in this new Internet-economy, the first foundational commodity and vital resource is trust. A level of trust represents the bare minimum for any Internet-based affirmative decision. Trust is the primary currency that must be guarded, saved, and wisely utilized.
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