Working With Trust

Here at Techstars one of the most emphasized concepts is to always work from an implied position of trust.  This makes a lot of sense in an organization that thrives on fostering an open dialogue between startups and mentors. Brad Feld had a great post on this a while ago called Why Most VC’s Don’t Sign NDA’s (He also referenced it in a more Recent Post).

Although Brad’s thoughts and the Techstars approach may seem to be very startup centric, I think they touch on a broad trend that has been catalyzed by the adoption of social media.  One critical aspect of the social media revolution is that for the first time, mass amounts of people are sharing their intimate, accurate personal data online.  I think this is an overlooked consequence of the shift from a model of the web which emphasized anonymity.  Just compare the chatrooms and forums of the early internet with the pattern of interaction that occurs on Quora or even Twitter.

At the core of this change is the fact that people are now much less protective of their personal information and data.  This transition is often criticized by privacy advocates, but I see much more to be gained from the trend.  Of course, people still need to be aware of what they shouldn’t be sharing online (financial data, home address, etc), but those concerns should not prevent people from crafting accurate, intimate representations of themselves in the social space.

So how does this all circle around to the idea of working with trust?  As i’m sitting here writing this, a friend just shared a one line business concept on Twitter, seeking feedback from his followers.  A few minutes ago, I shared a link to a story about Uber with a friend who is attempting to build a company to provide late night rides to college students in Raleigh, NC.  Both of these posts can be viewed and shared by thousands of people… and we know that.  We also know that the internet is most powerful when ideas are shared freely and openly between people all over the world.  If someone in South America happens to be passionate about an idea I am considering, I want them to have access to that idea.  Maybe it will lead to a dialogue, or maybe they will even go on to start their own version of what I am considering- either way, the world ends up “richer” in the broad sense of the word.

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