This last week several articles came out regarding one of the collaborative economy's most popular keywords, trust. It's a massive piece of what it takes to be an active participant of the peer economy and now a hot topic of conversation.
Jason Tanz' recent Wired article "How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other" covers everything from interviews of Sharing Economy users to a history lesson on when America's started losing trust in each other in the first place (according to Tanz, sometime in the mid-19th Century).
Shortly after Tanz' article released, Christine Lagorio-Chafkin of Inc. published "Why Trust Is the Sharing Economy's Pipe Dream", which concluded that any sense of real, organic trust "still feels like a hologram".
A recent Wired cover story seemed poised to explore how companies in the sharing economy foster compassion, community, and trust, but it actually surfaced a more complex and compelling argument, one with which I agree: These companies actually have built quite a sturdy backbone of protections for users (certainly these fail from time-to-time, but they exist) that they've eliminated much of the need for that elusive trust by customers.
Lagoria-Chafkin goes on to quote Tanz's article who writes:
Indeed, for the time being the boundaries of the sharing economy are protected fairly rigidly. If you’ve ever been caught driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit, you can't rent a car on RelayRides. Aspiring Lyft drivers must pass a background and DMV check and get approved by a mentor, who judges applicants not just on driving ability but on personality. DogVacay hosts go through a five-step vetting process that includes training videos, quizzes, and a telephone interview.
She goes onto say:
In comparing the evolution of the modern marketplace economy to the explosion of institutional banking and insurance in the early 20th century, Tanz continues: "this new system acted as a trust proxy; it didn't require people to trust one another, because they could rely on a centralized system to protect their interests."
The digital marketplace as a trust proxy: Now this makes a lot more sense.
Both articles make interesting points. Read Jason Tanz's enttire article advocating trust here and Christine Lagorio-Chafkin's rebuttal here.
What do you think? Is the Sharing Economy based on real, organic, neighborly trust?