A third member secretly watches to
make sure the first two do not communicate in any way, relying only on trust
to keep tragedy at bay.
Whom you trust, what you trust
them with, and how much you trust
them are at the center of the Internet
today, as well as every other aspect of
your technological life.
Here is an experiment to try. Take
walks in various mixed-use neighborhoods with a variety of residences and
businesses. Walk in the daytime, before and after lunch. Walk in the nighttime, at the height of the evening activities. Walk late at night, after most
things have shut down. With each out-ing, put yourself in a security mind-set—which is to say, look with the eyes
of a thief and notice what you see.
During the day, for example, at
busy sidewalk cafes, do people reserve
outdoor tables by placing their possessions on the table and then going
inside to order? Do they use their grocery bags for this? Their car and house
keys? Their wallets?
Late at night, are those same tables
and chairs stacked outside or inside?
Are they chained together? Are the
chains lightweight or substantial?
Do the neghborhood home have
porch furniture or lawn tools visible
from the street? Are they locked up?
Do you see bars on the windows of the
homes? Are the family cars parked outside? Do they have steering-wheel locks?
Do postal workers or delivery services leave packages unattended by
the front doors of houses? Are bundles of newspapers and magazines
left in front of newsstands before
These observations, and many
more, are flags for the implicit levels of trust that people have in their
neighbors and neighborhoods. The
people themselves may not even think
of these things. They may leave things
on their porches, perhaps accidentally, and nothing bad happens, so they
do not worry if it happens again. After
a while, it becomes something they do
not even notice they do.
IN HIS NOVEL The Diamond Age, 5 Neal Stephenson
describes a constructed society (called a phyle) based
on extreme trust in one’s fellow members. One of
the membership requirements is that, from time to
time, each member is called upon to undertake tasks
to reinforce that trust. For example, a phyle member
might be told to go to a particular location at the top
of a cliff at a specific time, where he will find bungee
cords with ankle harnesses attached. The other ends
of the cords trail off into the bushes. At the appointed
time he is to fasten the harnesses to his ankles and
jump off the cliff. He has to trust the unseen fellow
phyle member who was assigned the job of securing
the other end of the bungee to a stout tree actually did
his job; otherwise, he will plummet to his death.
Article development led by
You must have some trust
if you want to get anything done.
BY THOMAS WADLOW