Tag Archives: trust

Negativity: not shown, not present

From an old paper of mine, note the message by eBay founder.

In fact, Resnick and Zeckhauser (2002) consider two explanations related to the success of eBay’s feedback system:
(1) “The system may still work, even if it is unreliable or unsound, if its participants think it is working. (…) It is the perception of how the system operates, not the facts, that matters” and
(2) “Even though the system may not work well in the statistical tabulation sense, it may function successfully if it swiftly turns against undesirable sellers (…), and if it imposes costs for a seller to get established.”
They also argue that: “on the other hand, making dissatisfaction more visible might destroy people’s overall faith in eBay as a generally safe marketplace.”

This seems confirmed by a message posted on eBay by its founder in 1996:
“Most people are honest. And they mean well. Some people go out of their way to make things right. I’ve heard great stories about the honesty of people here. But some people are dishonest: or deceptive. This is true here, in the newsgroups, in the classifieds, and right next door. It’s a fact of life. But here, those people can’t hide. We’ll drive them away. Protect others from them. This grand hope depends on your active participation” (Omidyar, 1996).

On eBay, whose goal, after all, is to allow a large number of commercial transactions to happen, it seems that positive feelings and perceptions can create a successful and active community more than a sound Trust Metric and reputation system. This means that the fact that a Trust Metric or reputation system is proved to be attack resistant does not have
an immediate effect on how users perceive it and hence, on how this helps in keeping the community healthy and working.

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My chapter in “Computing with Social Trust”

Computing with Social TrustThe book “Computing with Social Trust” is out. In it you can find a chapter by Paolo Avesani and myself about my PhD work on Trust in Recommender Systems. You can download my chapter or buy the dead-tree book from Amazon. Following you can find the Table of contents. Enjoy!


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First International Conference on Reputation: Theory and Technology – 18-20 March, 2009 – Gargonza, Italy.

1st International Conference on Reputation: Theory and Technology – ICORE 2009 aims to become a point of convergence in the multidisciplinary study of reputation.
It will be held in Gargonza Castle, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany, halfway between Siena and Arezzo, March 18-20, 2009

The role of reputation as a social artefact and its practical applications are coming more and more clearly to the attention of the scientific community. The study of reputation and gossip is important in many fields of the social sciences, for example organization science, policy-making, (e-)governance, cultural evolution, social dilemmas, socio-dynamics and sociobiology. Interest in reputation is increasing in philosophy, psychology, social psychology, sociology and cognitive science; formal models appear in game theoretical, mathematical and physics journals; computational reputation systems are among the most studied subjects in multi-agent technology and social simulations.

All this attention is timely, since reputation is an old concept for answering a new challenge, the regulation of complex, global, networked societies. Innovation demands that the potential of old instruments are fully understood and exploited, in order to be incorporated into novel, intelligent technologies.

However, there is a number of ad hoc models, and little integration of instruments for the implementation, management and optimisation of reputation. On the one hand, entrepreneurs and policy makers deem it possible to manage corporate and firm reputation without accessing a solid, general and integrated body of scientific knowledge on the subject. On the other hand, researchers believe they can discuss, design and implement reputation systems without investigating what properties, requirements and dynamics of reputation in natural societies are, and why they evolved.

Reputation deserves a full role as a scientific topic, a focus on its specificities, i.e., its potential as preventive social knowledge and selective mechanism of transmission.

We invite papers from all scientific communities working on reputation, including multi-agent systems, social simulation, economics, organisation science and management, e-governance/learning/business, virtual societies and markets, social cognition, (evolutionary) game theory, social psychology, sociology, social and collective dilemmas, social dynamics, cultural evolution and business ethics.

Topics for ICORE 2009 include but are not limited to:

* Theory of reputation
* Simulation of reputation
* Computational models of reputation
* Agent reputation models
* Ontologies of reputation
* Logical formalization of reputation
* Experimental evidence of reputation diffusion
* Reputation-based e-government, e-learning, e-business
* Reputation in p2p systems
* Reputation in grid environments
* Reputation for partner selection
* Incentives in Reputation Mechanisms
* Image and reputation
* Reputation management and optimisation
* Reputation and social networks
* Reputation and norms
* Reputation and altruism, reciprocity, and cooperation
* Reputation and trust
* Reputation for sabotage tolerance in large-scale applications
* Reputation and exchange
* Reputation and institutions
* Reputation and social capital
* Corporate and firm reputation

Submission instructions

Electronic submission will be added later to this website.

All submissions should be no longer than 15 pages, in pdf format.
Review criteria

Papers should present novel ideas related to reputation, clearly motivated by problems from current practice or applied research.
We expect claims to be substantiated by theoretical or formal analysis, experimental evaluations, comparative studies, and so on. Authors are also encouraged to submit application papers. Application papers are expected to address an indication of the real world relevance of the problem that is solved, including a description of the deployment domain, and some form of evaluation of performance, usability, or superiority to alternative approaches.
Important dates

* Abstract submission: September 15, 2008
* Paper submission: October 1st, 2008
* Notification: November 10, 2008
* Camera Ready Version of Accepted Papers: December 10, 2008
* Conference: March 18-20, 2009


The conference is organized with the support of the eRep project under the 6th FP of the European Community.

The trust is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed, or quotes and shoulders

In the future everyone will be famous for 15 persons

(myself on the shoulder of giant Andy Warhol: In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes“)


The trust is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed

(myself on the shoulder of William Gibson: The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed)

or some quotes from Trust in Peers Trumps the “A-List,” Study Finds by Steve Rubel:

Mediapost reports that a new study from Pollara found that people who engage in social networks and communities put far more trust in friends and family who are online than in popular bloggers, or strangers with 10,000 MySpace “friends.”

Some 58% of opinion elites 35-64 in 18 countries said they trust “a person like me.”

The question of targeting super nodes vs. smaller groups is all coming down to trust. While the marketplace – both marketers and publishers – continue to focus on reach, they are missing the big picture. Trust is by far a more important metric, one that clearly rules when it comes to influence.

The baseline argument is the following.
In the previous era of mass-media, each one of us was “forced” to trust the few of us who had a voice. And this created the Britney Spearses and the Paris Hiltons.
In the current era of easy self web publishing, each of us can choose whom to trust among the many of us who have a voice. And be sure my friend the 15 persons peers I choose to trust are already (and will be even more) different from the 15 persons peers you choose to trust. No more Britnear Spearses in the future, but just your own one.
Simply put, trust is now distributed.

And yes, in case you are wondering, I do believe in the future each of us will stay on the shoulders of dwarves, thousands of dwarves instead of few giants.

My first paper published under Creative Commons!

Page-reRank: Using Trust to Re-Rank Authority
Time ago I received the request to republish one of my paper in the book “Internet Search Engines – An Introduction“. So I took the chance to extend my paper “Page-reRank: using trusted links to re-rank authority” from 4 to 10 pages and cordially give permission to include it in the book.
The publisher is ICFAI University Press which of course is not Oxford Press; it is an publisher for Indian Universities and in fact after publishing I received few emails from Indian students.
Anyway what I’m more proud of is that I have a Creative Commons released paper published on a book! When they asked me to publish it, I put this as condition and they said “yes”. Since I tried many other times to amend the copyright form publishers ask you to sign before publication (in general it basically says “you give us all the rights”) with something a bit more liberal such as a Creative Commons license, I’m very happy about this, about the license.
Page-reRank: Using Trust to Re-Rank AuthorityThe license is a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License so you can legally do whatever you want with the paper as long as you cite me and share what you produce with the same license.
Anyway in the book I’m in good company: there is also a paper by Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Research “Using PageRank to Characterize Web Structure” and one by Ricardo Baeza-Yates, director of Yahoo! Research labs at Barcelona “Pagerank Increase under Different Collusion Topologies”.
This post is also an excuse for starting my blog on Nature.

Following there is the summary of my paper as it appears on the book, but you can also download the paper from my site.

The tenth article titled “Page-reRank: Using Trusted Links to Re-rank Authority” by Paolo Massa, highlights that the present HTML linking mechanism does not allow the author of a web page to express the endorsements of its content. Consequently, algorithms like PageRank produce rankings that do not capture the different intentions of web authors. The authors explore the possibility of adding simple semantic extensions to the hyper linking mechanism, by using a large real world data set and demonstrate the different page rankings produced by considering extra semantic information in page links. The paper concludes that by adopting (programming) languages that allow authors easily encode simple semantic extensions to their hyperlinks, the web (or search) intelligence can be optimized to pull relevant pages for a given search query.

Making money from money: is this a needed feature of our society?

Ripple is an attempt to (re)design society: our interactions will no more based on the fact we all agree money (generated by banks and governments) exist but on how much we trust other people. Each participant indicates which other participants he or she trusts, by offering to accept their IOUs up to a certain amount, like a line of credit: your peers become the generators of currency. In short, Ripple lets everyone act like a bank.

Now, in such a society, is interest needed? Do we want to implement as a feature of the system the fact you can make money from money? This was the question posed in the Ripple-users mailing list.

The answer by Daniel Reeves is illuminating. I copy a portion of it below but I suggest you to read the entire thread, it is really worth your minutes.

There was some google video circulating a while back that started out very informative and then spun off into batshit insanity, claiming that it’s mathematically impossible to pay off debts with compound interest, etc..
A thought experiment that has helped me is to pretend there is no money and just look at movement of wealth. Remember the distinction: wealth is the actual stuff we want, money is just a way to transfer it. So the question “how can I repay a loan with interest; where does the extra money come from?” becomes “how can someone give back more wealth than they were loaned; where does the extra wealth come from?”.
Well that’s easy to answer. The same place all wealth comes from: people make it. They build things, do work, cough up valuable property.

Say you have a beautiful painting (= wealth) that I want and I have nothing to offer you for it except the promise to return it to you later. That’s a big favor I’m asking you. To keep things fair, I might offer you a small thing of my own in return (say, doing your dishes). So there you have it, I borrowed the painting and paid it back, plus interest (doing your dishes). Everyone’s happy.

It really is, fundamentally, as simple as that.

And, by the way, there’s nothing magical or mathematically insidious about compound interest either. In fact, the concept is already implicit in this “extra favor” conception of interest.

Social graph portability with a simple rel=”me”

Brad Fitzpatrick’s Thoughts on the Social Graph few weeks ago ignited a spark in the blogosphere. The quest for a simple, neutral protocol for portability of your data (and relationships) and identity management is nothing new. Brad is able to explain the need clearly and he got a lot of attention because he is highly respected for having created very useful Free Software, for example LiveJournal software, and this is good. The mailing list he started for discussing this attracted a lot of minds in few days. Brad puts it like this:

There are an increasing number of new “social applications” as well as traditional application which either require the “social graph” or that could provide better value to users by utilizing information in the social graph. What I mean by “social graph” is a the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related, as Wikipedia describes and I talk about in more detail later. Unfortunately, there doesn’t exist a single social graph (or even multiple which interoperate) that’s comprehensive and decentralized. Rather, there exists hundreds of disperse social graphs, most of dubious quality and many of them walled gardens.

On the mailing list there were thousands of good comments and presentations of services. The one I’m linking here is Plaxo Online Identity Consolidator

At Plaxo, we believe strongly that users should have ownership, control, and portability of their profiles and friends list. No service you use should claim your data as their own and keep it trapped in their “walled garden”. We will continue to publish tools and articles here and on our blog to empower users and support a truly open social web.
An important aspect of the open social graph is being able to declare the different sites you use and tie them together. The easiest way to tell people—and computers—about the sites you use is to link from your home page, blog, and profile pages to the other sites you use. If you add rel=”me” to the link tag, it says “this is another site about me”. Many sites already do this, and services like wordpress make it easy to annotate your links like this.
Plaxo’s Online Identity Consolidator—which you can use here or download the source code and use yourself—starts with one of your web sites and crawls all the rel=”me” links to find the other web pages you want people to know about.

See how the Online Identity Consolidator works on my identity page (gnuband.org/about). All of this is made possible by a simple rel="me" added to the HTML link tag. But as usual the hard part is getting adoption …

Well, maybe the title is misleading, I’m not claiming that rel=”me” solves all the problems, simply that it is a simple idea with a lot of powerful and this is the correct road.

Also check A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web and the social network portability page collectively kept on the microformats wiki (microformats rock!)

Linus Torvald is convinced version control should be based on trust networks

Thanks to Jesse, I started exploring Git, a version control system alternative to CVS and SVN. Git is based on a very different metaphor. While in CVS/SVN there is one repository which is maintained in a single location, in Git there are as many repositories as users and all of them are maintained in a decentralized fashion, on all the machines of all the users. From centralization to decentralization, it is an interesting twist and change in perspective.
And so what about the risk of balkanization of code? And the fact that there are 10.000 (different) versions of the Linux kernel? Well, according to Linus, the answer is trust. Linus explains the metaphores behind git and the trust issues in an extremely interesting Google Talk.

From the talk of Linux (via Victor):

The way merging is done is the way real security is done, by a network of trust. if you have ever done any security work and it didn’t involve the concept of network of trust it was not a security work; it was a masturbation.
…we don’t know hundred people. We have five, seven, ten close personal friends…

This way of managing a software ecology is wonderfully adhocratic. There are now thousands different versions of the Linux kernel. Currently most of the people rely on Linus’ version but it is possible, in a perfect adhocratic way, that different people will rely on versions of different people. Go decentralized, go trust-based. Cool.

Northern Rock bank crash: what happens when trust ends?

Telegraph’s article “Restoring the savers’ trust” (about UK bank Northern Rock huge credit problems, see below for the story) is extremely interesting to read.

Investors can make happen what they least want to happen. The viability of any bank is dependent on the confidence of the people who trust it with their money. When that confidence goes, there is a run on the bank, and the bank fails. If the contagion spreads from one bank to others, then the system itself becomes liable to collapse, with catastrophic economic consequences for everyone. That is what happened in America in 1929.

First the story, as usual from Wikipedia (the article is of course currently under wikirage)

On 13 September 2007, Northern Rock asked the Bank of England, as lender of last resort in the United Kingdom, for emergency funds due to problems in raising funds in the money market. The problems arose from difficulties banks faced over the Summer 2007 in raising funds in the money markets, caused by the subprime crisis in the United States. The bank is solvent but has a liquidity problem because a large part of the bank’s assets are held in mortgages, and are not accessible quickly.
On 14 September, the first day branches opened following the news, many customers queued outside branches to withdraw their savings (a run on the bank). It was estimated that £1 billion was withdrawn by customers that day, about 5% of the total bank deposits held by the Northern Rock. In one incident, police were called to the branch in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire when two joint account holders barricaded the bank manager in her office after she refused to let them withdraw £1 million from their account. Their money was held in an internet only account, which became inaccessible after the Northern Rock website became inaccessible due to the volume of customers trying to log on
On 17 September, as worried savers continued to flock to some Northern Rock bank branches to withdraw their savings, it was reported that an estimated £2 billion had been withdrawn since the bank applied to the Bank of England for emergency funds. By early afternoon in London Northern Rock’s shares, which had lost 32% on the previous Friday, fell a further 40% from 438 pence to 263 pence.

Well, to put it shortly, money does not exist, it is a social creation, it exists as long as the large majority of people think it exists. But figure out this, what will happen if tomorrow all the people in the world will go to their banks to withdraw all their money in cash? Well, it is not hard to figure, that money does not exist so it will happen something interesting, and violent for sure.
Now, do I want that most of the people realize that money don’t exist? Well, I don’t know. Maybe yes, possibly in a slow, non emotive, rational way, just like all the people in the world have enough free time to reason and discuss on how the economics system works and how it could be changed (read ripple it). But this is unlikely to happen, probably what is more likely to happen is a big crash, caused by impulsive reactions like the ones are happening about Northern Rock. It would be easy to think like Cypher (in Matrix): You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.
Similarly, money doesn’t exist. But Ignorance is bliss. Lot of people prefer to remain “plugged” into the system.

I also suggest you to read the book “The Great Crash, 1929” by John Kenneth Galbraith (1954). It is an economic history of the lead-up to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. It is inspiring to read the declarations of authorities and politicians which become more and more unreal as the time passes. The worst the situation becomes, the more politicians insist on “There is no problem, everything is going well and this small second of crisis is already ended, tomorrow the economy starts to grow again, don’t be afraid”. Now of course politicians and economics authorities must say so, I would do the same if I were the chief of the central Bank or the Prime Minister but the fact we all know this means that nobody (really?) trusts their words and the more they say “there is nothing to worry about” the more people start to worry. There is an interesting comment by Stephen King (not the writer) on the Independent titled When reassuring words aren’t enough which compares the words spoken today by UK authorities and the words spoken in 1928 by US authorities. Check the differences if you wish.

Again, ripple might solve some of these problems (introducing new problems of course or shoud I say new opportunities?). Understanding how the economics (social) system works is something we all can no more postpone, I think.

Terrific slidecast about trust and reputation by Rentathing

By Rentathing. In a single slidecast, they explain clearly a possible and reasonable future society in which interactions are based on trust and reputation (someone would call it “whuffie”). And it even shows examples of ridesharing (letting other people benefit from your car) and couchsurfing (letting other people benefit from your house). A slidecast is worth thousands words.
UPDATE: As I was suggesting in the comments, read “Down and out in the magic kingdom” (Creative commons released so you can download it for free and much more) or just the Whuffie page in wikipedia: “Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow’s sci-fi novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.” BUT if you intend to read the book (suggested!!!), don’t read the wiki page!
And also check Ripple (really blowminding!) and its white paper “Money as IOUs in Social Trust Networks & A Proposal for a Decentralized Currency Network Protocol”.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.