Trust me, I’m not a Dr.

Working with people online (that you may never really meet) is all about trust. The way trust is formed, either you believe the information you get is correct, because you choose to, or someone whose opinion you value says it’s good.  The interwebs are to a large degree a trust nexus.

While everyone goofs on online, posting, yelling, ranting and do all manner of narcissistic behaviours (Tweet, blog posts etc.,). It all comes down to trust.

If I tell you to click this link – and its absolutely brilliant – you will, only if you think I’m worth trusting.

If I sell you a line and don’t give you evidence …

“Kids spend almost the same amount of time playing games by the time they leave school as they do in school”

then you have to make a judgment call as to whether or not you value my opinion and resourceful regurgitation of that fact. Perhaps the one outstanding ‘fact’ of this decade is ‘digital natives’ – I simply don’t trust people who talk about that – nor people who jump on the next Wired bandwagon ahead of local journos, who are usually unable to install Digg themselves.

Data, is unreliable, the interwebs are unreliable – hell, we’re all unrealiable. We have to figure out who we trust in the metaverse, just as we did when we made friends in childhood. You can’t base trust on research either.

I love two phrases about research, both of which come from academics. “the great thing about standards — there are so many to choose from” and “if you draw enough circles, you can prove anything”.

“In tests, 8 out of 10 owners, said their cats preferred it”. But wait, back up — everyday, teachers repeat facts, give answers that match the text book and judge students not on their ability to to research or critically analyse or synthesise, but to memorise. Was there a war? Did the soldier really feel like that? How do I know? The student has no other option but to trust their teacher that what they are told is a) meaningful b) correct and c) important enough that they should remember it.

So if I have and iPhone and I Google that – and I disagree – it doesn’t mean some expert is going to change the text or the exam? No, owe learn to accept facts as being, well, unreliable. We rely on trust-networks to validate. And we do it instantly.

Right now, the internet tells me so much; that the people who’s opinions I trust are those directions I follow.

I don’t give a rats basket about how many followers you have, or what title you give yourself on TV, or when you bought your first friggin’ modem. Just for the record my first modem was just a pcb-hacked into a BBC micro. True? Who cares. You can be an ‘expert’ an ‘authority’ or whatever else you want to be. The real trick seems to be to get some journo to add you to their filofax and get you to support some facile point about xyz technology that ‘stumbled upon’.

If however you have a group of people who trust you enough to believe you, follow you and interact honestly with you. It’s an epic win over whatever was before. I read academic papers – as I believe that they are well researched and constructed on the whole. I don’t care about media-faces who are not visibly active in actually helping people in the network – which I see as digital-hubris. I learn more from one Tweet from a teacher in Sheffield a year than I’m going to learn by reading the endless drivel of TED wannabes.

Everyday – thousands of people build more meaningful trust and connections with people who actually do something – for them. Regugitating crap you read on Boing Boing or scraped off Twitter on the basis you once knew a woman who slept with Axle Rose – seriously. You’re having a laugh. I can appreciate the whole obsession with fame thing I guess – after all, this is the last bastion on media-sales – but … and heres fair and present warning – if you are NOT adding supporting and doing something for ordinary teachers – and just show up to collect your speakers fee. The back channel is going to own you.

It comes down to trust and monitising your ‘brand’. Its very hard to balance the two. Now please go and buy a 3D Television from Sony as I’ve owned several TVs in the past — which makes me an expert.


How do you determine trust on the interwebs?


5 thoughts on “Trust me, I’m not a Dr.

  1. Your post reminds a little of an ad that runs here in Adelaide for the RAA with the comedian George Kapiniaris who utters the catch phrase, “Trust! Who can ya?”
    I find that trust builds up time on the web – it develops over a sustained period of reading someone’s work, reading and conversing via comments, seeing where their masked agendas and sacred cows lurk and following their links back to their origins. My most trusted sources are ones willing to hear out my point of view or wonderings without putting me in my box in a reactive way. After all, if I just want dispensed wisdom I can just listen to a pontificated podcast or read a published article from a trusted traditional media source. I want a conversation – and to get anything of value out of that, mutual trust is pretty important.

  2. Pingback: Just Give Me A Decent Conversation And I Might Just Learn Something | Graham Wegner - Open Educator

  3. I don’t just ‘trust’ someone because of their guru status in education or ICT etc. More often than not the people who have earned my trust are those that I perceive as trying hard on a daily basis to make a difference to the kids in their classes – the ones who are trying out new learning technologies and challenging themselves to reflect on their teaching and beliefs.

    I have learned such a lot from people in my network – vis twitter, feedly etc – most of whom I’ve never met. However. the sharing and support that goes on virtually is such a wonderful aspect of my PLN.

  4. “How do you determine trust on the interwebs?”

    How do you work out who to trust? I’m thinking that is really your question?

    Well I would like to think trust is gained through building relationships, taking time to connect with people, caring about what they do, supporting/assisting their work, making time to have conversations, and helping them.

    However, I do understand why new people often feel in awe of those that are better known. I think we’ve all been there 🙂

    “If you are NOT adding supporting and doing something for ordinary teachers – and just show up to collect your speakers fee. The back channel is going to own you.” Yeah I know semi-serious post 😎 But just because someone takes a different approach to supporting others in ways other than the ways that you or I do what we do does that necessarily mean they aren’t supporting others?

    • I think for me at least it has to do with being accessible and willing to help anyone who takes the time to ask you a question — by giving them the time they need to step forward. I am sure that many do support people in many ways that I and others don’t see. My concern is simply that this becomes a market place and the back channel becomes a place to lift a profile, not solve a problem.

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