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September 8, 2009

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The Slider of Trust

I just wrote a quick update over at Kickstarter, accessible to my project backers only, and I have to say, it was an interesting experience. It felt different; more than usual, I could picture somewhat specifically who I was writing for. And this post is about the music I’ve been listening to, so I could include a few MP3s without feeling like a pirate.

What if more web writing had this kind of thing built into it? Imagine—I’m brainstorming real-time right now, so this probably won’t make any sense—imagine a little slider on the blog entry editing screen that goes from “free / full public access” to “bulk subs / high access” to “patrons only / inner circle.” It’s a question (I’m discovering) not primarily of “content value” (like, “save the good stuff for the paying customers!”) but rather of intimacy and voice. In one mode, the vast howling weirdness of the public web. In the other, a defined group of people you know and, on some level, trust.

So forget the payment thing, explicit in Kickstarter and implicit in my scenario above. What if it was entirely about concentric circles of trust and—what else? Helpfulness? Constructiveness? “Propensity to read, understand, improve and articulate”? You want to try an idea out, you want a bit of freedom to think out loud—to suggest something stupid, to fail! So you set the slider to “friends and allies.” You’ll write a fully-baked, armor-plated public version later. But not yet.

Posted September 8, 2009 at 10:47 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy


Really like this concept. I think we're tacitly employing the slider all the time by choosing the mediums where we share. My concentric circles:

( ( ( ( w ) x ) y ) z )

w = the three people I email all the time
x = Google Reader
y = Twitter/Facebook
z = my blog

There's also the question of mediums like Tumblr that give users the illusion of existing on the right of the trust slider (part of its appeal, I think) but, of course, don't. Or maybe they do. I put Twitter in an inner circle, even though it's as publicly available as my blog. When you post something at, is that to the right of Snarkmarket on the trust slider?

Ha ha -- Zach, I like your (w) -- I definitely have a (w), too.

I think you're absolutely right -- we definitely do sort of naturally organize things this way, given a spectrum of different channels & tools. Facebook/Twitter is an interesting duo; I know some people who use those two in pretty rigorously different ways, for obvious reasons.

But it feels like most of the thought (and engineering) around concentric circles of privacy has been focused on, like, "who does, and doesn't, get to see my vacation photos" -- which makes tons of sense -- but I am thinking about the (admittedly way more niche) use case that is "I want to try these ideas out with a large group of people... but not everyone."

I guess there are email lists of different sizes that accommodate this; small (w) and big (w) alike. I think of that semi-famous "journo-list" of progressive bloggers, opinion writers, & policy wonks.

But one of the things I love about blogs is their permeability -- new ideas & new voices can emerge and surprise you. Hmm.

Facebook could do it, with it's lists, but it's not an intuitive interface. This is basically what I wanted Current to have though, way back when---a way of generating for yourself preferences about the people you cared to interact with on an online forum and the people you'd rather just have nothing to do with.

It reminds me of the private offices in

The difference between what you are suggesting and an email list is that if someone, today, joined your kickstarter list, they would have access to all the stuff you posted yesterday, before you knew to trust them.

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