My initial blog’s somewhat naïve expectation that our class will involve “learning how businesses strategically use social media and digital business technologies as part of their operations” proved to be a bit of an understatement. We learned not only how social media is used, but also how social media is the very make-up some companies. Many digital technology businesses participate in the trust economy and have become extremely successful through those methods. Two of my main takeaways from this class are the impacts of the trust economy and the impacts of how people view privacy and the creepy vs. cool line.
Like I’m sure many of my classmates also feel, I had never heard of the trust economy before this class. Yet we had been participating in the trust economy, potentially, for years before this class. Uber became widely available in the greater Boston area when I was in high school, though I did not use it extensively until I began at BC. Because I essentially matured with the technology, I did not think much of it when I started using Uber. I did not realize that I was participating in a highly controversial new form of transaction – trust. After years of my parents telling me not to get in cars with strangers, I did so without even thinking about it. Now, equipped with the knowledge of how the trust economy relies on trust between both service provider and service user, I can really appreciate how important the rating system is for Uber and how to better take advantage of the service. Even though they’re constantly in the news for the next cringe-worthy thing they did, Uber is cool!
I had a similar experience with Airbnb, which I used extensively while studying abroad last semester. I always thought that my interactions with the hosts were pleasant because it was something they enjoyed doing, not that it was part of the trust transaction. When we enjoyed our stay, we could rate them positively and show other Airbnb users the hosts could be trusted. Likewise, we knew that we were being rated as part of the transaction, so we made sure we were on our best behavior. Now that I really understand the trust system embedded into the platform, I can continue to use the service and do so in an even greater capacity. Even though it’s sometimes a scary idea, Airbnb is cool!
The trust economy isn’t going away. With new companies popping up, the trust economy will continue to get stronger and more differentiated. New technologies and businesses will continue to push boundaries of privacy and technology’s place in our lives. These technologies will rely heavily on a consumer’s ability to trust in the technology and relinquish some of their privacy in exchange for the product’s usefulness. Even though it’s difficult sometimes, trust is cool!
Throughout the semester, we have continually gone back to the polarizing creepy vs. cool line. Generally speaking, I find myself tending to find technologies more cool than creepy. For example, I have greatly adopted the Amazon Alexa platform throughout my Mod and have documented our experience with it through the popular #ModEcho. We use the Echo Dots for simple things like setting cooking timers, changing Spotify songs, and telling us bedtime stories (we discovered this recently and its quite funny). As we continue to use the AI technology behind the Alexa platform, it will continue to improve. Our class on AI shed light for me on how these technologies work and the privacy that we need to give up for the betterment of AI technologies. Even though it’s still relatively young, AI is cool!
I had always known the privacy debate to be a contentious one, and that was clear throughout the entire semester. Ultimately, as many of our classmates reflected on their priorities, it became clear that young people especially are likely to be accepting of a loss of privacy to attain better technologies. This was particularly clear on technologies that are made available to the public for free in exchange for saving some or a lot of their data for analysis and sale. The network effects present in social media platforms could be non-existent if people had to pay to access them and were unwilling. A precedent has been set that platforms like that should be free to use, and the thing companies get in return is data. With this in mind, privacy will continue to be at the forefront of new discussions about improving technologies, and a balance will be found. Even though privacy is very important to a lot of people, data is cool!
I feel so fortunate to have been able to grow up with technology in my life and experience it first hand as so many things have been innovated. Likewise, having the opportunity to take this extremely insightful class has really bolstered my knowledge of technology’s role in our lives both professionally and personally. This class helped me develop a more critical eye for technology, which will undoubtedly help me as technologies become more interwoven in our lives. At the end of the day, I’m a total geek for new gadgets and I think I’ll always find that trusting technology is so cool.
Thank you #IS6621 for great conversation and friendship this semester!