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Experts and organizations are losing trust

Trust is tied to reliability and consistency. The “big institutions” – government, religious, corporate – that were the object of trust in the past have, in the last century in particular, been revealed as flawed. While people still pursue religious activities and subject themselves to government, the authority of these institutions is being replaced (is augmented a better word) by personal networks of trust (see, for example, the notion of networked, social, personal spiritual networks in contrast with organized religion). I’m trying to find an analogy that best summarizes the shift from trust based on authority to trust based on personal relationships. The best I can come up with is that of a food critic or restaurant reviewer. Every major newspaper has the token food expert that reviews restaurants incognito. These reviews are valuable and can significantly hamper or improve a restaurant’s chance of success. But I rarely base my dining decisions on the review of an expert. I typically turn to friends or colleagues. Their opinions of “wow, that was an excellent dining experience” play a much greater role in where I dine than do reviews in a newspaper. Where authority and personal relationships differ, relationships receive greater weight and merit.
People trust people. It’s not really much of a surprise that organizations whose appeal is to authority, not relationships, are experiencing some stress – Experts and organizations are losing trust: “The Web is about the informed, skeptical society. There is a break developing between this skeptical society and its experts, institutions and organizations. The organization can’t just say: “Trust us. Follow us. We know best.”"