Astroturfing Censured by NY Attorney General

While not networking exactly, this does touch on our predilection to believe others we do not know, if there are enough of them.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has settled with a plastic surgery company, alleging the firm published phony positive testimonials and Web sites. Lifestyle Lift, associated with Michigan-based Scientific Image Center Management, agreed to pay $300,000 to New York State and stop posting false endorsements of its facial cosmetic surgery services.

[whole story]

I wonder how long until marketers create entire networks of fake people to promote products.  Anyone seen this on Facebook, Myspace, or anywhere?

I Hear Twitter

Friendship, it seems, is more accurately demonstrated than described.  We usually don’t do a good job accurately reporting our friendships when questioned.  So, here’s a look at a slightly higher measurement of friendship: conversations.

How I See TwitterIf you squint (or click to enlarge the image) you can find a little yellow dot.  That’s me.  The connections between dots are conversations that take place within my “hearing” on twitter.  With research suggesting people as far as three degrees away from you hold a statistically significant level of influence across varied subjects; don’t you wonder who is influencing you?

Code Blue: Swift Trust and Team Dynamics of a Crash Cart Response

Swift Trust, much like it sounds, is the concept of rapidly coming to intra-team trust.  A doctor friend of mine who introduced me to the term, explained it with the context of the ad hoc team of MDs and nurses responding to a cardiac arrest, a code blue.

I have been thinking about this throughout a book I am reading now, Honest Signals, by Alex (Sandy) Pentland from the Human Dynamics group of the MIT Media Lab.  In it, Prof. Pentland discusses physiological social signaling, and one point particular to swift trust stood out:  with great accuracy, one can predict behavioral outcomes using a “thin slice” of observation.  One study was able to predict six-year marital success based on just the first three minutes of a marital conflict.  There are many more studies showing similar success including job interviews, therapist competency ratings, and courtroom judges’ expectations of trial outcomes. My guess is there are things about the crash cart scenario which take advantage of this.

Some thoughts about this applied to code blue teams:

  1. the roles are well defined, so the amount of politicking is reduced
  2. time pressure pushes you to trust your colleagues, as there is little other choice
  3. the desired outcome is constrained, so you are only asked to trust in this specific situation
  4. trust develops rapidly with success
  5. trust develops when you don’t have a choice about the team over the long term. (time frame is short, so don’t know if this comes into play).

If these are right, here are a few predictions about the crash response process:

  1. there are a number of quick steps taken as a group before administering to the patient.  That would help establish some trust right at the beginning.
  2. the team members know each other at least by reputation, that goes a long way to giving the benefit of the doubt.
  3. the outcome is critical, so everyone is pushed to excel. This works in the the trust/success feedback loop.
  4. team members talk about crashes with their non-team colleagues.  this helps the reputation feedback.

Are there any MD’s or RN’s out there who care comment?  I have only the most cursory knowledge about the way the team is conducted, not to mention the actions team members take.  Does this fly?

[Photo credit: Simon]

Response: How Does the Web Define Authority?

The real questions are: whom do we trust, why, and under what conditions is trust transferable?

Chris Brogran asks: How does the web define authority?

First is an important matter of language.  There is a large difference between authority and an authority.  Authority is power formally granted by a position or role.  An authority is some who has power or influence; it’s a matter of trust by others for a given context.  E.g. I trust my doctor to diagnose an illness, but have no reason to trust him on gardening.

There are many reasons we (dis-) trust others, including: shared opinions; length, frequency, and consistency of interactions; and how our peers feel about the individual the given context.  These are all correlated, but frequency and peer opinion have the biggest impact on transferability of trust.

How use doth breed a habit in a man! — William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona

Frequency can be no surprise, it’s the underpinning of blanket marketing.  Familiarity bred through repetition.  Ever wonder why you stop on a TV show you dislike while flipping through the channels?  Of course, that could be me making excuses for lousy taste.

Peer consideration is the tricky bit.  There is a lot of research going into this, but there are some great seminal works that are written for non-academics covering the spread of innovation and adoption of scientific principles.

When our peers already have some experience or opinion on a topic or an authority, then our own opinions are strongly colored by these existing opinions.  In fact, as odd as it may sound, given a pattern of relationships where the opinion of all but one individual is known, we can predictably estimate both what the opinion is, and how strong the opinion is, of the unknown person.

But how about when we something brand new to us and our peers?  Frequency plays a big role here too.  If lots of people, even people we know nothing about, say XYZ is a good idea, we’re likely to give it the benefit of the doubt, trusting the wisdom of the crowd.

So, strictly speaking, is (dis-) trust transferable?  Depends.  If trust already exists in our network of peers, yes, and predictably so.  If the context is brand new to you and your peers, there is no trust to transfer, but we use frequency as a proxy in our decisions.

So what does this all mean?  Let’s look at an example: you’re trying to decide whether you agree (trust) what I have written.

I am new to writing about this, and I’m not particularly active in social media, so chances are we don’t have peers in common.  You can google for what others have said about me, but you’re not going to find much relevant to trusting me in this context.  Ultimately, because I don’t have a track record (frequency & consistency) for participation (peers) in this context, I am at the mercy of how similar our outlooks are, and any opinions that may develop in comments.