UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Radical Trust? We’re Doing It!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Apr 2007

I mentioned recently that one of the sessions at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference I found very useful was entitled”Radical Trust: State of the Museum Blogosphere“. I have to admit that when I decided to attend the session, I was rather confused by the title: I realised that the speakers would be likely to review developments with blogs in a museums’ context, but what did ‘radical trust’ mean?

I was told that this term had been coined to describe how the commercial sector was starting to engage more actively with its user community. I subsequently found the Radical Trust blog which states that:

For years, marketers have been asking consumers for trust in making informed purchase decisions. The trick to conventional marketing is knowing what to say, and what not to say to create and influence the largest possible persuasion in purchase decisions.

Today, however, the consumer can become a segment expert overnight and can own and control the key brand information independent of the manufacturer. The tide has turned and now marketers must radically trust the consumer to build the brand based on the information that is most relevant to them.

It strikes we that this radical approach may be needed by the commercial sector (they advertise on broadcast media such as the TV and radio and expect consumers to ring premium rate numbers when the goods or services we’ve purchased don’t work).

But within the educational and cultural heritage sectors, surely user engagement is what we’re about. We may need to think through the implications of moving from a Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 environment, and assess the risks in making use of new services. But the principle of user engagement is deeply ingrained within many aspects of our organisational culture, I would suggest.

And the term ‘radical trust’ could well endanger moves towards greater use of services such as blogging: we should be arguing that such technologies can support our core mission – s, indeed, the two speakers from the Brooklyn Museum did, with the Powerhouse blog describing the impact of the talk aseveryone was floored by the efforts of the Brooklyn Museum who have managed to build a strong user community around their online presence“.

In addition, I feel that the term ‘radical trust’ could be interpretted as being somewhat elitist – “We’re cool; we’re into radical trust! You’re not – you must be dull and boring”.

So I’m afraid I would disagree with Michael Casey’s LibraryCrunch article and the visually appealing but misleading photograph on Darlene Fischer’s Blog the Side posting.

Radical trust? Let’s encourage the commercial sector to engage more with their consumers – but let the education and cultural heritage sectors extend their engagement with their users beyond the real world and do even more in the networked environment.

Technorati Tags: mw2007

3 Responses to “Radical Trust? We’re Doing It!”

  1. Collin said

    I always thought that museums radically trusted their patrons as their core philosophy. You put a priceless item on display, and trust (radically) that somebody won’t vandalize or steal it.

    You find it at the library when you check out a $100 book with a simple library card as ID, often with no collateral. They are radically trusting they will see you again in 2 weeks.

    I never understood why the term “radical trust” applies to museums in social media platforms like blogs. I would love a dialogue on this. Is it the same notion described in the paragraph you pulled from my blog above, or is it something else, more specific to museum technology?

    All the best
    collin douma from

  2. Perhaps Brian Kelly is right that my postcard about Library 2.0 is misleading .. there’s certainly been some wonderful interpretations and applications that I never forsaw and I have been dazzled, humbled and bemused at times. But perhaps rather than misleading, what the postcard lacks is “context” and “provenance” … something our archival colleagues are quite passionate about so I’ve elaborated on blog (just a bit) on the notion that “within the educational and cultural heritage sectors, surely user engagement is what we’re about” … and maybe we weren’t about it as nearly as much as we could be given the tools at hand.

  3. […] but you don’t trust me to leave a comment in your online visitors book” – to paraphrase a recent discussion on the topic of “Radical […]

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