Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Trust in Social Networks

Many so-called collaborative services rely on networks of users, sharing the same interests or goals, that contribute on a shared platform. By adding other users (and / or their respective sites) to one's own network, it is possible to find related users, following the friend of a friend principle.

As the number of "friends" expands, linking to other users does not seem enough, as it is not expressive enough. If one models the relations to other users as edges between nodes, it is desirable to be able to assign meaning to these relations. A straightforward way to achieve this is by assigning trust levels to other users. As this trust is related to some context (i. e. I might trust someone to give me good recommendations on where to go out, but I might not trust this person as much when it comes to good movies), this concept of trusts needs semantic indexing, which can be done via tags.

Thus, by expanding the notion of so-called social networks with weighted semantics, communities in the virtual world become much more helpful, as it is possible to find users not only on the basis of what they say about themselves, but also related how other users perceive them. By aggregating the typed relations for a given user, it is then possible to express how this user is perceived in a given community of many participants.

I am interested in sharing thoughts and ideas about this topic, as it seems very relevant both in personal as well in professional networks.