Trusted Opinion? - Well, mine of course

I am keenly interested in the development of online trust networks, because I genuinely believe that people will derive greater use from the recommendations of those that they trust than from the wider world. Whilst we can learn from popularity rankings of "things" as judged by the mass market, the problem with this is that our tastes and preferences don't necessarily overlap with the participants of open networks.

For instances, I wouldn't consider myself to have much in common with MySpace users and there's no reason why I should. But that is not simply an age distinction, there are many other factors that would probably divide us. Likewise, the restaurant of top 10 as judged by Sun readers probably wouldn't provide me with a useful guide, not simply because a nationwide poll wouldn't be useful to me.

In the offline world, we seek recommendations from those we know and trust. We do it because they provide a valuable source of information from people with whom we have some shared views/tastes and an opinion we can generally trust - in offering an opinion they have their reputation with us to consider.

Consequently, I was interested by the launch of "Trusted Opinion", which is a new social network but which focuses on building groups of people you actually know and trust, rather than being a race to add the most "friends" that you actually don't know.

Whilst it presently focusses on movie recommendations it is clear that this can easily be expanded to cover other subjects/topics.

Stupidly, step 2 after registering is to invite friends to also join the service - I haven't event tried it out at this stage, so why on earth would I invite friends to trust it? You think this would be obvious to the designers of a service that is intended to be a trust network! However, you do have the option to skip this stage.

However the scariest thing about this service is that it's identical to the notion I advanced in my Barcamp London session back in September even down to the physical representation of how to display relationships in a "Bullseye" fashion. Bearing in mind that this service only just launched and I had no pre-knowledge of it (or they of me in all likelihood), it probably demonstrates that ideas are rarely unique..


The user interface is most impressive, with a revolving circle of friends, whose profiles you can easily see by hovering over the picture

Whilst you might know the first circle of people you trust, the inclusion of friend of friends (people that your friends trust) is also included in outer circles, to increase the body of knowledge. However, you can filter the body of friends down

Inviting friends is made remarkably easy either via importing their details directly from a list of popular services (gmail, outlook, plaxo, msn, yahoo) or by simply typing in email addresses.

When you first join and have no friends you are able to use the "hosts" profile and access all users. Evidently Saul Klein of Index Ventures is already a user, as his profile popped up when I
selected UK users aged between 30 and 40 years old that had a photo.



As you can see from Saul's profile, the idea is that you add movies that you've seen and then rate them. Alongside this, you can see how many other people have rated the same movie and are invited to also rate the movie. In this manner you build a body of knowledge, with the notable difference that you can quickly see what the people you trust think of the movie as distinct from the masses. Again the visual is superb, quickly highlighting the important data and allowing you to easily see the individuals behind the ratings.

I am genuinely excited by this service exactly because its meets my hopes for "In the loop" and I hope that they will soon widen it out to the many other areas such a facility is relevant to.

PS Just to prove a point, a copy of my Sept 06 Barcamp presentation is below and the details are in the second portion of the deck. At the time of writing this has had 238 views on slideshare, so maybe somebody took notice!

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