What if we trusted you?
Somewhere along the road, we lost trust in humans.
Around the world, we used to live together in community, on the Commons. We knew what those things meant and how to nurture them.
Then we lost faith. Was it colonialism? The aftermath of World War I? The protests and excesses of the 60s? Worries that population was growing more quickly than our solutions? Power politics and good propagation of bad memes?
Whatever the reason, we turned design of our institutions over to people whose objectives were efficiency, scale... and control, because the average person couldn't be trusted. In doing so, these designers turn abundance into scarcity and citizens into mere consumers.
Those systems haven't been working very well. When they do fail, their designers turn the knob to 11, adding radar-camera ticketing to stoplights or increasing the school year and doubling down on standardized testing.
There is a different way. There are hundreds of examples of systems designed from trust, which work better. Unfortunately, we're so accustomed to control systems that these solutions sound exotic and counterintuitive.
It turns out, though, that people are more trustworthy than we think they are.
Here's a talk that explores this idea within the domain of education:
And a follow-on talk that extends the ideas in the TEDx talk:
Stepping out of education into design, some new ideas: the hidden architectures of mistrust and Design from Trust:
A few more resources:
- Thoughts on trust
- More about the practice called Design from Trust
- This site's dark mirror: Why We Don't Trust You
- Advice for skeptics who think we should worry first about the bad actors: