The Economist has an interesting backwards twist on the SPLJ thesis. With DigitalID World opening tomorrow, I wish I could be going. Still, I can read the blogs and heckle via email...
If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good
WHEN economists try to explain why the Internet is more popular in one country than another, they usually point to factors such as the number of PCs, telephone lines or average years of schooling. But something less quantifiable may be more important: trust. This, at least, is the result of a recent study by Jonathan Leland and his colleagues at IBM, which compared 17 countries.
The Internet's anonymity and vastness encourage misrepresentation and fraud. Thus, people who are normally suspicious tend to shun the medium, while more trusting souls embrace it. To test this proposition, the team correlated OECD data on Internet adoption with results from the World Values Survey. One question the latter asks is: �Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?�
The statistical link between trust and Internet adoption turns out to be surprisingly strong. The degree of trust in a society, as measured by the percentage of respondents who answered �yes� to the first part of the question above, explains almost two-thirds of national differences in the percentage of households that have Internet access. Even when controlled for other variables, such as the number of computers, trust remains an important factor.