Witnessed presence and trust

Recognizing each other’s spatiotemporal trajectories seems to be a requirement for the emergence of shared concepts and language (Kuhn 2000). In the enactment of being, in the performance of presence, other beings and social structures are essential. Both in natural presence and in mediated presence, Witnessed Presence is a catalyst.

An action that is witnessed becomes a deed. A witness has the potential to interfere with a situation to which she is a witness by acting upon this situation and/or by giving testimony about what happened in the situation. Both being witness and bearing witness include the possibility to influence what happens next. A witness accepts responsibility for what she witnesses. Witnessing is key in the design of presence and is key to the design of trust (Nevejan 2009). The capacity to be a witness and bear witness to other beings is the essence of humanness (Oliver 2001). Technology challenges the way people are witness to each other; it challenges both presence and trust designs to the core because scale and speed of communication and transactions is beyond what was ever possible before. Ongoing research into ‘communities of systems and people’ shows that witnessing is a fundamental dynamic in communities of practice (Nevejan and Brazier 2010).
This paper explores how people are witness to each other when using technology and make trade-offs in the presences they perform (and accept presences of others) to decide the trust they engage with. Results show that granularity of reciprocity in specific configurations of the dimensions benefits potential trust to build.