Confusion between trusting humans and/or machines

This trustworthiness becomes even more important when one wants to work together online, make live connections, get hardware installed in a place where one is not present and have people actually participate. In many events in the early 90s this trustworthiness appeared to be a crucial element for success. If people had not trusted each other, so that they made things work at their end, the technology would simply not work. Live connections could only succeed if we had a trustworthy partner on the other side. Someone you get to know, sometimes only by telephone. People need to share the sense of wanting to connect at that moment in time, need to be able to assemble the technical expertise and need to share the sense of performance.

Being a producer, or being a participant or visitor of online public events, the trust one has to have in technicians, programmers, and designers is even greater. They have to be capable and willing to make things work, in a world where Murphy's Law rules: "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong". Digital technology is very precise and dependant on endless details that have to be right. The plug that connects A to B is not right, the hardware is wrongly set, the beamer is not balanced, the software shows a bug that was not there before, the connectivity goes down, the database can not deal with a certain query and the license for the application just ran out...

One could argue that there is a constant confusion between the trust one has in the digital technology itself and in the people operating it. The issue of trust in the human/machine discourse has a long history. Can humankind trust technology or will the technology control humankind? This question is posed when discussing digital technologies, but also when we discuss nuclear physics, gene technology, biochemical science, nanotechnology and more. Philosophical and political views, personal integrities and economic realities determine this debate. I will not go into this debate. I want to assess the fact that the confusion is there, and that in itself it has significance for the questions I ask here in the context of looking for design requirements for presence.