Strong weak ties

isotopp image Kristian Köhntopp -
April 5, 2017
a featured image

A long time ago, I wrote a text on the German Blog and on Carta: Wieso wir uns veröffentlichen (Why we publish ourselves).

In the middle of a discussion about privacy I was explaining why people publish themselves, why they publicly reveal (sometimes intimate) facts about themselves. They are doing this, I wrote, to find other like-minded people, to become searchable and to become approachable, to build trust. Trust is a wonderful thing. It is the powerful assumption that most people most of the time want to help you and that falsely trying out to trust people is a recoverable mistake. Having trust and being in a trustworthy environment keeps transactional costs low and makes cooperation possible.

And that’s rewarding and awesome. How does this work in practice?

So tomorrow there is Pro Light and Sound in Frankfurt . Sammy wants to go there, and gets the combination ticket. That’s admission to the trade show, plus a ticket for German rail. That ticket is being delivered as a Bahn Tix code, which you can punch into any German ticket machine and get a printout. We are in the Netherlands. The next ticket machine is in Venlo. The route she’s going to use does not pass Venlo. There is no way to get Bahn Tix online .

I am asking on Google plus for help, and because I know at least one person following me is a Train Driver I mention them into the thread. Sammy, me and that person get into a Hangout. Ticket is being picked up and given the train driver of ICE 220 FFM -> Amsterdam Centraal. Shift change at the border, ticket travels on to Amsterdam, +30 platform change 7b -> 2. Printed Ticket is being successfully delivered from the engine to Sammy at 11:58.

This is a direct application of Interpersonal Ties theory (pointing to article by Granovetter (1973) and in a way to the works of Peter Turchin . High trust societies are societies where people have many weak ties , that can be strengthened as demand arises. It’s these strong weak ties that enable (inter-) action and where cooperation wins between people are highest. In order to have strong weak ties, a society needs to have a relatively low and controlled wealth difference (Gini coefficient ) and a working judicial system and low corruption. This creates social cohesion, and enables “random” cooperation.

Also, you win friends. Looking forward to a visit, soon.