trust, shared sense of quality and shared intent


Shared trust, shared sense of quality and shared intent: a model for human relations

Motivation: real world systems involve people

I used to be oriented around systems of objects, rather than people. Math, physics, programming, legos. You name it. can i excercise system design and see the system in motion? I’m in.

That model has its limits. It gives no prescription for how to work with people and design teams. A great place to exercise system design is to build products. But why should people want to use the products you build?

Here the thing-oriented worldview breaks down. It’s not sufficient to create a great product you’d use yourself for others to be willing to pay you for the right to use that product. People just know what’s great for them. Communication is needed.

Shared trust, shared sense of quality, shared intent is a model that helps contextualize those choices.

Let’s start with examples.

Quicknote a temporally oriented note-taking app.

person label description
Alice a Quicknote developer
Bob b Quicknote product manager
Charlie c Early quicknote adopter

We can characterize Alice, Bob and Charlie’s relations through attributes. We choose the notation (subject->object).attribute. Does Alice trust Bob? That’s (a->b).trust. Does Bob understand what Charlie is motivate by, and finds to be really good? That’s (b->c).quality.

Let’s also shorten trust to t, quality to q and intent to i.

rel evidence
(a->b).t Bob promised that they would reconsider the sync feature if they ran into too much trouble. They did, and cut scope.
(c->a).q Charlie was going shopping, and checked the “buy milk” item. The app froze. He asked Alice what he could do to fix it, and Alice was visibly embarassed. She said, “that’s my fault, I’m fixing it.” The next day, Charlie tried again, and it was working.

A low resolution score, or a high resolution map

Developers Alice and Dave share a love for immutability, but their differences differ when it comes to type systems.

In a low-resolution model, they have some sense of shared quality. They like working together, and learning from each other.

shared quality about what? score
Programming in general 6/10
Immutability (programming) 8/10
Type systems (programming) 5/10
Food 1/10

A low score can indicate no overlapping sense of quality, or no known overlap in sense of quality. If Alice and Dave have never eaten together, or cooked food together, they don’t have a shared sense of quality of food – even if they might both love burritos.

In other words: We map known shared territory.