Malcolm Gladwell on the "AirBnB Problem"
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In fact, it could be their curse.
“More data increases our confidence, not our accuracy,” he said at mobile marketing analytics provider Tune’s Postback 2015 event in Seattle.
“I want to puncture marketers’ confidence and show you where data can’t help us.
The sharing economy, featuring companies like Airbnb, Uber/Lyft, even eBay, rely on trust.
And they’re growing and expanding like wildfire.
And yet, if you look at recent polls of trust and trustworthiness, people’s — and especially millennials — trust is at an all-time low.
Out of ten American “institutions,” including church, Congress, the presidency, and others, millennials only trust two: the military and science.
That’s conflicting data. And what the data can’t tell us is how both can be true, Gladwell said.
“Data can tell us about the immediate environment of people’s attitudes, but not much about the environment in which they were formed,” he said. “So which is right? Do people not trust others, as the polls say … or are they lying to the surveys?”
The context helps, Gladwell said.
That context is a massive shift in American society over the past few decades: a huge reduction in violent crime. For example, New York City had over 2,000 murders in 1990. Last year it was 300. In the same time frame, the overall violent crime index has gone down from 2,500 per 100,000 people to 500.
“That means that there is an entire generation of people growing up today not just with Internet and mobile phones … but also growing up who have never known on a personal, visceral level what crime is,” Gladwell said.
Baby boomers, who had very personal experiences of crime, were given powerful evidence that they should not trust. The following generations are reverting to what psychologists call “default truth.” In other words, they assume that when someone says something, it’s true … until they see evidence to the contrary.
“I think millennials are very trusting,” Gladwell said. “And when they say they’re not … they’re bullshitting.”
Whether that’s true or not, however, is extremely important to the future of the sharing economy.