The problem of making computing systems trustworthy is often framed in terms of ensuring that users can trust systems. In contrast, my research illustrates that trustworthy computing intrinsically relies upon social trust in the operation of systems, as much as in the use of systems. Drawing from cases including the Border Gateway Protocol, DNS, and the PGP key server pool, I will show how the trustworthiness of the Internet's infrastructural technologies relies upon interpersonal and institutional trust within the communities of the Internet's technical operations personnel. Through these cases, I will demonstrate how a sociotechnical perspective can aid in the analysis and development of trustworthy computing systems by foregrounding operational trust alongside user trust and technological design.
Ashwin J. Mathew is a lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College, London. He is an ethnographer of Internet infrastructure, studying the technologies and technical communities involved in the operation of the global Internet. His research shows how the stability of global Internet infrastructure relies upon a social infrastructure of trust within the Internet's technical communities. In his work, he treats Internet infrastructure as culture, power, politics, and practice, just as much as technology.
He holds a Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Information, and won the 2016 iConference Doctoral Dissertation Award for his research into network operator communities across North America and South Asia. His subsequent research into trust relationships and organisational problems in information security has been funded by the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. Prior to his doctoral work, he spent a decade as a programmer and technical architect in companies such as Adobe Systems and Sun Microsystems.