“add / drop / swap”:
Developing Privacy and Trust in a Web Application
for Trading Courses at Davidson College
A number of recently popular online platforms, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Tinder facilitate complex and potentially dangerous interactions between users. For users to feel confident entering these communications, software developers must carefully engineer trust both in other users and in the platform itself. This thesis in Digital Studies introduces Swaptime, an open-source web application that helps Davidson students secure seats in high-demand courses by organizing trades with their peers. Swaptime also asks its users to navigate potentially risky transactions, but unlike Uber and similar platforms that coordinate non-repeating interactions between complete strangers, Swaptime targets a student body that prizes accountability and trust between its members. This distinction enables Swaptime as a lens for exploring the challenges involved in preserving an offline community’s values and cohesion in a new online space. By applying prior research on security, trust, and identity online to the advent of single sign-on services (SSOs), this project theorizes that developers can utilize SSO logins to “embed” trust into community technologies.