A couple weeks ago (in this post) I mentioned the remarkable degree of impersonal trust being cultivated by Web 2.0 community engineers at eBay and Amazon. Kate Ehrlich approached me shortly thereafter with a wonderfully refined perspective on the limits of these impersonal social networks. Kate is a cognitive psychologist working at IBM's Collaborative User Experience Group, and so has a keen sense of the dynamics of modern business communities.
Kate suggested that some level of trust can be established and maintained online but that trust can erode if it is not supported by some face to face time. This is especially true
- When you and I have a relationship rather than just a transaction
- When our relationship needs to be sustained over time and is not just a single instance
- When there is a dependency between us.
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