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Online relationships are similar in many ways to pen pal relationships.
This relationship can be romantic, platonic, or even based on business affairs.
One of my favorites was, "There's margin in mystery." What he meant by this is that anything that's too obvious to the consumer can be easily evaluated for it's value and often then suffers from low margins.
The flip side is that if you can offer something that's not at all clear how you are doing it, then people perceive greater value.
Because I was the Acting CTO for e Harmony at it's start, I quite often get introduced to people who have an idea for a startup company that is based on some kind of matching algorithm.
They describe the company as the e Harmony of careers, clothes, jobs, college, tutoring services, doctors, service companies, investments, etc.
This relationship can be between people in different regions, different countries, different sides of the world, or even people who reside in the same area but do not communicate in person. Michael Jaffe, author of Gender, Pseudonyms, and CMC: Masking Identities and Baring Souls, "the Internet was originally established to expedite communication between governmental scientists and defense experts, and was not at all intended to be the popular 'interpersonal mass medium' it has become", yet new and revolutionary devices enabling the mass public to communicate online are constantly being developed and released.
In e Harmony's case, it was the friction of finding a compatible marriage partner.