Several people in the CCK08 massively online course on Connectivism and Connected knowledge have been discussing online identity, self and reputation. One of the interesting points is about how engaged you can feel when dealing with an avatar (graphical or textual) which has obviously been designed as an ephemeral presence purely for a particular purpose. If there is no back history available, can you feel a sense of trust?
First, my model of mind and (therefore) of learning - we are pattern matching creatures by dint of the way out brains work, and look for the similarities and differences between things. We also create models in our minds of what we perceive, which are, by definition, abstractions and simplifications of the 'objective reality'. Our perceptions are, I believe, affected by the internal models.
I have just blogged over at RedGloo about identity, trust and reputation and how they affect connectivism (to some extent). I want to explore that some more in a series of posts, but for various reasons, I don't want to post too much on RedGloo.