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by Jay Fienberg

Joi on entity and identity, and Jay on profile too

posted: Jul 15, 2003 10:48:28 PM

Joi Ito has a good post, I'm not Joi Ito, that's just my name, on the values of multiple identities, and how they relate to you as an entity.

I think some of these words have different shades of meaning in different contexts, but I think the boundaries between entity, identities and profiles is somewhat unclear.

Part of the issue, which I won't get into, is that each of us isn't even actually a singular entity. You could slice or dice it different ways: the body as biological system of many symbiotic (cellular and organ) entities, the self as illusory view of many causes and effects, etc.

In technical, database terms, there is the idea of an identifier and especially a unique identifier. I think this concept is really at the root of technical ID schemes. And, the ability to link everything about you to some ID like this potentially has many social consequences which Joi points out.

Joi is talking about having multiple identities with each having information that is only relevant to particular transactions. This idea isn't wholly the same as the idea of profiles, but profiles are that particular information that is used.

So, I think another way to state what Joi is getting at is using profiles that include information that is sufficiently identifying for particular transactions, but that do not reveal a singular ID that can be connected to other profiles, and that do not reveal more than the minimal profile information required.

I have been thinking about similar things, and want to create a way to play with multiple identities/profiles with the identity iCites. Identity iCites are part of the iCite net especially as a way to identify people who create or own or posses content or information.

While there are some interesting reasons for someone to reveal themselves as the creator of particular content all over the Internet, people will also be able to create multiple identity iCites when they want to obscure that relationship between content and content creator/owner/publisher.

But, I also am interested in exploring what I described as "online exhibitionism" in my post on Why blogging matters (more than blogs). By this I mean, what happens if lots of people openly and constantly expose lots of their profiles in a totally public manner?

I don't know, but I think this is happening through blogs. Joi himself is now live broadcasting streaming video of himself, and I think this is somewhat in this vein of open sourcing oneself.

Coincidentally, I am about to go on a job interview, and, as part of the interview, I need to fill out multiple forms to give my consent to this potential employer to do all kinds of probing into my background! This is more probing than I have ever consented to, and I bet the investigators will be reading this shortly!

I don't know what to think about this, because I don't know if, as a social phenomenon, it is something that can be turned back to a more innocent we'll look you in the eyes and listen to what you say. Maybe blogging is a way to make looking in the eyes and listening to what is said an unavoidable part of such probing.

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