Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I am part of a community, therefore I am: Your identity is co-created

I've often discussed psychological self-determination (who the hell do you think you are?) with Communities Dominate Brands' Alan Moore.
But I can't recall posting about it. Well, today I have an excuse. Al's added a very short video to the blog he shares with co-author Tomi Ahonen. You'll find it HERE
It kind of sums up the notion quite neatly - for those who love their sound bites.

The argument goes something like this: when communities were fixed in location, your identity was created by your relationships within that fixed community. Your identity was equally fixed.

Your identity is as much created by those around you as by yourself.

In a socially-networked world, the creation of your identity becomes a process which is contributed to by more people, more often, and from very varied backgrounds.

The community you exist in shapes your identity from its perspective and from your own.
Your identity may vary from community to community.

If once you were the blacksmith's son and village blacksmith-in-waiting, now you are a huge variety of identities - depending on the community you are interacting with at any one time.
Our identities become increasingly multi-faceted.

Example - on this blog my identity is relatively serious, thoughtful. On facebook... more playful.
I'm displaying a different facet of a complex identity.

The community I feel I am part of when writing this blog joins in the construction of my serious and thoughtful persona on FasterFuture (by your comments, and I guess expectations of a certain consistency).

The community I feel part of on facebook also joins in the construction of my persona there - by the way it acts, by its response to what I do, by the tools it offers me.

The push and pull of the forces forging my identity in all elements of my life are communal. I interact with a community, therefore I am...

Each community creates a different facet of that identity - and in doing so makes a contribution to subtley reshaping the core.

Simple example: Becoming a father changed my personality. I had a new role to play and a new set of relationships - with my daughter, with my wife (now a mother, too) with other fathers, other parents etc etc. Each interaction changed me in small but important ways.
And I believe it made a change at my core.

This may be an extreme and emotionally-loaded example, but I do believe that the co-creation of facets of your personality have more than a superficial impact.

Perhaps this is why 'the edglings' that Stowe Boyd decribes, or Generation-C that Alan and Tomi describe, have a different set of wants - and aren't satisfied by the norms of mass production/media.

Through new mobile, fluid, co-creating communities they have 'found' themselves.
And they have found they want to share in, to be part of, to engage with.

Understanding which facets of personalities you seek to engage with, understanding that you are dealing with personalites created from converged facets... these are the real challenges for those marketing and/or creating social media in 2007.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?