Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Identity: Complexity or opportunity? Depends who is asking the question?

Tuesday proved to be a really interesting day at the VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) day Adriana Lukas organised at the October Gallery in Old Gloucester Road, London.

Some concepts/deployments of VRM-style models got a little air time: pintarget.com (please try it, they'd love your feedback), Paoga's My Sorting Office (which takes the spam out of email and gives you some control over vendors by allowing consumers to set up multiple temporary email accounts through which they can receive pitches from vendors without revealing their own ID.) and I liked BoxedUp's approach which ex FT man Chris Osbourne describes as 'Del.icio.us for products'.

And these are all worthy manifestations of the spirit of vrm.

But I particularly liked Adriana's own grappling with the creation of an infrastructure on which an ecosystem of such manifestations could evolve.

Growing from readily available tools and concepts (RSS, igoogle etc) it raised questions about how multiple personality facets could be shared – in a user-driven way. (Something my white paper on multiple digital identity and the long tail explores a little)

It sounds kind of mad that someone might want to expose facets of their digital identity in the form of 1000s of rss feeds (possibly more) of data about themselves, shared with whom they choose when they choose.

But that's likely because those of us who didn't grow up in the digital age see complexity where digital natives may see the opportunity for self-expression (in a psychological self-deterministic way)

For example,

World 1.0 question: How can I simplify the management of all these multiple identities?

World 2.0 question: Where are the tools that allow me to express all the subtleties of me?

I think Adriana may be on the right track with her infrastructure approach. Build something on which others can express; a fitness landscape for the evolution to begin on. That's where the value will emerge.

And it's kind of the world2.0 solution, isn't it?

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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?