Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Your fractured online identity

One of the motivations behind starting this blog is that I'd really like to take a look at what it takes to establish and maintain a persistent online identity. I don't mean identity as in "identity theft", or an academic treatment of identity formation, or some kind of personal SEO strategy -- I have a much more prosaic interest. I guess I really think of your online identity as being the sum of all the touchpoints on the Internet where you communicate and where others communicate with you. What are your inputs and outputs and how easy is it for others to find these touchpoints?

What are some of these touchpoints? Well, definitely your email address (or addresses) -- that's a main input and output for most online residents. A Facebook account? A blog? An old blog? Comments on blogs? Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, SmugMug? Do you have a wishlist on How about an Xbox Live account? Ever contribute reviews on yelp? Do you have a Google Profile page? Or use Google Reader to read and share items? Do you tweet? Have you now, or have you ever, shared your location on Google Latitude or foursquare?

Is the sum of that activity "you"? Do you want it to be? How do you manage all that, or have you ever even thought of this as something that needed to be "managed"?

So that's kind of the purpose of this blog: I want to try to figure out what my online identity is and how to wrangle it into something that 1) I can manage, wholly, and have for the rest of my life and 2) can be found and discovered by others that want to find it.

Why would you care about my online identity? You probably don't, but maybe we'll figure out some things that you can apply to your own online life. Maybe you're not so sure that you want to be your identity 10 years from now, or you're kind of bumming that your friends think you've fallen off the earth because you moved to Facebook and don't update your MySpace page anymore.

I'm not sure where this will lead, but I'm hoping it'll be a fun journey.

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