Life Stream

So its been over a full week since my last post (as a recovering Catholic, that phrase sounds really familiar) … I have been on the road and have had little time to pull thoughts together in any real sense, but that doesn’t mean my head hasn’t been working overtime. A while back I was invited to give a talk at the University of South Florida, so I jumped on a plane and headed to Tampa last Thursday to talk to a group of faculty, staff, and students about student expectations and the tools we are looking at to engage them. It was a blast — right up until I had to come home. Let me put it this way, my plane took a nose dive towards the approach at the tiny State College airport — that was not fun. We hit a wind sheer that dumped us into a dive that set alarms off in the plane. Ten minutes later and the captain told us we were not going to be landing in State College, but were heading for Baltimore, MD instead. Once in Baltimore we were given the option to get off there or head back to Atlanta. Given my relative expertise in geography I chose to stay in Baltimore because as I saw it, Maryland is closer to Pennsylvania. That’s what I thought until they told us they were taking us home in taxi cabs — long ride, short story, but I made it home around 4:30 AM. It was a mess and has me thinking very seriously about ever traveling in or out of State College in the months of December, January, February, or March. Home is a good thing.

The other thing that is tormenting me are the god damn voices in my head. I am dealing with all sorts of thoughts related to identity management at the moment. A lot of it is coming from conversations I have been having with colleagues at work, but some of it is emerging from the online space. Talk of the PLE and more recently, David Wiley’s posts about his blog as the center to it all have pulled old thinking out into the front of my head. I am struggling with owning/shaping/building identity in ways that I haven’t in quite some time. I have been thinking about how we go about creating new identities all over the web all the while rebuilding our social networks and profiles in an attempt to get them all up to our expectations. What I mean is that each time I want to investigate a new environment I have to beg others to join me just to see how the social structure works … this makes me uncomfortable. What I prefer is to have one identity that I assert into new spaces and when I do, my netowrk and profile rolls along for the ride. I think as we move further and further down the social web path we’ll need to figure out what it really means to own our online identity. My thinking has not yet jelled (but that voice keeps talking to me), but I do think there is an opportunity here to ignore the need to recreate one’s self over and over again in multiple environments and instead just really focus in on honing it in one place. Is that too flaky? Is it to needy? Is it too much to ask?

I have been spending a lot of time recently talking about meta identity — you know, all these small pieces of identity add up to a real identity. FLickr,, my blogs, twitter, and all the other little places I express myself online create my meta self. I’m not sure anymore. It feels very unsophisticated to me … why not let me craft my identity and simply assert that credential into all the new spaces online. When that happens I simply gain a new attribute in my identity keychain (or whatever) that says something to the effect of, colecamplese can now log into Pownce and bring his whole network along for the ride (if they so choose)? Does that make any sense?

I have been watching a lot of these social “life stream” apps hit the web 2.0 space and am wondering why I have to actively add yet another account only to bring my identity back together. Why am I disaggregating myself only to maintain yet another profile to bring it all back together? I’m not sure of the answer, but I could sure use some help in thinking about it. Maybe the voices are really the just voice of the terrible winter we’ve had, or maybe the voices are right … I’m not sure. What do you think?

8 thoughts on “Life Stream

  1. A few years ago I was coming back from Orlando in March. The flight into Dullus was fine, but the flight coming into State College was the bumpiest one I ever experienced. We were dropping six to ten feet at times in the air and I remember the stewardess still trying to serve drinks and peanuts on the flight until it got worse. Most of the peanuts ended up on the floor as my arms were just flailing every time we dropped. I was so glad when the plane landed safely and I remember it was calmly snowing when I left the plane.

  2. I’m not as familiar with the web 2.0 apps and identity management, but i DO know that IBM and others are working on middleware that will allow virtual world users to carry identity between worlds (assuming the publishers of said worlds include the necessary plugins). Theoretically, I’d be able to move pieces of my identity from Second Life, to World of Warcraft, to There, to whatever other world I want to explore next.

    It’s all identity right? Whether it be my 3D avatar, or my preferred handle on the web. We’re getting there…

  3. Interestingly (or perhaps synchronicitously), I got the following e-mail this am:

    “As a courtesy, we are notifying you that Spokeo users have found the following accounts for you: Flickr stevier on Flickr Digg stevier on Digg Vox stevier on Vox If you would like to make these accounts private, please change the privacy settings on the original network and Spokeo will update its search results to reflect your changes. To find your friends on Spokeo, signup now. This is a one-time courtesy notification about your online privacy. If you wish to opt out of all future emails, click here. Spokeo respects the privacy policies of your social networks. Your content can only be read in Spokeo by the same people allowed to read it in your network. Want to know more? Read our privacy policy. Copyright © 2008 Spokeo, Inc. All rights reserved. 1685 Plymouth Street #200, Mountain View, CA 94043″

    Spokeo is clearly one of the places that aggregates one’s identity. However, since I didn’t ask for the e-mail, and also didn’t ask for them to aggregate all the “me’s” out there, I find it kind of jarring that they are spamming me (soliciting me?) to indirectly become a member of their site.

    Definitely a weird way to start the day. Besides, they missed a few of me along the way. 🙂

  4. Stevie … interesting. I have used Claim ID in the past to try and aggregate my online identities, but it doesn’t give me what I am really after. There are lots of things going on at the moment in this space — between OpenID, OAuth, and several of the other services that are hitting this space, there appears to be some movement. I have thought about doing a “30 Day Trial” of posting only to my blog (pictures, tweets, and the like) and seeing how it feels. Only time will tell how it all works out.

    That whole spokeo thing is a little freaky … I’m not down with someone else working to aggregate my identity for me — although that’s actually what happens in the model we are in. Thanks for the comment.

  5. I’ve been thinking about just this lately as well. As I expand further into the world of web 2.0 I find it harder and harder to explore new spaces because I have fewer and fewer contacts in each space. Recently joined twitter (I begged friends to join me) flickr and pownce and feel odd and alone in those two spaces, no sure what to do? How do you determine what is a useful app without your network? The voices are right, identity and connection should not have to be rebuild everywhere we travel online!

  6. I completely agree and have also been thinking about this lately. I even mentioned to my husband recently that I think when babies are born they should be assigned a social security number and webspace. Maybe we can just have one online repository for a person’s profile and then we can just update in that ONE SPOT for the rest of our lives. Sure would make things easier.

  7. I’m developing guilt for all of the fractured parts of me that I don’t update. The electrons in my MySpace page will decay before I update it again. I hate where MySpace went. I only update Facebook when I need to contact someone else through Facebook. I still haven’t figured out what the big deal is about LinkedIn — none of my growing list of contacts does anything there, but I suppose it might help the next time I change towns. I just recently got back into Twitter and I’ve changed the focus of my personal blog. I keep meaning to upload pictures to Flickr, but I keep getting distracted.

    Ultimately, I have to wonder what a new social tool will help me do before I add yet another application. The novelty has worn off. I feel stretched thin and my social network is saturated. So my questions are about utility now.

    If I go to uber-aggregation route (which I plan to attempt in April), I’m doing it on my terms and in ways that don’t store passwords to multiple accounts with an external company. That trend worries me.

  8. Pingback: Tech Bits » Digital Identity, Social Networks and Learning Communities

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