Friday, June 30, 2006

User Centric Identity: MY Take

I stumbled upon the User-centric Identity Discussion today and thought I would provide my thought on the same. As part of that article/post I ran in to the comment
"It's my identity. It is not one conferred upon me by an organization outside myself. It is not a representation of me in a context other than my autonomous and independent self, operating in the larger world we call the marketplace. This is the identity we hope to more fully empower by our various projects."
I am a bit confused about this one. I have never understood the concept of MY Identity. I understand what this is proposing but the way I see the identity, it is something beyond I, Me, Myself. As I have said earlier, that the identity can not exist in absence of relationship and so far I have not seen anything in these discussion that would change it. So, the idea of My identity, the way I see it, is just the way I have built an identity about myself based on the relationship I have with me. So, if I think I am the king of the world who is the most confident, blah, blah guy in the room, that is my identity about myself.
This does not mean that others have to accept my version of myself as the way they identify me. This mismatch in the external perceptions (i.e. external identity) and internal perceptions (i.e. My Identity) creates a lot of problems in the world but that is something I guess most of us know about.
Let's look at the second phrase of "not one conferred upon me by an organization" kind of surprised me. I am not sure I understand but which part of the identity of a person (besides the personal identity) is not conferred by external entity. Even our names and aliases are conferred by external entity (if "me" does not include parents, friends, siblings or even enemies in some cases). For that matter, if we want others to accept our new identity (as new names), we are dependent on "those organization" (which most probably will be courts, friends and family) to accept our new identity. This reminds me of a story titled "A table is a table" (Sorry could not find a link) which takes a look at a person who starts calling everyday objects by different name just for fun and over time forgets what rest of the world actually calls it and I am sure most of the people can come up with endings of what happens to him in the end.
I think the idea of "No body knows that you are a dog on internet" and escape that virtual identity provides from the real world identity has gotten people too much excited about the idea of them being able to control their identity. This may make be sound like a downer, a conformer, but it seems the complete control is not possible if you see the identity as the perception others have of you in their relationship with you.. I am as happy as the next person when it comes to the idea that every body should see me the way I see myself. But that does not work in real world. In real world the identity is governed by various thoughts, notions, interaction that other's have with me or about myself.
I am not sure whether I actually explained it well but the way I see it
user-centric identity is about an attempt to bring our internal identity closer to external identities. By collorary, there should be only one identity about myself in the world which should be same as MY Identity.

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