It seems a lot of talk is going around about personal identity on the Web. I think we’ve been talking about this since around 1995 and it seems to be a constant concern of people. “How do I know you are you.” That’s a good question. Unless I’m standing in front of you you really don’t.
E-mail I send you or even snail mail I send you could be from someone else. Did you just talk to me on the phone or get a voice mail message from me? Are you sure?
We don’t really know. We make assumptions about identity all the time and never talk about it in any context other than our online identity. In a recent article in PCWorld online identity is discussed in regards to Google+:
At the recent event, Schmidt shared some of his thoughts on the newly launched Google+. He implied that the Google+ system is designed for building identity — the real issue of the Internet.
As Tech Crunch reports, Schmidt said Google tried to build a system that you could use for relationships over time. “Circles is particularly well-suited to the contact list you have in your phone,” he was quoted as saying.
The thing is, that for me I have at least two online identities I’d prefer to keep separate. One allows me to write on political, social, and religious issues that I find interesting and in a way that might not actually reflect my true feelings but is how I want to explore the issue. The separation is thin but it is still there. If you want to find out who my other personae is its easy enough to do and several people know me in real life by that name.
Still, I don’t want that personae linked to any of my social media accounts. So I’ve got to wonder how Google’s plan for using Google+ to build identities is going to work for me. I don’t want Google to control my identity, I want control of it.