Tuesday, 30 January 2007

In-Disposable Identities

All kids love to play dress up. Test it yourself. Throw some old clothing into a pile in the middle of room and watch what happens. Within seconds, like throwing themselves into leaves during Autumn, they will dive right into the centre and start to try on different outfits.

Look at me I am a butterfly!
Look at me I am a princess!
I am a spaceman!

Trying on different identities and seeing the fun you can have is just part of growing up.

Readwrite web had a post on throw-away identities which speaks to this very point. But I think that while kids manufature some identities, at the same time they have a deep rooted desire to have a core of people who they are always “themselves” with. Today, that’s manifested in instant messenger where kids don’t allow their 8000 myspaces friends to join, but rather keep it to their 100 closest mates.

And make no mistake about it. This network while larger than any generations that has come before it, will become crucial to help them navigate the ever-changing world around them. They will ping this hive to help find a job, they will reconnect from all over the world and they will use this network as their help network.

Richard McManus suggests that:

“As these teenagers mature, I would imagine they will settle on a set of identities and focus on building a reputation around their chosen identities.”

I think kids have already settled on their identities. There are the transient ones that fleeting as the advertising that is served to them, and the one that matters most, the 'in-disposable digital them' that is associated with their help network.


Mark said...

A very thoughtful commentary on this topic is the musing on ephemeral profiles by danah boyd. From danah's research field notes: "Sara created a MySpace using an email address that she made specifically for that purpose. After vacation, she couldn't remember her MySpace password (or her email password). She created a new MySpace page using a new throwaway email address. When i asked her if she was irritated that she had to do this after investing time in the previous profile, she said, "nah.. I had too many Friends that I didn't know anyways.""

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