Social Group Dynamics of Online Identity Production — ARRRG!

September 27, 2006

in Digital Identity, Social Networks, Strategic Foresight

I had to clip a couple of sections from this post Los Angeles 2026 in New Scientist by Bruce Sterling and picked up by WorldChanging. My bold highlights. Thing is, it’s not 2026 and it is scary enough to be almost today. Sometimes it is hard to make imaginations really reach out. There are dangers sure.

I’m in India not China, and certainly not working to create an identity production mentality. Still Bruce’s slant makes it clear why "Social Networking Sites" remain essentially broken. In that 2004 post I wrote "Fragmenting association systems does not enable better connections. Integration on to my desktop (address book / IM systems) at minimum and preferably into my cellphone is required ..". It hasn’t happened yet. One day it will. Controls will be with the users.

In the second paragraph Bruce slips into the darker side of rich old men. I’m more optimistic. I think we will create human centric systems owned by you and me. I think all the trends run against Bruce’s world. I only have to look at how my kids already manage privacy, to know that great conversation and dialogues come with trust. My kids will not be entering this world and I certainly don’t want to retire to it.

My Dad – he’s still alive, apparently – he sent me an email from China and said I ought to "recruit" Debbie into my "social group dynamics of online identity production". My Dad always talks like that. I haven’t seen Dad face-to-face in six years. Look: I am a 17-year-old male, okay? I don’t want to send Debbie any hotlinks and digital video. I want to take Debbie out! ……….

It’s not that we can’t do it: it’s that all our social relations have been reified with a clunky intensity. They’re digitized! And the networking hardware and software that pervasively surround us are built and owned by evil, old, rich corporate people! Social-networking systems aren’t teenagers! These machines are METHODICALLY KILLING OUR SOULS! If you don’t count wall-graffiti (good old spray paint), we have no means to spontaneously express ourselves. We can’t "find ourselves" – the market’s already found us and filled us with map pins. New Scientist

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