By Peter Horne
My recent post about online identity, “How to Think about Privacy and Managing Your Online Identity” discussed the fact that we don’t own our identities, as they are simply identifiers inside processes that we don’t control. My proposition was that because we can’t control the processes that control our identities, we only have limited scope for control. Basically, we can choose what processes we enter, and, once in them, we can choose what we do; but, other than that, we have no control. So we just have to be judicious about what we choose to reveal about ourselves.
We Need an Alternative Concept to "Identity"
But is that all that we can do? I think the answer is in two parts. The first part is that, at this point in time, that is all we are able to do, and the second part is that we are accepting that this is the way the online world works. But what if we change the way we think about identity - will we change what we accept? If we change what we accept, will the way we have to operate online change with it?
The problem with "identity" is that it is ethereal, and we cannot measure or manage it. We need to define identity in a way that is concrete, measurable, and something that has intrinsic value that is worth defending.