Who Are You? No, Seriously.
Jan Chipchase is a really smart man. He is a “human-behavior researcher” at Nokia. He has travelled the world trying to understand how humans interact with technology. Jan has many stories to tell. You can read them on his personal blog. And you can see him speak in places like TED.
New York Times columnist Sara Colbert tracked him down recently using his cellphone, off course, and was privy to many of his observations. Like his fascination for women’s handbags. Not the bag, silly, but what she carries inside. A photograph of the contents of a woman’s handbag is a window to her identity, what she considers essential, the weight she is willing to bear. There’s more fascinating stuff that Jan knows. Like prostitute ads in the Brazilian phone booth. Those are just names, probably fake names, coupled with real cellphone numbers — lending to Chipchase’s theory that in an increasingly transitory world, the cellphone is becoming the one fixed piece of our identity.
So who are you really? Some people think you are what you search. In August 2006 some of AOL’s search data leaked out and a user under an anonymous number ”4417749” turned up 62 year old Thelma Arnold a widow in remote Lilburn.
With cellphone number portability you can buy your phone number and carry it around switching carriers at will. Yet the digital remains of your every conversation, every SMS message you send stays etched in a bit of silicon on some server, someplace.
There are other attempts being made to nail your identity down in one place. Google bought-out GrandCentral is a digital phone central that brings together all your phone numbers down to one number from where you can access all your phones and voice mail boxes. The service is now available in the US, where users can go and reserve their number. Others, like Meebo, bring together all kinds of instant messaging applications on to one dashboard. Twine on the other hand is like a social network central. A place to organize, share and discover stuff you like.
Perhaps the most ambitious experiment of all of them is a service that’s been getting a lot of buzz. OpenId. One place that manages all your IDs and passwords for just about every site. OpenId is open at the moment so may be it is a good idea to go and get a username that could become the one that you can use across many, many sites in the future. To understand how OpenId works, listen to Dick Hardt at Identity Conference, talking about identity and the need for Identity 2.0.