Monday, January 08, 2007

Identity & Behaviour

I spend my working day devising ways of consolidating people's identities in order to help them minimise the number of UserIDs/Passwords they have to remember and in order to help them portray a consistent online "persona".

I have to admit that I have assumed that this is what people want. But is it?

It would seem that the younger generation are more fickle than that. The BBC, in a recent "bill board" article (available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6234663.stm), reported that research in the US suggests that teenagers are happy to ditch their UserIDs or eMail Addresses in favour of new ones on a quite random basis.

Indeed, it would also seem that they are quite keen on having multiple identities portraying very different personalities. This, I can understand. After all, I have my "Identity Management Consultant" persona online in the form of this blog but I also have my "Sporting Athlete" persona online in the form of my hockey club website (available at http://www.eastantrim.co.uk/). I am very much the same person but the personality I portray through each is very different.

I can also understand that teenagers don't know who they are and will constantly change their online identity until they find an identity that they feel comfortable with. Maybe I have aged sufficiently to either be happy with my current identity or just too busy to attempt to alter it.

I will readily admit to having had the same email address and the same phone number for as long as I can remember. The kids at my hockey club seem to change both quite regularly.

So, maybe the world of Identity Management has a new challenge. Maybe there are users who would be horrified at the thought of only having a single identity? Thankfully for those users, Identity Management is still struggling to gain momentum within the enterprise world. The world where multiple identities are common place (and where those users live) is a social world within which Identity Management is not yet welcome. Does anyone remember Microsoft Passport?
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