Saturday, January 6, 2007

Thinking about identity

Danah Boyd has an interesting post on identity that I‘m working to get my arms around, ephemeral profiles (cuz losing passwords is common amongst teens). She talks about how the youngsters have no problem throwing away their identities and starting over. She had a nice list to sum up the situation:

  • Focusing on “lock-in” will fail with these teens – they don‘t care if they lose track of something they put hours into building.
  • Teens are not looking for universal anything; that‘s far too much of a burden if losing track of things is the norm.
  • Paying for an account can help truly engaged teens remember their accounts (i haven‘t found any teen who permanently lost their MMO login) but it can also be a strong deterrent for those accustomed to starting over.
  • The numbers that people cite concerning accounts created are astoundingly inaccurate and are worthless for talking about usage or unique participants.

It‘?ll be interesting to see if teens carry this behavior forward into the adult world. The last bullet is especially interesting. It‘s becoming increasingly more difficult (perhaps impossible?) to measure what is happening on the Internet. We all know that pageviews are meaningless, and if registrations are also meaningless then how do we make sense of what is going on? Perhaps it‘s time to start taking a more qualitative approach. Wouldn‘t that be the more “social” approach? I think this is why Danah‘s work is so very interesting. We know we can trust her observations.

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