A few months ago I was talking to Steven Warburton
about Digital Identity and he implied that Digital Identity was part of a person's identity, not something that should be separated. It seemed a sensible statement and as I am not a sociologist I tend to have a fairly pragmatic view of what identity is. Some time ago I bought a copy of a book by Richard Jenkins called "Social Identity"
, with a view to better understanding the sociologists view however the book disappeared into my study and only recently resurfaced. With Steven Warburton's comment in my mind I have started reading Jenkins work, now I'm less than 50 pages in so my view may change, but for now i am forming an opinion that Digital Identity is more like clothes than what Jenkins is talking about in terms of identity.
Largely a person controls what clothes he wears and similarly a person largely controls what is present about them in the digital world. Lets try some examples:
- some people choose to mostly wear black and the DI analogy would be someone with a limited presence;
- others wear exotic outfits as with DI some have a very loud presence;
- some employers require staff to wear a uniform, and some employers require certain type of digital presence;
- over a number of years style changes in clothes and possibly with DI, an outfit from the 1990s would look as dated as a webpage of that era;
- friends may remember an amazing fancy dress costume, just as a digital photo of an event serves as a reminder;
- babies and some others do not have a say in what they wear, and some people do not control their own Digital Identity.
The analogy doesn't quite work as it is much easier to change what a person chooses from his wardrobe than it is to change a digital reputation. It maybe appropriate to think about hair dye, that can range from very temporary (washes out) to permanent (that will eventually grow out), or even hair styles, tattoos and piercings.