So its been over a full week since my last post (as a recovering Catholic, that phrase sounds really familiar) ... I have been on the road and have had little time to pull thoughts together in any real sense, but that doesn't mean my head hasn't been working overtime. A while back I was invited to give a talk at the University of South Florida, so I jumped on a plane and headed to Tampa last Thursday to talk to a group of faculty, staff, and students about student expectations and the tools we are looking at to engage them. It was a blast -- right up until I had to come home. Let me put it this way, my plane took a nose dive towards the approach at the tiny State College airport -- that was not fun. We hit a wind sheer that dumped us into a dive that set alarms off in the plane. Ten minutes later and the captain told us we were not going to be landing in State College, but were heading for Baltimore, MD instead. Once in Baltimore we were given the option to get off there or head back to Atlanta. Given my relative expertise in geography I chose to stay in Baltimore because as I saw it, Maryland is closer to Pennsylvania. That's what I thought until they told us they were taking us home in taxi cabs -- long ride, short story, but I made it home around 4:30 AM. It was a mess and has me thinking very seriously about ever traveling in or out of State College in the months of December, January, February, or March. Home is a good thing.
The other thing that is tormenting me are the god damn voices in my head. I am dealing with all sorts of thoughts related to identity management at the moment. A lot of it is coming from conversations I have been having with colleagues at work, but some of it is emerging from the online space. Talk of the PLE and more recently, David Wiley's posts about his blog as the center to it all have pulled old thinking out into the front of my head. I am struggling with owning/shaping/building identity in ways that I haven't in quite some time. I have been thinking about how we go about creating new identities all over the web all the while rebuilding our social networks and profiles in an attempt to get them all up to our expectations. What I mean is that each time I want to investigate a new environment I have to beg others to join me just to see how the social structure works ... this makes me uncomfortable. What I prefer is to have one identity that I assert into new spaces and when I do, my netowrk and profile rolls along for the ride. I think as we move further and further down the social web path we'll need to figure out what it really means to own our online identity. My thinking has not yet jelled (but that voice keeps talking to me), but I do think there is an opportunity here to ignore the need to recreate one's self over and over again in multiple environments and instead just really focus in on honing it in one place. Is that too flaky? Is it to needy? Is it too much to ask?
I have been spending a lot of time recently talking about meta identity -- you know, all these small pieces of identity add up to a real identity. FLickr, del.icio.us, my blogs, twitter, and all the other little places I express myself online create my meta self. I'm not sure anymore. It feels very unsophisticated to me ... why not let me craft my identity and simply assert that credential into all the new spaces online. When that happens I simply gain a new attribute in my identity keychain (or whatever) that says something to the effect of, colecamplese can now log into Pownce and bring his whole network along for the ride (if they so choose)? Does that make any sense?
I have been watching a lot of these social "life stream" apps hit the web 2.0 space and am wondering why I have to actively add yet another account only to bring my identity back together. Why am I disaggregating myself only to maintain yet another profile to bring it all back together? I'm not sure of the answer, but I could sure use some help in thinking about it. Maybe the voices are really the just voice of the terrible winter we've had, or maybe the voices are right ... I'm not sure. What do you think?