Who are you? (or why Facebook Comments Won’t Work)

This is a pre-cursor to a series of post over the next few weeks discussing personal data, the web, and why mobile finally changes everything.  But before jumping into those posts, I wanted to do a quick post on the broader issue with identity on the web which has been greatly exemplified by Facebook Comments.

Who are you?

It’s a really simple, albeit vague question.  Because even if you’re truthful (and have one life), the answer is contextual.

  • On a job interview: you’re the sum of your professional experiences.
  • To a reporter: you’re an expert in a specific field
  • To your mother: you’re always her baby child
  • To your family: you’re one of a few (or many) mistakes you made growing up
  • To one group of friends: you’re a Saturday night party animal
  • To another group of friends: you’re something entirely different

So who are you?

The honest answer – you’re the combination of a bunch of different personality traits and interests that each sub-social group identifies with uniquely.

The short answer – it depends.

There in lies the major issue with Facebook Comments:  How can I have one identity – if I don’t.

This problem is the reason different social networks have developed across the web:

  • Facebook – remaining in touch with old friends
  • Address Book – close friends and business contacts
  • Linkedin – remaining in touch with professional contacts
  • Twitter – industry relationships, close relationships
  • Socialcast – True Team members
  • Fitbit – My fitness buddies

As more of my life becomes integrated with the web, the need to more deeply control who sees my data and how that data is used becomes that much more and more important.

And that creates the next great social opportunity on the web.

Solving for my real life social graph.

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