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January 12, 2009

Mapping Me

Last Thursday I attended the workshop on digital identity co-ordinated by members of the three new projects funded by Foundation research grants this year (Rhizome, This is Me, and Assisting the W3C in opening social networking data).

Ahead of the event, moved partly by thinking about the day (and by Andy's earlier post) and partly by a post by Botgirl Questi I happened across the other day, I thought it might be interesting to try to sketch out a "mind map" of the principal digital sources where I create (or created) content which contributes in some way to the representation of my "digital identity".

(To be honest, I did this mostly for my own purposes, just so that I could visualise what that landscape looked like, but as my posts here have been somewhat thin on the ground (mainly because I don't feel I've had much of interest to say of late, to be honest - I did half-draft a post on that topic, but it was getting too depressing!), I thought I'd share it here.)


I've included only those sources where I've identified myself by my birth name or a nickname/userid that I frequently associate with it (usually "PeteJ" or "PeteJo" or something similar) - my "work-related" identity, if you like - even if the content isn't always directly related to my work activity, it is associated with the identity under which I perform that activity. In at least some of those sources, I've actually posted very little content, so there may be little more than a minimal "profile" page, but I guess even the presence of that minimal page "says" something about work-me in that it indicates that at some point I had sufficient interest to register for a service. On some other services, my main input has been comments on, or ratings of, or maybe just subscriptions to, the contributions of others, rather than any new "primary content" of my own.

The resulting "map" probably looks fairly complex, but I was mildly surprised that it was relatively limited in extent. And kinda pleased too, because over recent months I have been making some efforts to "prune" back some of the content which I've put "out there" over the years which has left me slightly uncomfortable about just how much information about myself I have disclosed, and to "take firmer control" of other bits. I've deleted a few accounts (Orkut, LinkedIn) which I wasn't making any real use of but which nevertheless disclosed a fair amount of information, and I've restricted access to content on others (notably by switching to "protected" status on Twitter). (Though, yes, I know, caches like Google's probably have some of it.)

I keep thinking of things I've missed: I've got some accounts with other virtual worlds which I used only once or twice; I've certainly registered on dozens of other "Web 2.0" services, played around for 15 minutes, and forgotten about them by the following day....


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A month or two ago, I started to do a similar exercise on somebody-not-me, just to see what I could piece together about them (much as you have done around yourself) from their public profiles: http://ouseful.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/time-to-get-scared-people/

How much of your graph do you think is recreatable starting with just the moniker "peteJ"?

I imagine quite a lot of it could be generated fairly easily :-)

I also have a profile on onXiam (which I forgot to include in the map even though I was referring to it as I was drawing it!), and that explicitly links my accounts on various services


(though I've recently made some of the info on there "private").

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