A Contrarian View of Identity/Case Assumption: You are only your legal name… (5H)

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Session Topic: A Contrarians View of Identity: Only Real Names

Convener: Heather Vescent

Notes-taker(s): Heather Vescent

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Blog post found at: http://www.heathervescent.com/heathervescent/2011/10/a-contrarians-view-of-identity-only-real-names.html

A Contrarian's View of Identity: Only Real Names

When I was at IIW earlier this week, I held a session called, "A Contrarian View of Identity: Envision a World with Only Real Names."

The ground rules of this session were:

  • There is no discussion. We are starting with the assumption that real names are the only reality.
  • No dystopian or negative perspectives (relieved this for last 5 minutes of info gathering)

I then asked those in the room to close their eyes. Take a deep breath. Envision all of the identities that you use online and out in the world. See them moving to the middle and coming together, becoming one identity, and that name is your real legal name. If there is any negativity coming up with this, just put it aside for the moment. Sit with this vision of your identity as your real legal name. Take another deep breath. Pause. Now open your eyes.

Here's what we came up with.

  • Make it easier to decide what I won’t do online, simplify decisions
  • Stop doing things on line.
  • I changed my name to one I like.
  • Transparency: More empathy because I see you
  • Easier to find connections between people and create opportunities, because you see all capabilities. E.g. not only limited to see me as someone who just does this...
  • People would be nicer to each other if tied to a single ID.
  • Alleviates Simplifies – don’t have to manage multiple personas don’t have to know the context of relationships.
  • Better connected to the real you – See multifaceted people.
  • Less Victimization, but sociopaths will always be sociopaths. There could be the chance that some people could really hurt and manipulate people.
  • Sociopaths will not stop/be deterred, people will find easier victims.
  • ** More protections for our privacy because we are more vulnerable. It’s an everyone problem so maybe governments act more.
  • If you can tell who I a:
    • easier to vote with the internet
    • eliminate Fake Public Policy Groups
    • literally find people easier (physically)
  • You own you -> others can’t impersonate you, lie about you as easily, harder to be impersonated, defrauded, protected.
  • Better connected to your history. (could be a pro or con)
  • Short Term vs. Long term effects (e.g less watching porn but ok to watch porn no stigma)
  • There would be fewer IIW Working Groups because Less work to do, save work.
  • Reaching your full potential w/o being able to explore ID. I would not have reached my human potential if I had not been able to explore with various IDs, even though I may not have/be/use them anymore.
  • Highly repressive governments would have a much easier time.

After 15 minutes of information gathering, I released the "No dystopian or negative perspectives" rule and all comments were welcome.

After the session, one person remarked that by requiring us to start with positive perspectives, we came up with some really interesting and creative responses. (That was my goal. ;) ).

I highly enjoyed taking on the contrarian view of Identity. It was refreshing to put my judgments and assumptions aside and try on a new, usually discarded view. Everyone who participated found the session highly interesting and at least one person mentioned they were going to try this technique with other topics. I found it a great way to see around my blind spots.