Boundries and Identities

Boundary activation consists of an increase in the salience of one such boundary, hence one identity, at the expense of others that are available. ”

The identity problem has three parts: the individual, the relationship, the other. Your identity is a bag of these triples; which I find useful to call persona. Over time various persona ebb and flow; so one’s identity is an extremely very dynamic construct. The other entities; found on the other side of these relationships are also extremely dynamic.

More often than not the others are institutions; clubs, gender, race, nation, guild, religion, bank, shop. Social networks. These must all be treated as first class citizens as we search for designs to solve the problem. We can do serious damage to the enterprise, even it it has a certain emotional appeal, if we ostracize these from the design.

Dick Hardt’s marvelously entertaining OSCON keynote consolidates a pile of sharp insights. But it concerns me that he appeals to the emotional when he suggests that the Identity 2.0 meme is about moving the individual to the center. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. It don’t think it helps our ability to find a functional design to activate a boundary that forces people to pick sides between the social institutions and the individuals. In that light the subtext in Dick’s talk regarding Canada seems particularly poignant.

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