I like “Identity is a Story“. Story is a very nice metaphor for what most people mean when they talk about some thing’s identity. He quotes:
Rorty says in her introduction:
“Why are we interested in someone being the same person, and not merely the same human being or physical object? One reason is primarily retrospective: we need to know whom to reward and whom to punish for actions performed when “they” were acknowledgedly different in some respects from the present population. But we have more forward-looking reasons as well: we want to know what traits remain constant so that we can know what we can expect from the persons around us. We assign crucial responsibilities to individuals, assume important continuing relationships to them in the belief that certain of their traits are relatively constant or predictible.”
and then goes on to suggest that the useful definition of identity is as a story.
The story metaphor is very nice. It’s very rich and complex. Stories have chronology, characters, statements, a story teller; and often a hero. The story creates an identity for the hero. Which is just one of many such stories. The story teller is sometimes omniscient; and this is how some people view the modern state, but sometimes he’s just another protagonist.
Implementors of simple identity systems often mistake account relationship for identity. In the story model of identity we don’t need to call it a mistake because it is just a particular kind of story. One with only two characters, and usually the story teller is the implementor and his product manager.