My cousin Star lives in a high rise apartment building in Manhattan. She's a commercial real estate broker, five foot ten and stunning. The first thing you notice when you walk into her pad is the large painting she made in the style of Basquiat, and secondly if the blinds aren't drawn, the New York skyline. I hung out with her for a week and learned a lot about her, and our family that I never knew. What I appreciate about her is that she is excruciatingly honest and not shy about anything. Of course she has a marvelous sense of taste and an engaging personality, but there are many things about us that are radically different. What I love about her is hard to define, but it's stronger than ever.
This essay is about identity and some of the ideas I will take when I start looking at the right way to implement identity management. So the first reference you might want to consider is The Last ID.
It took Star all of three days to get to the point at which she was comfortable enough with me to perform two very annoying acts. The first was to force me to watch Loose Change, the hiphop video / obiter dicta comspiracy tape about who was actually behind the 9/11 attacks on America. I didn't realize that my cousin was a Truther and it took many hours for me to discover this, as close as we are. All the while we were watching this video that she had obviously not watched herself in many years, she kept voicing impatient concern that this might not be the proper version of the documentary. So while she is fundamentally on the Truther side of the equation, perhaps what she recalls being more convinced by something other than the exhibit in question. The second annoying act was for her to read, given my birthdate, my full horoscope and assert with confidence that it was quite accurate. In fact it was.
I could go on about other evidence I have to support my prejudicial notions about the practicality of Star which is hindered by such poisonous superstition, but she's more than good people, she's family. And today, all of that evidence is none of your gluten-free business. In a town where advertisements for Moving & Storage have taglines (I am not making this up) "Rick Perry: That voice in your head is not God", she fits right in.
I don't fit right in anywhere. So when I think of social media, as I often do, and in response to many such questions I reply "I don't have any friends." So when I consider what's missing from social media and identity management it is the extent to which it does not identify the importance of certain of your traits with any bidirectional weight.
If I cared as much about 9/11 today as I did when I was reading 'The Man Who Warned America' or 'The Looming Tower', I would have found my sojourn in NYC unbearable. As it stood, as I was referencing my iPad during the movie, I had a hard time recalling the name of that first book. If I had known somebody who died there that day, as Star did, the significance of the 'Truth' would be greater to me. So how could I adjust my affinity to such a 'friend' and still actually love her? It's easy to do in real life, but not done at all online. Star didn't even know what a Truther is, so it would not be something she would put in her profile for me to accept or reject in the first place.
The context for what I'm attempting to describe as an affinity system goes under the label 'WWID' for What Would I Do? And the first thing that I say about it is that it is a self-generated 'purity test' whose results you own and then selectively publish.
As oldheads on the internet know, one of the first viral documents was the Armory Purity Test. I took it about 22 years ago - that's an old document by internet standards. Well, it actually precedes the WWW; it was on USENET. (USENET seemed so huge back in the day). So if you bother to take the test, you will recognize peculiarities about the set of questions. But what if everybody were the author and everybody were the test takers and all of the results could be stored in a document under your control? This would be the beginning of WWID, except of course that there would be literally hundreds of such tests and many thousands of questions brought to bear. One could imagine, based upon the matter of 9/11 one such test with 500 questions.
I propose a system of such generalizable tests with each individual question indexed and tagged and then correlated into bunches. These bunches over time may vary but the more popular questions will tend to be central in them. People will then take these bunches of tests at their leisure, answering one or some fraction of all of the questions and have their answers under their secure control. Then for the purposes of affinity, the user of the system may publish results under an anonymous avatar linked to their Last ID in order to make matches.
Tests may be generated for any purpose. They may be job appliations, consumer preference surveys, political push tests, religious fidelity tests, entrance exams, special knowledge competency tests, psychological profiles, intelligence tests or medical diagnostics. Anywhere there is a question with an answer that in some way can be used to identify some personal trait of an individual, this system can be employed.
I am not your friend. But there is probably some subject upon which we could communicate a great deal for a couple of hours. I am trying to avoid short painful conversations, and engage long fruitful discussions. This tool would help a great deal more than Meetup + Facebook.