This start of a paper and idea for an interactive Exercise to be done at the ID360 Conference was written by myself and Bill Aal. It was submitted to the 2014 ID360 Conference put on by the Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin.
Over people’s life cycles there are many different “identity events” that occur. While considering how people interact with an identity ecosystem the whole range of lifecycle events must be considered not just those in mid-life career people. We present a draft Field Guide to the different stages of life naming different key events and contextualizes what identity needs they might have. We also explore a user centric view of the hat looks at the digital lifecycle from the perspective of our needs as people in a social context. This may be contrasted with a view of the digital life cycle from governmental, civil society or business perspectives. We end with exploring the implications of going beyond the tension between privacy rights and institutional desires for security and authentication.
This paper builds on some of the key concepts of the paper also submitted to ID360 by Kaliya Hamlin entitled The Field Guide to Identity: Context, Identifiers, Attributes, Names and More
The first part of the paper draws the key concepts from that paper and go on to articulate to ask critical questions that are particular to the Digital Life Cycle. It is an attempt to layout a research program for a user centered view of the digital life cycle.
The second part of the paper charts key life stages and identity events along with community and institutional interactions that are likely. We would like to work with the organizers of the conference to have a interactive wall sized paper map available in the conference center as the event is happening to both consider each phase from the individual’s point of view and the institutions and potentially contextualize the contributions of different papers/presentations on the map.
Identity is socially constructed and contextual.
More and more at earlier and earlier ages, we are given identifiers by the state, medical institutions and educational institutions that signify who we are in the social field.
How do our identities evolve through an interaction between our bio/social roots and the institutional identifiers we are assigned?
When are we recognized as a person?
Do we think of ourselves as our drivers license, or library card identifiers??Does our online representation play out in the development as human identities?
Self as a Part of Something Greater
We are defined by who we are, connected to our identities as part of something greater.
Do online identities support that sense of being part of a larger whole?
Context of Observation
The context of observation matters for shaping our identities. It defines the scope of our freedom expression our ability to make choices about context. There are three different types of observation that are quite different.
Being Seen – a mutual act. I see you, You see me. We see each other. ?How do digital social networking identities help us see each other?
Being Watched – This is where one is observed but it is not known by the person who is looked at. There may be interaction between actors, but there is less of an “I- thou” quality. How do we know when we are being watched? In small society social interactions, we grow up being watched and knowing that we are being cared for.
How do our online identities help us be seen as we mature?
Being Stalked – This is what happens when the watching shifts from an appropriate happenstance window of time and space to watching over time and space – to following and monitoring our behavior without our knowledge. Recent attention to government surveillance and corporate access to our most intimate online interactions gives rise to anxiety over privacy/anonymity.
How do we create principles that allow for control over the stalking?
Self in Mass Society
The self is shaped differently by living in a mass society.
The first systems of mass identity were paper and bureaucratic record keeping of the state as way to give abstract identity to citizens to provide them services and to control their movement. It is vital to remember that we are not our government issued paperwork.
We are people with our own identities, our own relational lives in our communities. We must not mistake how identity in mass society operates for what it is a system, a set of technologies to manage identity in mass society.
How can we create systems of digital identity that recognize and support our having continuity across governmental, educational and medical systems, that protect our first amendment and privacy rights?
Self in Communities
Communities provide the middle ground in between the Small Society and Mass Society modalities of Identity. Communities of interest, communities of practice and geography give us the affordance to move between different contexts and develop different aspects of ourselves. This type of contextual movement and flexibility is part of what it mean to live in cities and particularly large cities, where people in one context would not necessarily share other contexts. We need to work to ensure the freedom to move between communities is not implicitly eroded in the digital realm. One key way to do this is to build digital systems that people have the capacity to use non-corelateable identifiers (pseudonyms) across different contexts they do not want linked.
Self in relationship to Employers
The power relationship between an employee and an employer is quite clear. This power relationship is NOT the same of an individual citizen’s relative to their government or the power relationship of a person relative to communities they participate in. There is a tension between the employers rights and responsibilities and the individual employees rights and responsibilities.
For example, should an employer have the “right” to access an employee’s private social network activities, or surveillance of their life outside the workplace?
What are the digital assets that are uniquely the employer or employee?
How can standards apply across the business world??
Other areas we wish to explore:
- Self in Relation to Peers
- Self in Relation to the Education System
- Self in Relationship to the Medical System and Social Services
- Self in Relation to the State
Power and Context
The Self in a Small society is embedded in a social mesh one can not escape. There is no “other place” and one is defined in that society and because it is so small one can not leave. The self in a Mass society is in a power relationship with the state. Where one has rights but one also must use the identification system they issue and manage to interact and connect with it.
The self in community gets to navigate a myriad of different communities ones each with its own social constructions and how power operates and flows within it. (egalitarian, religions, social)communities, work places (traditional owner – worker | worker owners | holocracy). These communities, needs and responsibilities change over a person’s lifetime.
How can consistent, yet user centered identity frame works support this development?
Where to Start
The start of all our conversations about people’s identity comes from being embodied being in a social context. Online digital identifiers and systems at their best should support the unfolding of our identities, help us access institutional and government services, as well as help those systems provide better service.
Contexts in which Identity Lifecycle issues arise:
We are at the beginning stages of exploring how from a person’s perspective, their online identities can evolve. This is in the process of being refined by looking at the identity needs of the individual, the state and businesses and where those interests might clash. This is a long term research project that we are initiating The idea is to go beyond the usual clashes of privacy and personal rights vs big data. Etc/
This is the beginning of a research project that we are just initiating.
We invite the collaboration of the ID360 and other professional and academic communities.
|Person’s View||Institutional View|
|National Identity Number|
|Enrollment in Mass Society|
|Online social networks|
|Self Expression / Identity Exploration Online|
|Owner of major items such as|
|Computers / Portable Devices|
|local, state/provincial and national government, rights and responsibilities|
|(Taxation, licensing, relation to court systems, permits etc)|
|Voting Eligibility, residential status, citizenship, entitlement programs|
|Deteriorating Mental /Physical Condition|
|Post Death Digital Life|
Markus Sabadello says
In all the years of IIW, it feels like identity has always been modeled in such limited ways. It is always just about logging in, and about simple profile data, not more. I don’t think anyone has (openly) attempted to actually model online identity in a way that includes all the aspects you describe, e.g. relationships to peers, community, society, state, etc. What if someone created a schema/ontology/dictionary that captured all of this with all the details. Would that be useful, or would it be scary.