Online Identity

I read an article here about Facebook and the future and mobile devices and how great location based apps are going to be. And I agree. Location based apps on a mobile device are going to be HUGE. And so are online identities. And that is where things are going to collide, and I’m not talking about the frustration of managing multiple logins and passwords on different sites. That can be handled with OpenId or something similar.

Here’s the problem I have now, and what I can see will become worse for everyone else as they embrace more and more mobile location based apps: The person and identity I am for one place is not always the same person I am for another.


No really. Just like the person you are at work isn’t always the person you are at home, the person and information I present at LinkedIn is very different from the person I show you here. The person I am on is necessarily different from the one I am at, and neither one of those should ever be connected to my identity on, or at

All of us share different things in different ways when we are with each of our social groups, and this is before we add in the technology layer. First rule of fight club is nobody talks about fight club. Same for ClownPorn club. Not a word.

So what happens when you have 2 location based applications that cause your online identities to collide? What happens when you are out with your Omaha Steaks club and your location based PETA app pings that you are near? What if you are out with your mom at the mall when your phone starts buzzing like crazy for the frequent buyers deals at Hot Topic? Or worse, what happens when you are at the secret ClownPorn convention and your Family and Friends Facebook app announces your presence to your mom at the Quilting Bee Convention next door?

The point is that in real life we have roles that we play, and identities that go with those roles. We often keep these roles separate and isolated from the others. As more an more social groups are connected online, many users will absolutely need to be able to control what information is available to which group. You wouldn’t wear your clown suit to a job interview, right?

Do you have different identities either in real life or online? How do you keep them apart? How important is it?