… maybe it’s you that looks back. This is what Thomas Vander Wal seems to be saying as I type this sitting on the floor at the back of a session called How to Leverage Solipsism.
Among the mind-grabbing threads he’s wrapping at a knitter’s pace around the room are questions of portability and ubiquity of information, and the related, if unwieldily-termed issue of “refindability.”
If we do have a “personal info cloud” around us – like Pig Pen with a PDA? – then which parts of this info do we want at our fingertips and what devices and protocols can we we use to get at it fast.
Vander Wal did a quick audience poll on who had ever emailed info to themselves just to keep track of it. Haven’t you? How’d he know that I’d cut and paste the South By Southwest registration location into an email last night so I could send it to myself at work and get it on my Blackberry?
No offense to the folks at Identity Commons or the Augmented Social Network. But it seems to me that the info I want, use, and trade with others and myself is a richer portrait of me than any deliberate, painstakingly considered “Identity” that I craft using screen names, avatars, photos and, God forbid, personal statements.
Of course, I’m developing a whole new perspective on this at my new job. If, as Vander Wal predicts, we are heading toward personal aggregation “across everything,” how secure is that everything and how porous and pore-level a portrait are we posting out there?
Panelist Don Turnbull of UT Austin just quoted a phrased used at amazon: “People are great data points.” That type of data is appealing, in its Google-like credibilty, but also kind of unsettling.


  1. Gawd, I wish I was there! Thanks for sharing these pearls of wisdom. Can’t wait to see you and catch up in Chicago next week.

  2. Thanks, Ruby! It was fun. I couldn’t stick around for the Activist Tech meeting Jon Lebkowsky put together, which is too bad…

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