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The big players in social networking are setting a plodding pace of innovation. New startups, keen to offer useful and exciting new means of communication, have migrated wholesale to platform-based approaches. Constrained by what it means to be boxed into 140 characters or Facebook's vision of a lifestream, we're left without a compelling view of what "social" means on the web.
It's time to take back our identities, and with it the web. We'll discuss examples of how the web is more Awesome when people are a part of it (and not just a layer on top of a few companies' databases). We'll talk about what kinds of approaches make sense in this new world (and which don't), and discuss some successes (and failures) that have happened along the way.
Parts of this discussion will be technical; you can't build the web without some HTML, and we can't build a social web without getting our hands dirty. However, tech is boring. You can always look up how to do something - knowing why you want to do something is the hard part. We're going to look beyond the modern gold rush, and talk about ideas that have lasting value for content providers, producers, and consumers, and why you should care.
Back in 2003, photographer Robbie Cooper photographed dozens of portraits of online gameplayers alongside their avatars for a book called ALTER EGO. The book is an incredible illustration of the ways that digital platforms have transformed fixed physical characteristics into a virtual wardrobe that can be donned or dismissed with a few clicks of a button.
This phenomenon might be trivial if online identity were all "just a game"—but the truth is, the line between online and offline identity has increasingly blurred. Writing about a study he conducted exploring gender identity among MMO participants, researcher Lukas Blinka wrote in the journal Cyberpsychology in 2008 that “the data...shows that younger players tend to identify with — i.e. not to distinguish from — their avatars, and the younger the respondents were, the stronger the phenomenon."
What are the implications for traditional aspects of identity in a context where they can be so freely and fluidly altered? What does the ability to hide or disguise identity mean in particular for the experience of race — and racism — online? This panel will debate whether digital platforms can enhance racial engagement and understanding, or simply encourage conscienceless and consequence-free acts of hatred and abuse — and explore how online identity is forcing us to confront new ways of thinking about race, ethnicity and gender.
Reputation is a key dimension of online identity, but to date there hasn't been a great way to carry online reputation from site to site. This panel will explore best practice examples from different fields related to portable and contextual reputation systems.
How does a retailer, bank or any business know they’re interacting with you & not an imposter? Consumers need thoughtful, scalable & user-friendly authentication solutions to stop ID theft & protect reputations & assets. We’ll discuss ID theft & authentication, lessons learned addressing these problems, & how technology + new approaches are paving the way forward. ID fraud & authentication are discussed together because the challenges they create, when one fails & the other succeeds, are endless. ID theft is caused by a failure of authentication & is a concern for ANY industry that handles valuable assets – like money, credit cards, SSN, health records, or World of Warcraft characters. ID theft is commonly talked about & feared, but not always understood. We’ll discuss what it means & how it’s executed. We’ll also share ID theft examples, from mundane to insane & prove that the systems that allow this to happen are clearly broken. When it comes to authentication, a thief can convince someone that they are you, but a thief cannot convince you that he is you – the heart of why consumer participation & strong authentication are so important. When consumers are allowed to participate in transactions, identity theft stops. Architects, engineers & companies have approached authentication in a variety of ways. We’ll go through technical examples & lessons learned from these schemes & show that challenges still exist. We’ll then discuss current innovations & the path forward.
Please note: This session could be solo, dual or panel at SXSW staff's discretion. :)
The technology systems we create today let you to create the person you want to be. However, in using the technology system we are changed. What is the impact of technology on identity creation, individual privacy and self-value? And how can you as a technology creator, encourage certain behaviors through your system design?
Real-time/near real-time lifetracking: Is it a new type of self-reflection? Real-time communication/blogging/twitter allows us to go back in time and watch our emotional states: but do we get caught up in the reflection?
Emotional and physical augmentation are modern day plastic surgeries. Technology soon allows you to change yourself, if the minor changes in physical and emotional modules today aren't enough. Can't wait? Avatars allow us to create non-binding alternate versions of our self today, although they are locked into their own worlds.
Privacy & Self-Value:
When the world is watching, who do we become? What happens when the world lives in public? When the public values a different identity? Who do you become? Who do you help others become by your responses and attention?
Specific systems, rulesets and products that encourage specific behaviors.
Beyond your Demise: When the virtual you, lives on.
Scenario: When your virtual identity (or brand) takes on a life of its own?
11th–15th March 2011