11 April 2005

My teenage identity activists

About a year ago now, MSN UK implemented a change that prevented people from finding profiles of under-18s, unless they knew their direct screen name. I wrote about it at the time and since then my blog has been used intermittently as an alternative member directory.  Here's a sample:

i have any 1 got msn if u have plz give me ur addy and we will have fun chatting i am 14 and i am a girl from wales
Posted by: sophie at February 9, 2005 07:26 PM

joke i am 12
Posted by: sophie at February 9, 2005 07:28 PM

dani give me ur msn addy and we can chat and eny body else if they want is every 1 here send me ur addys plz plz plz plz plz
Posted by: sophie at February 9, 2005 07:30 PM

hia am so brd at da mo n ardli any1 is on msn im 14 n am a gal xxxx add me if u wnt
Posted by: alex at March 24, 2005 06:15 PM

hi do u want to talk
Posted by: suzanne at April 8, 2005 02:19 PM

I'd been deleting the personal information as it's posted but that felt a bit too mean, so now I've decided just switch comments off on that post.

Posted at 09:36 PM in Children and teens, Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

30 March 2004

Remember my name


^ From the site of husk mit navn, a street artist in Copenhagen whose tag translates as 'Remember my name' (via jill/txt). Like Jill, I particularly enjoy the idea of fliers posted around the city, with (unsigned) tear-off drawings instead of phone numbers. You can take the work, just 'husk mit navn'.

This reminded me of some recent statistics for Creative Commons licenses (via Matt), which show that 97% of licenses created so far require attribution. (67% of licenses restrict commercial use and 33% restrict derivative works.)

Posted at 10:10 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

27 March 2004

Identifying people rather than boxes

TV-Card is the first attempt (that I know of) to identify individual users to a digital TV service:

Real "pocket-sized televisual hard disks", the TV-Card smart cards make it possible to store the personal data of the viewer on a secured and portable support. They offer moreover the advertisers and editors the possibility to identify and to segment their audience/customers and to target not the household, but each member who composes it.

Some possible models:

  • Smart card giving access to privileged services: fan-club, soccer team, department stores...
  • Personalized smart cards: parental smart card (restricts access to X rated programs), specific access (banks, administrations…).
  • The potential for Personal Video Recorders is obvious, and the use of a smart card ensures compatibility with "the external world (PCs, interactive kiosks, electronic payment terminals, payment systems…)".

    I can't comment on the implementation - I'm sure games consoles still do a much better job of this kind of thing - but it's about time someone tried it for digital TV.

    (Found via Broadband Bananas)

    Posted at 10:22 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    26 March 2004

    Business card trading games

    ^See the original here

    Finally, people have started making business card-trading games. Life resembles Pokemon - folks at conferences trading cards... These particular OK/Cancel cards celebrate contemporary usability wonks - interaction design experts. The designers... took an open-ended approach to the gameplay - each of the cards has four attributes, different for each usability designer. But not specified within any ruleset! So people can make up their own game to go along with the scenario.

    From game girl advance

    Posted at 11:06 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Portable players

    Terra Nova muses on a suggestion made by Peter Molyneux at the Game Developers' Conference:

    'Wouldn't it be nice if in the future player profiles could be exchanged between games. Somehow games might collect, save, and then share player meta-info with other games. Then games could then adapt and configure themselves using this information to enhance the player experience.'

    On the face of it, Peter's idea seems interesting, especially teleported into MMOG space. Could there be a universe of confederated MMOGs linked by shared player meta information? But why stop with just meta-information, why not also the outright transfer of characters?

    Would this lower the barrier of entry of players to participate in small MMOGs and thereby encourage a vibrant, innovative, game-design culture? This smacks of nuttiness for those of you who played AD&D and can recall endless Game Master (GM) "multi-universe" arguments (how to move characters between different GM universes), but is it a bridge that needs to be crossed?

    Posted at 10:55 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    21 March 2004

    Just enough ID

    Six Apart's TypeKey seems to be a suitably light (and ethical) identity solution for the blogosphere:

    TypeKey is a free, open system providing a central identity that anyone can use to log in and post comments on blogs and other web sites.

    Why should I use TypeKey?

    TypeKey helps ensure that people who comment on a site have a verified identity, keeping conversations on track and helping to prevent abusive or offensive content (comment spam) from being posted. Sites that enable TypeKey have better accountability for the content that's being published.

    As a TypeKey user, you get your own free TypeKey Profile Page, displaying only the information you choose to share. Those who are interested in finding out more about the person behind the comments on a site can visit the identity page to see what information is publicly available. You can even publish a TypeKey Profile Page while remaining completely anonymous.

    You share only the information you choose to ("You can even publish a TypeKey Profile Page while remaining completely anonymous"), it's free, and Six Apart won't share your details without your permission. While seeking to tackle comment spam, this service is also a great opportunity for commenters who don't have a blog or personal site of their own to take some ownership of their online identity and make themselves known to the blogs they read and comment on. A wonderfully sociable solution.

    Showing similar restraint is Maciej Cegłowski and Joshua Schachter's LOAF (via Many-to-Many):

    LOAF creates and maintains a database of all your correspondents, defined as people to whom you have sent email at least once...

    When you receive an email from an address you have not previously written to, LOAF checks to see if the email address is known to any of your existing correspondents. This essentially sorts incoming email into three categories:

    Mail from complete strangers
    These are people whom you do not know, and who are also unknown to your correspondents.

    Mail from partial strangers
    These are people you have never sent email to, but who have gotten email from at least one of your own correspondents. This email may deserve more attention, since at least one of your correspondents took the time to write back to the person.

    Mail from people you know
    This last category consists of people whom you have written to before. Presumably this is email you're most interested in, unless it's another forward from your mom.

    Mail [from partial strangers] can be further classified by counting how many correspondents you and the sender have in common.

    I haven't played with either yet but hope they're as good as they sound.

    Posted at 02:10 PM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    24 February 2004

    LiveJournal now produces FOAF

    So LiveJournal, a journals service primarily used by young people is now auto-generating FOAF. My LiveJournal FOAF file contains all of my interests, my friends, my URL and date of birth! I didn't request this and wasn't notified of the update. I know that LiveJournal is probably doing this with the best of intentions - in the same spirit as their decision to publish LiveJournal statistics - but I have some concerns about the auto-generation of FOAF for younger users. Do we really want to give their details away more freely, or allow new services to build around the friend lists they've built within the semi-private environment of LiveJournal?

    Posted at 12:57 PM in Children and teens, Identity | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    16 February 2004

    ETech: Social software for children


    My talk focused on the findings of the BBC identity group’s qualitative research and usability testing with children and teens. I shared insights into Jessica and Jake's approaches to identity management, friendship and group membership, with the view to inform actual product development work in this area.

    While the purpose of my talk was to stimulate interest in the question: How can we ensure children’s safety while letting them have expressive identities in social software?, I also gave some of my own opinions about the appropriateness - or not - of existing social software, and speculated about some positive future directions that wikis and weblogs could take (e.g. using RSS syndication to involve parents in the moderation of social spaces for children). I then very briefly presented my work-in-progress on a site for children who collect things (design-only so far) - WikiWorm. Thanks to Matt for his design work and Deborah for her delightfully wriggly worm logo.

    My motivation is to ensure that children continue to have the right to be present in public; to enjoy the benefits of social software and the good social capital it can generate, and to have a public voice. Digital spaces are particularly important given the social context in the UK, where a child playing freely outside is less common and teens don’t feel welcome in public space.

    My presentation (with additional notes) is now available for download - sorry for the delay. Many other ETech 2004 presentations are available on the O'Reilly conference site and session notes are on their wiki. There is also talk of a ConConUK, which I'll definitely make it to if it's on the 23rd.

    I hope to share some of my emerging thoughts about this year's conference here, as soon as they've emerged ;-)

    Posted at 11:57 AM in Children and teens, Identity, Social software | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    23 January 2004

    Writing the self

    In his Guardian review of Jerome Bruner's Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life Galen Strawson challenges the claim that "we create or invent the self specifically by 'writing' and 'storying' it":

    Is any of this true? Do we create ourselves? Is the narrativity view a profound and universal insight into the human condition? It's a partial truth at best, true enough for some, completely false for others. There is a deep divide in our species. On one side, the narrators: those who are indeed intensely narrative, self-storying, Homeric, in their sense of life and self, whether they look to the past or the future. On the other side, the non-narrators: those who live life in a fundamentally non-storytelling fashion, who may have little sense of, or interest in, their own history, nor any wish to give their life a certain narrative shape. In between lies the great continuum of mixed cases.

    How did the narrativist orthodoxy arise? I suspect that it is because those who write about it and treat it as a universal truth about the human condition tend, like Bruner, to be profoundly narrative types themselves. The narrators control the current discussion, in fact, and assume that the way things are for them is the way they are for everyone else...

    I'm mostly in agreement with Galen Strawson's argument as it's confirmed by much of the research I've participated in around the question of 'what makes you you'. So many of the people interviewed (particularly mothers of young children) simply didn't know where to start. It wasn't something they had time to think about in the main. And when they did speak about it, it was largely in terms of their mothering role and the identities of others (especially their children).

    Interestingly, most of them enjoyed the exercise once they were prompted, and as they were being paid to participate, perhaps it felt less self-indulgent than it would have otherwise. As it turned out, they had many strong, idiosyncratic interests but they weren't tied up in conscious storytelling about the self.

    Posted at 11:32 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    03 January 2004

    FOAF and people search

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. This thinking was only partly prompted by the discovery of my Google shame. (When I was at Digital ID World 2003, Tom Coates broke the bad news to me: the first search result for "Fiona Romeo" in Google was the least flattering picture of me, ever. Other results included a credit on an INXS fanzine I helped produce when I was a teenager; a petition that ostentatiously describes its signatories as ‘Australia’s brightest young expats’; an unsubscribe request; and debating credits.)

    Anyway, this experience - and many others, less trivial ;-) - made me think about the ownership of my own identity. And this is where I've got to so far...

    People are not content but there is often content written about them. When someone is searching for someone else by name they are interested in one of two things (I think). Either they want to contact that person, or they want to learn more about them. In the first case, they want to find a 'primary' result for that person that contains their public contact details, e.g. an email address or personal site URL. Their FOAF file would be perfect in this case. In the second, they're satisfied with whatever documents containing that name have the most Google juice. There should be a way to differentiate between those two searches.

    I should be able to create a FOAF file which becomes the primary search result when someone searches for 'foaf Fiona Romeo' in a search engine, or when someone types 'FionaRomeo.person' (or something similar) into a web address bar.

    Content about me is still valid and of interest and should be displayed as a distinct set of search results (within the same page).

    Where there are many results for a name - because full names are not often unique (although mine seems to be) - results could be filtered by friends or location. And a 'profile' could be validated by reciprocal links between friends. ‘I know that this result for Fiona Romeo is the correct one because her friends link to it.’

    Maybe it's just me who wants this level of control? Maybe most other people are just that bit more relaxed than me...

    See also: Anil Dash's post about the growing ubiquity and simplicity of FOAF

    Posted at 09:17 AM in Identity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack