Tuesday, June 19, 2007



Jung had other contributions to psychology other than Personality Type. His concepts of Ego/Shadow, Self, Psyche, Conscious/Unconscious, Archetypes and Personas still resonate to this day, but in today's vernacular we use them in very different ways, just like Introvert/Extravert . Some of it can get pretty esoteric and spiritual, but since we're in using all of these as analogies and metaphors anyway, there's no reason why we can't borrow some of his ideas when structuring our view of the theoretical Internet psyche.

Persona, Greek for mask, is the "I," usually ideal aspects of ourselves, that we present to the outside world.
The Persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is (Jung) Originally the word Persona meant a mask worn by actors to indicate the role they played. On this level, it is both a protective covering and an asset in mixing with other people. Civilized society depends on interactions between people through the Persona. Essentially, it's the interface between the Extraverted and Introverted worlds as seen from the outside.

[The opposite of the Persona is the Anima/Animus, just so you know.]

Identity and Personas

We're constantly creating Personas online, every time we register a new name on a new site, create a new profile, or keep a cookie in our cache. Social networking is the epitome of Persona building, but we're suffering from
registrationitis on the Internet - constantly trying to get our ideal name (protecting it like a trademark) and filling out profiles with the same information again and again. We're in the throes of the ultimate personality disassociation neurosis- Multiple Persona Disorder.

Efforts like OpenID are an attempt to solve the problem, but if every social networking site attempts to become an OpenID service, we're right back where we started. It's too late for OpenID - I already have hundreds of Personas out there. Additionally, there's a danger to using *one* OpenID for all my web browsing (One Ring to Rule Them All)? I don't want my online sexual proclivities to be associated with my social chatting profiles, with my D&D and WoW profiles, with my business profiles, or with my banking.

I need Persona management, consolidation and compatibility with everything I've already got. I need to be able to organize, group, sort, separate, tag, control and craft my Personas. I need to know what web service contains what information about me, what other people have gathered about me, as well as controlling who gets said information. Server-based Persona management like OpenID only provides one aspect of my total Internet self - that of validation by a recognized authority (said authority varying in degrees of reputation). This validation process falls under Extraverted Feeling (Fe) - what is my communal status. Everything else falls under Introverted Feeling (Fi) - the intimate revealing of details of myself to those I trust to those who request it, or to whom I volunteer it. A server based system can't do this without dealing with bogged down buddy list databases.

P2P Profiles

When I want to find out something about somebody, usually the easiest way is to just ask. If I'm chatting with someone online however, the repeated "ASL" (age/sex/location) questions can get pretty damn annoying. Profile were created to solve that problem (
"Please read profile before pvting")- but it created other problems: profiles can be read by *anyone* who knows they're out there; I have to create a new profile every time I join a new social network; some profiles ask 'inappropriate' questions and I'm seen as hiding something if I don't fill out that section. Additionally, multiple profiles violate the principles in database and hypertext theories of 'write once, then refer' . Since the Mu system is P2P based, there's no reason why Persona management cannot be as well. Let me fill out my profile once, store it on my computer (securely encrypted) and then only share that information with those who ask for it (via public/private keys).

A Persona managment system would allow me to create multiple Personas for different situations (personal, business, social, erotic, gaming, anonymous, medical) and allow me to organize and use them at will. Information can be shared to others via P2P queries (using MySQL). This activity can separated from the ongoing active dialogue with a sidebar (or scrolling status bar), and some parts of it can be automated depending on varying reputation and relationship indices (there are some things, like 'ASL', which are extremely Extravertedly obvious, automatic and can be available to 'everyone').

Secondly, referring to somebody else's profile information requires 1) that their profile be public, 2) that the service be up and running (how many times have you heard in a chat room "Profiles are down"), and 3) that the information hasn't been changed by said Persona. I should be able to store what information I query from someone on my computer (or storage service if I so choose), so that I can refer to it whenever I want, regardless of my connectivity, the service dependability, or which social network they're a part of.

P2P profiles are
THE MySpace killer app. Social networking sites are just fancy profiles, and nothing more. The early pioneers of the social web created personal webpages on Geocities.

Some example Persona categories (or tags):
Domain Specific

There's lots of overlap between many of these types of Personas, and that's ok. A previously asked question/data item will already be filled out in a 'SuperPersona' database. What's more important is they're completely customizable by the end-user, and that the interface to such a database be dynamic and graphic (by default, a Venn diagram with drag and drop field markers)

What's most important is that a Persona is a measurement. A Persona is not built without interaction between the Introverted and the Extraverted - the Extraverted world demands a role for us, and we choose to which degree to fulfill that role. Therefore, a Persona is a measurement of that relationship. And once something is measured, it's 'real'.

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