Saturday, December 21, 2013

In Defence of the word Persona

There is currently an argument occurring in the basement of the internet, far away from the ears and eyes of the users of the internet, it is discouraging the use of the word Persona. There are some very good historic reasons for this position. It is indeed important to ensure that there is a very good reason to create new words or new meanings for old words.  Change should always be very well justified.

My position is that we need a word that describes the result of a user / entity compartmentalizing components of their identity. The result is an identity but it is not the full or complete identity of the entity in question; it is a partial identity selected for many reasons including context, risk mitigation, privacy, reputation management, and indeed avoiding boring a circle of friends who have absolutely no interest in my composting exploits..

The word I would use is indeed Persona. I would make clear that the word normally describes the result of an entity having agency over their identity. The number of persona(s)/(e) (or whatever the plural of persona is) and their scope would most often be in the control of the entity. There are however examples of persona that are not fully in the control of the entity, examples such as the Doctor persona, in the UK the BMA has a degree of control over such a persona. Convicted criminals rightly have less control over their Convicted Criminal Persona, and Prisoner Persona than they might wish for, with convicted paedophiles having even less control.

Agency over a persona is an important consideration, I read recently the term "owned audience" in the context of a marketeers view of web-site users. As an audience member I resent the idea of being owned. Sadly Marketeers tend to use the word Persona as something that they can apply to an entity, rather than a view of their identity that the entity chooses to use. This Forbes article from March exemplifies this unfortunate perspective.  Getting the appropriate balance of the control over persona will be an important shift in the future. Many device manufacturers see us as commodities that they own, rather than individuals with rights over our "TV Viewer Persona" for example, they are creating devices that can assume control over the attributes of our Viewer Persona. Both Samsung and LG have demonstrated this approach, with LG going as far as creating a control that it actually ignored, and worse collecting Filenames from connected network devices.

So here's to the word Persona, and a growing understanding of the personal nature and value of a persona, and the importance of having agency over our Personae, where appropriate. In the Intention Economy this perspective will be key!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On the wisdom of young wizards!

Let it be known that not all young Wizards are as wise as Harry Potter. In addition, even Harry made a few faux-pas as he struggled to come to grips with his newly discovered powers. The trouble with IT professionals, though sometimes that last word has a hollow ring to it, is they don't fully comprehend that they are still young wizards, and worse they seem to have managed to persuade a gullible set out "business people" that they are highly proficient. I listened to Radio 4 this morning hearing non IT professionals defend the "impairment" of £40 million, based on the fact that it is quite normal, in the IT industry, for vast amounts of useless code to be written, and then "written-off", or as Glenda Jackson so eloquently translated for us... "So, does impairment mean poured down the drain?"

The fault lies in the assumption that if someone can put two Lego bricks together then the next question can be asked "Why can't they build a full size working model of the space shuttle?". The answer is quite simple they are not quire ready for that Spell yet, for they have yet to master a myriad of spells which would make the building of anything that uses more than 50 bricks quite beyond their reach. Excuse the mixed metaphors but as anyone who has tried to build the moving staircases of Hogwarts out of Lego knows, it's not quite as easy as you might think!

Sadly, most wizard schools, only teach the young wizards how to connect a few bricks together!