Can I have back my digital identity please?

I heard a funny story last night. Imagine you are at the bank, and decide to change banks. You don’t like your bank anymore. So you say to them “can I take my identity with me please?”. Of course the bank refuses. Quite rightly in a way, because they may have your details in a database, but don’t have your identity. Your identity, or your digital identity, is scattered in databases, directories, excel and word files across the globe. You have no control, you cannot claim back your digital identity, because it is not an identity. Your identity is what you have in the physical world. You only have a digital identity if you own it and control it. This of course is not possible… or is it?

So you think you control your identity?

So what makes your identity strong? Is it you?

Think about this… it is not what you say about yourself that makes your identity strong, it is what other people say. Clearly you have some influences, but it is not you that makes your identity strong, one could say its your reputation that is the backbone for your identity strength. Or is it?


I’ve been thinking about this lately, because you know it really doesn’t matter whether you have a good or a bad reputation. So long as you have one, and people are talking about you, your identity is strong. Your identity cannot be stolen. Persons with strongest identities are prominent figures nationally and internationally. A good President or a bad President, doesn’t matter, their identities are strong.

So does your identity=reputation? I made a post about this last month. I also published a paper in 2010 on this very subject. My conclusion both times was no, they are different, and need to be treated differently. This is true. Nevertheless I need to evolve this thinking a little, as it was missing some important observations.

The fact is the more references, i.e. people that refer to you, the stronger is your identity. Hence your identity is strengthened by exposure, and then by others pointing back at you, and saying that you are who you say you are. This is not reputation, this is your personal ecosystem. It is what they say that makes your personal ecosystem vibrant with positive or negative energy, i.e. your reputation.

So what? Well if it is so straight forward, then it should be possible for your digital identity to be equally strong. As long as the reference points (other digital identities) can point at a single digital identity (you) and claim that you are who you say you are digitally, then it should work, right?