Monday, August 22, 2005

Have I reached the party to whom I'm speaking?

"Presence" - sort of an electronic in/out board - is being bruited about in identity discussion circles fairly heavily these days. Some (mostly in the instant messaging community or the telephone service providers) see presence as an alternative to - or a definition of - identity. Richard Grigonis, in an article in VON magazine last January talks about new initiatives to tie together presence data from various service providers, and it certainly is interesting. But presence is really only a small part of location - the "where" in the context of identity (who, what, when where, how and sometimes why). The digital object that represents a person (or other identifiable entity) has attributes related to location (e.g., "current location:" with values that could be "home", "office", "car", "New York", "China", etc.) which can include current methods of contact. But there are also attributes which relate to the contact service providers: "AIM screen name", "T-Mobile phone number", etc. Each of these can, in turn, be considered a digital persona carrying it's own attributes: is the phone/application turned on? Is the associated user available for communication?

Robin Wilton has a great example in his blog showing the difference between "presence" and "identity" using RADAR. We should remember that "presence", at least as it's understood today by the communications providers, means that the hardware is present and receiving - but can't tell us who is using the hardware.

Dave, Many thanks for that, and also for reminding me that in my laziness I'd forgotten that RADAR (sic) is an acronym!
Very few people remember 60 year old acronyms!
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