Monday, October 10, 2005

Identity is my racket

Kim Cameron takes issue today with something I posted to an email list concerning the use of the term "Digital Identity." I'd seen a blurb for an XBOX game (called "Top Spin 2," a top-selling tennis competition) which included this paragraph:

"One of the top Xbox sports games, in both sales and popularity returns for another victory on Xbox 360. Everything you loved about Top Spin is back and made even better. The peerless player-creator is reborn with the powerful DigitalIdentity that truly puts you in the game. Experience the pro tour in venues that are alive and dynamic with environmental elements that react to your play. Characters are even more stunning with the addition of HD technology and the inclusion of the top players in the world like Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer. Put it all online and you once again have the greatest tennis game ever created.

"Digital Identity - Create realistic player models and customize them with the highest level of details. Hairstyles, shirts, shorts, shoes, etc. allow you to create a player with your look and your style. Coupled with the ability to taunt your opponents with different attitudes, Top Spin 2 truly gives your player his own Digital Identity!

Cameron says about this: "I think these player models - and all other virtual entities - are, in fact, examples of digital identities." And there, of course, is where we differ.

Identity is all about who you really are. Digital identity, then, is simply the on-line personification of "who you really are." Role-playing is about who you'd like to be. The game allows you to role-play, to create a persona and (at a stretch) to even create an avatar (that is, an on-line entity which represents you). What it doesn't do, though, is to help you create a digital identity.

Kim goes on to say: "People learn a lot about the world by playing with toys. The emergence of digital identity toys tell us that we are using the right name." My reply is, au contraire (sounds so much better than "Kim, you ignorant slut" especially to those too young to remember the real SNL) - misusing terms simply confuses those least able to differentiate. Still, if those of us in the "identity niche" can't agree, why should we expect the hoi polloi to understand?

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