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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Go with the flow - dynamic online identity

It's hard not to be inspired by the TLP crowd. On Wednesday the 7th there was a stellar class that brought together past, present and (perhaps) future TLP fellows along with some prominent angel investors. Hanging out with this group is literally like looking into the future of how our lives might be. When you see the world through the eyes of the TLP fellows, common daily practices start to look arcane and outdated

Last night I had this experience. Let me humbly offer a perspective on how some TLP startups might begin to change the notion of personal interests on Facebook.

Right now there isn't alot that is static on facebook. The wall, despite its name, is not a fixed or rigid structure. It is more like a stream that is updated with the flow of ideas. Pictures are the same, with new images tagged regularly. Personal identity is like this - ever changing. Our identity is really a continual flow of events and thoughts. Like a river we can be identified, but are ever changing.

As the famous quote goes "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus

Go back now and look at the "likes and interests" section of facebook. Look at the painfully static categories for favorite books, movies, tv shows and quotes. It seems hard to imagine that these are sections where you can just list things. They might not be true, or worse- outdated. In our fluid lives of changing tastes these static categories are most certainly ripe for upgrade. Already under contruction are the gerunds reading, watching, doing...

There are a proliferation of sites where people can share what they are actually reading, what shows they are watching and perhaps even tag video clips with their favorite quotes.

Ajay Kulkarni, Chase Garbarino and Keith Bessette are letting users break out of these static categories, and actively highlight the things that users are doing today. Their platforms are taking it one step further and facilitating real discussions around shared favorite content. What does Facebook do if you and your friend list the same TV show as an interest? Nothing. What does it do if you and your friend both post the same news article? Nothing. Your "interests" should not be defined by just what you list, it's the content you explore, what topics you enjoy discussing, and events you attend.

The question the I wonder next is, will facebook be able to stay relevent? or find itself eclipsed as a static relic while our identities flow by.

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