Openness Required for Identity Management

I came across an amazing presentation (linked from a blog post at experientia, an Italian design consultancy) from Trendbuero, a German consultancy firm that studies social change, the network economy, and innovations from both consumers and marketers.

The full slideshow can be downloaded here.

The theme of Trendbuero’s presentation (at the 13th German Trend Day + Workshop) was “Identity Management – Recognition instead of Attention”.

They propose that there have been three types of economies so far: the monetary economy, the attention economy, and the upcoming recognition economy. Whereas individuality was the ultimate goal of the attention economy (in which we find ourselves mostly in today), the recognition economy will be markedly different:

“Opportunities for design will continue to increase. Compulsory self-responsibility will force consumers to optimise their own self. This will call for deliberate decisions and new orientation frames. Identity will become a management assignment. Tomorrow’s economy will be shaped by the lack of identity and affiliation. Recognition will become the new key quantity.” (Slide 7)

In a monetary economy, our identities were already pre-set for us. Today we search for identities. Tomorrow, our chief task will be to manage our own identities or brands. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this self-actualization represents the zenith of personal development.

Relevant for my research, where we used to be private or public-private individuals, in the future we will be fully public individuals. “Identity is constructed — not found. Identity is created by feedback.” (Slide 9)

On reputation management, the presentation says,

“[O]ur own actions are becoming more important than status symbols. The more active consumers are, the more respect they gain. The individual’s reputation results from the degree of recognition experienced, it is an important orientation aid. If something earns recognition, it must be right. The active can communicate their actions via their networks.” (Slide 26)

But this activity cannot take place privately. Important is:

“[s]urpassing oneself: self-actualisation that is restricted to the self lacks meaningfulness. There is a lack of relevant challenges. Consumers find meaning when they become part of something, when they give themselves to the service of a higher cause or community. This meaning is quasi spiritual. Consumers have to believe in and love the project, group or cause in order to devote themselves. Companies need to see themselves as meaninggivers and sell values.” [Slide 31]

And this implies that people are going to require better tools to allow them to protect and control their own personal data if they are to share it online to nurture their reputations. Transparency will be paramount and privacy as we knew it through the monetary and attention economies will have to change in meaning.

The presentation concludes that we should study “egonomics”, an economy geared to the own self. Its dimensions are as follows:

  • Body: Healthstyle
  • Security: Authentification
  • Relationships: Connectivity
  • Recognition: Reputation
  • Self-actualisation: Creativity

For later analysis: how will the BRIC countries take to these different dimensions? Can we analyze this using Geert Hofstede’s research? Where else can we look to map these onto cultural values?