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Dreaming of a Better Social Web

The way the social Web currently works is that it forces people to manage identities. For instance, say I join Facebook primarily to keep in touch with old college buddies, and in that context I take on my “Kegger” persona. But on LinkedIn I prefer to project a more serious “Business” persona. Meanwhile, I use MySpace to manage the sensitive “Artist” side of me.

This is artificial and cumbersome, if not a little schizophrenic, because people are made of multitudes. People aren’t personas and identities. They are the whole of their interests and experiences, which is greater than the parts.

Some tentative strides are being made to break down the siloed nature of the social Web, mostly in the form of aggregators such as Socialthing, FriendFeed, and [hat tip to Glark for a thorough review]. However, I envision a digital environment that represents people as themselves in all of their experiences and engages them on the level of their interests, no matter how varied they may be.

In other words, don’t give us a place to manage a persona and share a manufactured identity. Give us a place to manage and share our interests and experiences. And build these virtual spaces on open modular platforms that enable members to share their interests and port apps and tools to other social sites or mobile devices, thus enhancing our actual interactions and not just our virtual ones.

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