Chris Pool is the founder of 4chan and Canvas and during his talk at the web 2.0 summit sponsored by O’Reilly he gives the below talk on online identity.
During his talk he is stating some very good points to which I can relate. One of his main issues the current way online identities are managed today by for example facebook and google is that you can only have one single identity which needs to be linked to the person who you are in real life. Having a connection between your online identity and your offline identity is not a bad thing at its self however, it is within the human nature to have multiple identities. The average human will have multiple identities and will be able to tell them apart from each other without having a mental issue. As an example the identity which identifies you as a person at the work will be most likely something else as how people identify you at your sports club. Your family will know you as yet another person.
When sharing with your facebook identity all people will be able to read what you share, with this facebook is a real one identity network. Google has launched google+ where you can use circles where you group people. You can share with everyone or with only the people in a certain circle. This is already a more segregated way of sharing and provides you to have multiple channels of expression under one single identity.
What Chris is promoting in his talk at the web 2.0 summit is that you should also have the option to post under an alias (handle). Just to make sure that you can explore all kinds of different things you do not need to inform other people about (or explicitly do not want other people to know). For example what do your coworkers need to know about your interest in ancient fire making techniques, maybe this is something private you only want to discuss online using your handle makefire1600 while you do not want your makefire friends to mingle with the people from you daily job.
There are all kinds of things to say for having the option to be able to multiple id’s online and it would be great if you can connect them all to one username/password protected main identity without showing who you really are. If companies like Google and facebook will ever go to this kind of account setup is a very big question and I do not think they will start supporting it however, it is a interesting question and theory to play with and I do think Chris has a point.