Is there an Identity Crisis?


I spent most of the day today at Digital Identity forum. It had an interesting group of speakers and there was a lot to learn. Daniel Appelquist was chairing the first session – so Daniel, I and Nicky Hickman(ex-Vodafone and now independent) formed the ‘mobile’ contingent at the Digital Identity Forum (By the way, don’t forget to attend the Mobile 2.0 event organised by Daniel if you can make it. )

For, me the most interesting speaker was Bill Thompson , who in the UK, is regarded as a new media pioneer. I have been following Bill’s work for some time and his views are similar to mine. Bill was on a panel called ‘Is there an Identity Crisis’ and I raised a point elaborating Bill’s discussion that ..

I would worry if there were ‘no crisis’

Crisis is good!

It means that states/governments/authorities don’t have a stranglehold on all information/communication/Identity

Specifically, consider the case of Saudi Arabia where Bluetooth is used for dating and it cant be blocked (original article from the Washington post HERE)

From the washington post:

Before Bluetooth arrived, people here say, a man seeking to circumvent all that might write his phone number on something heavy enough to be thrown — usually a cassette tape — and toss it through a woman’s car window. He might wait outside a shop or by an ATM and furtively pass a woman a scrap of paper with his number or drop it on the floor to be picked up. He might keep a laminated sign in his car with his number printed on it to hold up to women in other cars.

Cellphones have changed such behavior in a hurry. In the past five years, the number of cellphone users in this country of 27 million people has increased from 1.7 million to 14.5 million, according to industry analysts. Cellphones permit young people to talk discreetly without a parent listening. Bluetooth, which allows high-speed transfer of photos, videos and text messages to others within a range of about 15 yards, enables them to communicate without even knowing each other’s phone numbers.

So, my view is .. yes there is an (identity/regulatory) crisis .. and its good ..

It’s a sign of a healthy society.

Crisis may be defined by different things in different parts of the world (for instance stopping Bluetooth dating in Saudi Arabia) .. but in any case, my libertarian ethos says that a no matter what the mechanisms of control – there will always be a ‘crisis’ because there will be someone attempting to subvert it.

The kind of non conformity (a ‘crisis’ in that country) as we see in the use of Bluetooth is a good thing.

Many thanks to Dave Birch of Consult Hyperion for inviting me to this conference.


  1. Crisis promts to further progress as a rule)