I recently found a link to a great experiment called Personas which was created by Aaron Zinman, with help from Alex Dragulescu, Yannick Assogba and Judith Donath from MIT Media Lab where they created a program that is able to visually describe your online identity. Basically what you need to do is type in your name and it will quickly aggregate everything that you have done on the Internet and that includes bookmarking, blogging and tweets. After it collected all the online data it will display your “online identity” in a visual format, I tried it out myself and I have it displayed below. I think down the road, this tool would be great for market research, data mining and online behavior studies.
I believe that we are headed to a more visual based form of communication where we are able to communicate using symbols, icons, images and concise texts through interactive applications. Twitter and both desktop iPhone apps are good example where symbols are used to integrate with certain programs, even the ever popular “smiley icons” are still being used in SMS text and tweets; so I guess we are already there. It reminds me of the early forms of human language with the Egyptian and Aztec hieroglyphics, it’s like a cycle where we are returning back to symbolic language. Will it totally replace our current language of text? I doubt it but it’s a great supplement for those who do online communication and collaboration. Even today’s graphic designers, web designers and web developers find it as a useful tool for projects. I strongly suggest professionals and students alike to read up on semiotics, the study of symbols. I read Semiotics: The Basics by Dani Chandler, a book that takes a look at semiotics and how it is introduced into society and culture.
I encourage everyone to try Personas, not only will you know about your online self, but it’s also really fun ; )
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