Identification — on or off?

Jon Udell contends that we’re hard-wired to recognize other humans:

Humans are hardwired to recognize faces, voices, gaits. We do it always and automatically. Perhaps so automatically that we don’t notice, for the most part, that we are doing it. When my teenage daughter comes downstairs there’s rarely any ambiguity about who she is.

Jon is disagreeing with David Weinberger, who says that identification defaults to off:

In the real world, we don’t identify everyone. We only identify those about whom we have doubts that we have to resolve for some purpose. Identifying is not the default in the real world. Nor, IMO, should it be online.

They’re both right. We instinctively recognize other people — nod to neighbors, chitchat with baristas, and identify those we know well by the smallest of gestures.
But we don’t ask for deep ID until its necessary. The social protocol for data is progressive disclosure. When do you learn someone’s street address? Their home town? Their salary? The default is to start shallow, and to get deeper with trust.
Computers are literal-minded critters. Knowing hair color and HIV status is all the same to them.
Perhaps identification defaults to on, but disclosure defaults to off.

One thought on “Identification — on or off?”

  1. I was thinking about this in other terms (workplace relations) just the other day. When you get a new coworker or boss, you don’t just immediately trust them, and you don’t trust them even after an amount of time _if you never interact with them_. Trust (and therefore disclosure) is some function of time and successful transaction count. ie. every transaction(conversation) we have where you *don’t* lie to me builds a little more trust. And as you say, disclosure is progressive… I’ll give you my email before I’ll give you my phone number before I’ll give you the location of my hidden house key.
    All comes back to trust being earned, not just granted.

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