Living in a State of “Anonymity PLUS”

Posted on October 12, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

As I sit here on this train, bound for the Meadowlands where I will undoubtedly watch the Jets destroy Randy Moss and the Vikings, it occurs to me that although unnamed, I am not anonymous in this crowd.  Miriam Webster offers the following 3 definitions of anonymous, none of which (save the most literal “not named”) describe my state on this train.

Anonymity would imply that I am unidentifiable, when that is not, in fact, the case.  The people who surround me here actually have access to enough data that they are able to categorize and classify me.  Despite the stigma around that concept, I am not concerned in the slightest.  Why? Because I control the data I am sharing with the people on this train.  In fact, because I control the inputs that define their impression or perception of me, I am actually excited for them to consume this “metadata on top of my physical presence.”

I wear a long sleeve green Rugby shirt in support of the Jets, which when paired with a time stamp (1 hour before game time) and location (on a train headed westward from Manhattan), identifies me as a Jets fan.  I am proud of this facet of my identity and wish to communicate it to all who will observe.  Why?

1)   I guess I seek the camaraderie. Other Jets fans in my presence will recognize me as one of their own

2)   I want to display that I welcome conversation and interaction with those who share my affiliation or interest

3)   I want to further the facet of my identity that I am showing, spread it if you will.  If I am able to convert others or strengthen/support the interest which I make visible, there is a reflective property where I actually strengthen my own identity (basic missionary theory)

4)   I see myself publicly tagged as “Jets” and it affirms my concept of myself and my level of commitment to what it represents.  The fact I make it visible to all reminds me that it is core to my identity

Clothes are but one example of a tool people use to communicate and control their public identity.  The woman to my left smiles upon eye contact, publicly sharing a “tag” of friendly (the most frequent tag on hyperpublic.com to date, btw), while the drunk to my right sits face cringed, communicating “misery” or “inapproachable.”  We were given the capacity to publicly display emotions through facial and body gestures, a sort of biological tagging system which non-verbally influences the level and type of engagement we have with our surrounding population.  These signals are completely public, the fact that we share them with everyone is an almost biological recognition that there is, indeed, potential value waiting to be extracted from those with who we share a physical, but not yet social relationship.

Our everyday, real world lives, do not exist within the bounds of true anonymity, yet the majority of internet products that attempt to digitally replicate or enhance real world life, feel an obligation to preserve the veneer of this false ideal for their users.  I believe we move through physical space in a state of “Anonymity PLUS.”  This is a state where we are aware that we are visible to an unfiltered public eye, and thus control and define the data which it is to our advantage and pleasure to broadcast widely.

Hyperpublic is an experiment in recreating that state of “Anonymity PLUS”.  There are no names unless you chose to tag yourself by one.  There is no such thing as private data here, but there is also no data here that you have not actively decided to push to the public.  There is undoubtedly value to be had by sharing that data which you want to be seen by all (think about the value of appearing at the top of Google results for example, how would you wish to define yourself to all who Google you). Our goal is simply to maximize that value by giving your public tags as broad a reach as we possible can.  You choose your green Rugby shirt when you get dressed in the morning, why not choose to display all the data you wish to communicate publicly?

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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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