Monday, December 19, 2005

The word 'Identity'

I liked reading Phil's post about the word 'Identity'. This is one of the core issues surrounding the subject ... the definitions and understanding of the words. Without a common language and lexicon it becomes very difficult to nail down specifics on anything!

Years ago while looking into Identity I came across an article that discussed the origins of the word ... and it was a real breakthrough for me. From, Identity is:
[French identité, from Old French identite, from Late Latin identits, from Latin idem, the same (influenced by Late Latin essentits, being,, and identidem, repeatedly), from id, it. See i- in Indo-European Roots.]
"Being the same as" ... so the two core thoughts in this are that it is something that is derived from observing, and it is relative or comparative. There is an observer who assigns you identity by comparing you - or some aspect of you - to something else that is known. I believe this is the cornerstone of identity.
On the Word 'Identity'.

On the way back from a meeting in Salt Lake this afternoon, I was pondering the word 'identity' and the way it is used in the physical world and the way we use it in the world of IT. Something I heard on NPR set off this navel gazing--I can't remember what. Coincidentally, when I got to my office, I found this post from Tim Greyson on the living language of identity. And so, a post...

If I ask my wife, kids, or neighbors "what is identity?" they answer in various ways that I think reduce, at their most basic level, to this: "identity the sum total of who I uniqueness." It includes not only attributes like height, eye color, and so on, but also their personality, hopes, and dreams--everything that makes them them. One way of sussing this out is to ask: do identity twins have different identities? We would say yes, even when we can't tell them apart.


[Phil Windley's Technometria]


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