Philip Sheldrake

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Who are you?

[Originally written for the CIPR Friday Roundup.]

Identity is not a black and white thing. Sure, at one end of the spectrum anonymity reigns. This is the world of 4chan, the popular image-based bulletin board from which famous memes such as lolcats and Rickrolling emerged. At the other end of the spectrum we have passport border control.

And in between we have many shades of identity.

Nightclub handstamps for example are needed only to ascertain who has already paid. Many a website cookie serves just to determine if you've dropped by before. A supermarket loyalty card serves just to build up an understanding of your shopping habits, and may be associated with a bank card proffered for payment.

OK, so what has this got to do with marketing and public relations?

Well knowing who you're dealing with and their associated reputation are part and parcel of business. And now that we have the Internet of machines connecting the Internet of people, that reputation and trustworthiness needs to be conveyed and understood digitally. This is considered so central to many aspects of the future growth of the Internet and related services that it even has its own European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme: Internet Privacy and Identity, Trust and Reputation Mechanisms.

This development has direct ramifications for organisations because, as Euan Semple puts it so beautifully, Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do. Google may have focused for the past decade or so on determining the relative authority of a webpage, its PageRank, but as Julio Romo explains this week on The Conversation, it is now rolling out AuthorRank.

At least he says his name is Julio Romo.