Sunday, February 20, 2011

The tethered thought bubble

Am sure most of us have grown up reading some form of comic book. It must have been a curious mix of Indrajal, DC, War, Asterix, Archies, TinTin, Chacha Chowdhary, Amar Chitra Katha and so on. Every character in these comics spoke to us readers in little bubbles with a pointy end aimed at the character. THAT is how we figured who was saying what and with what emotion. In comics like Asterix and TinTin it also helped us define our image of the personality of the characters, their voices and their behaviour. You had to read them again and again to discover things in their personalities that changed as we grew up

In real life to know a person is to interact with him or her over long hours, over conversations, over politics, interpersonal relationships and so on. One can never 'know' a person unless you have spent time with him or her and even after that we can never know how the person is in his personal space. Years can change and wax and wane the depth of knowing. New people / characters join in and out of our personal life and professional arenas.

We have now become those comic book characters! The things that we do on our social life while we are tethered to the internet through multiple devices define what we are and what our 'friends' think we are like. The thoughts communicated via the likes, comments, status messages, shares, tweets, blogs and so on hang above our heads in a virtual bubble. If one were to follow these thought bubbles of individuals, we would be able to get a fair approximation of what the individual would be like. We can judge a person's likes and dislikes, political leanings, preferences and personal life by mapping what he does via his social activities. I can visualise this as an invisible thought bubble hanging above the head with every changing updates of everything that ones does.

And worst still is that all of it is visible for all and sundry to see and analyse. And judge. So be careful what trails you leave behind everyday, someone might be keeping an excel of what you have in your thought bubble and create a character sketch based on it.

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