A recent report in the Wall Street Journal reveals that Deep Packet Inspection is making a comeback. DPI allows analysts to work over the packets you send out and mine them for patterns relevant to problems like, deciding which ads to send your way. Earlier versions of this technology encountered much blowback due to privacy concerns. The current generation of promoters say that privacy is respected. In discussing how the systems handle privacy, the promoters make some interesting revelations about a completely different matter: Personality. It turns out that if I want to target ads to you very closely, I will tailor my pitches in different ways at different times of the day. You're just not the same consumer at work as you are at home. In a very interesting shift, one vendor mentioned in the article, Kindsight, says that it delivers information not on people but on characters. Characters - just like game characters. Yes: The shifting of character identified by Turkle and others in social media worlds is verified in DPI of our online behavior in general. In fact our shifting selves are so distinct from one another that someone can make money by identifying and tracing the differences.
Do we have shifting identities offline as well? Is the person unified, or is each person actually many people in one? The formula for the Trinity is "One God, Three Persons," and if one objects that that seems awfully contradictory, one is told that it is simply a mystery, something that need not make sense to be true. It is true whether logical or not.
Are we mysteries like this? Can we be one person but also several characters at the same time? An 8-sided die is one unified object and 8 different objects, all at the same time. You might also say it is one object with 8 states. Or, it is one object that appears as a different object from time to time, according to some standard of what makes for a relevant difference.
When we play RPGs we typically make not one character but many. This portfolio of characters - does it basically just extend the same process of character creation that we deploy for our offline selves? A new face for the die? When Kindsight examines my packets, will it treat my game characters just as it treats my workday research character, my evening politics character, and my weekend shopper character? "O, that's his female rogue. She never buys anything. Don't send the ad until The Shopper comes back."