Multiple Digital Personality Syndrome (MDPS)


I can hear some techno-therapist reassuring his reclining client that Multiple Digital Personality Syndrome (MDPS), while serious if not properly managed, is a perfectly normal response to our unending ability to become anyone we want – whenever we want — in cyber space.


This new techno-malady started innocently enough about 5 years ago when we all needed to create zillion of different accounts with different emails and passwords for the sites we wanted to enter. To organize this potentially chaotic situation, we evolved different personas.


I, for one, have my generic email, my personal email, my work email, my linkedin and so forth. This seemingly innocent fracturing of our digital personality driven by a short term need has mutated into this new syndrome, MDPS, so that now, many of us have complex multiple personalities reflected in well designed profile pages on multiple social networking sites.


Now while many would look at this MDPS as a slightly amusing by-product of Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, MySpace et al, I see danger lurking in these multiple profiles.


If I want good advice about a computer problem from someone I met online, it would be useful to know if this person has credentials to warrant my trust. If I enter a chat room to discuss a topic that I am passionate about, I want to chat with real people – not bots.


I wonder how will we learn to balance the need for accountability with the right we have to reveal only as much about ourselves as we choose. I see that this issue will play itself out over and over again in the next few years as social networks dominate how we search, how we shop, how we even meet other people.


Perhaps, we must create a new type of balance that starts with the human element. We must start by introducing mutual trust and authentication into the digital ID environment. Much as we have it in the real world where, dependent on the circumstance, different types of identification are used to gain different levels of access. We must translate that model into the digital world too.


The technologies are here … now. Web 3.0 needs to become The Trusted Web; otherwise the web will soon feel like what today many experience in inferior, bot filled chat rooms – a pseudo experience meant to emulate real interaction between real people.   


Let’s keep it real people. Let’s create the Trusted Web.


Judy Shapiro

6 Responses

  1. I enjoyed your article. I believe that people supporting people and community supporting community is extremely important. We have created a social networking portal in Chico called Our goal is to connect members of the community to each other as well as business to business. We need to humanize our communication on the internet. We also have sister companies: and Our ultimate goal is to connect community to community. What a concept!

    Check us out:

  2. good insight i think i will have to read more on the subject more though

  3. Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your posts.

  4. Hi Judy. I’ve read a number of your posts and articles and I appreciate your call for creating a Trusted Web and your suggestions about rethinking community building. The unfortunate reality of being hyper-connected online is that it often comes at the expense of real world connections. In the spirit of leveraging technology to strengthen real world communities, my partners and I have developed a couple of online offerings: – real local commerce. Makes it easy for people to buy and sell with friends neighbors and independent businesses. – the Local Twitter directory. Makes it easy for people to make connections and share information via Twitter down to the ZIP code level.
    Grounding technology in the real world, and harnessing it as a tool to enhance rather than supplant face to face networks takes intention and discipline. I’m always glad to come across other voices calling for a similar focus, and would love to have your feedback on our offerings.



    • Yeah – tehcnology makes narrow casting possible at a geo level or even a zip code level which I love. Technology lets people find infromation/ topics relevant to them more efficiently than ever before. Thanks for making me aware of this. I appreciate it.

  5. Judy,

    A couple of trends that would seem to help move us toward your trusted Web and away from social media fragmentation:

    1) Identity 2.0, an open standards attempt move us more toward universal online credentials and even reputation ranking systems along the lines of what eBay does with its sellers. Dick Hardt, now of Microsoft, is a true thought leader in identity–he recently joined a number of well-respected folks in this area at Microsoft. See his “Infamous” Identity 2.0 presentation at if you haven’t already.

    2) Open collaboration platforms like the coming Google Wave (see, which will provide a single communications object that can act as e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, social networking, or collaborative editing platform.

    What the sem Web promises, as you may already be aware, is provide data integration possibilities that can enable better context, including fuller, more automated personal profiles. If you’re interested in how enterprises are using the sem Web already and what’s necessary to make it happen, please take a look at our report on the topic at

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