Currently a product designer at Quora, and formerly at Facebook, Rebekah Cox is keenly aware of how today’s communication technologies influence the way others perceive us. Outside the philosophically problematic “true self,” how we communicate with each other literally forms our identity, says Cox. She defines identity, in its most basic form, “as a product of how you manage your attention and others’ access to that attention.” In other words, where you focus your attention assembles the experiences that shape you, but your attention is continuously interrupted by intruding desires, people, events, and now more than ever, digital communication.
What’s the Big Idea?
The technology that will win the future, according to Cox, is the mobile device that most effectively embeds you identity into your phone. Giving your phone number to someone grants them implicit permission to interrupt you when they want, essentially giving them permission to form your identity. “A mobile experience that truly represents your identity—in a way that both resembles and enhances an in-person conversation but still affords you control over how you portion out your attention and provides context—could tie the knot for the myriad communication channels available.”