Identity, Context, Preference and Persona

While exploring how Identity is an enabler for personalization of products and services, I recently pondered on the relationship between four interesting words: Identity, Context, Preference and Persona.  Dictionary definitions of the three words include:
  • Identity: "condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is."
  • Context: "the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc."
  • Preference: "that which is preferred; choice."
In other words, I might say about myself:
  • Identity is who I am
  • Context is what I am doing at a particular time
  • Preference is what I choose to think or do
I propose that the fourth word, Persona, is at the intersection of the first three concepts.  The dictionary defintion:
  • Persona: "the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality."
In other words, a Persona is a personality I choose to project in a particular circumstance.

Graphically, we may diagram the relationship as shown below:



Persona is not just a partial projection of one's identity.  It must take into account the context in which a person exists at the moment, and the preferences the person makes relative to that particular situation. Personalization of a product or service must be synchonized with the persona of a person at any relevant point in time - his or her current persona.

For example:
  1. My interest in photography is one of several attributes of my personal Identity.
  2. Last Saturday, my presence in a camera store less than two weeks before Christmas was my context at a particular time.
  3. My preference at that time was to find a replacement camera bag.
My current persona was essentially: 1)photography buff, 2)in a camera store, 3)with desire to buy a camera bag.

At that point, to present me with information about dairy farms in Idaho would clearly not be synchronized with my current persona, even though Idaho cows are a legitimate interest of mine.

As good fortune would have it, a very helpful sales person was very synchronized with my persona.  He showed me a great camera bag that would fit my needs, and knowing that Santa was coming soon, let me drool over a really cool, image-stabilized Nikon zoom lens.

Please let me know what you think about this concept.  I plan to share more thoughts in coming days.


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About

Discovering Identity was founded on blogs.sun.com in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at DiscoveringIdentity.com. In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

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The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Oracle Corporation, or any other person or organization.

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