United Kingdom's Department of Business, Innovation & Skills provides an excellent study "The Future of Identity". The report published by Sir John Beddington, UK's last Chief Scientist describes the trends, predicts changes, and suggest areas for actions related to our "notion of identity"!
Mr. Pallab Ghosh, science correspondent for the BBC discusses the report in his article "Web 're-defining' human identity says chief scientist". He states specific to the impact of online social applications and role playing games:
"One consequence could be communities becoming less cohesive... This change could be harnessed to bring positive changes or if ignored could fuel social exclusion, says the study."
In specific, I enjoyed reading the part of the report on "Hyper-Connectivity". Sir John Beddington said in his comments to BBC News:
""The most dynamic trend (in determining identity) is hyper-connectivity," ... "The collection and use of data by government and the private sector, the balancing of individual rights and liberties against privacy and security and the issue of how to tackle social exclusion, will be affected by these trends," he said. "I hope the evidence in today's report will contribute to the policy making process.""
I am curious to see the action UK's government plans to take as a result of the report. There are generations alive today to whom the speed of change is excessively fast. While the latest crop of tweens expect faster, smaller, cheaper, embedded, always on, realtime, push relevant content, etc. devices to continuously emerge every year. A simple example is, some of today's tweens don't know what is laser disk, or any rotating digital storage device; they only understand unlimited storage and that too available to them wherever they are, independent of geography! Absolutely fascinating.
Mr. Ghosh's article can be read here. The report can be downloaded here.