How to preemptively judge new friends in the 21st Century

You used to be able to determine a person’s character through his or her CD collection via a complex web of stereotypes and assumptions.

Now, you can’t. Simply put, people just don’t have CD collections anymore. And if they do, they rarely add to them.

(And, no – iTunes can’t match up – not since the ease of grabbing JUST ONE song from an artist has watered down a person’s patterns of taste. It’s too easy to take a flier on a 99 cent song.)

My question: what will replace the CD shelf as a quick-look, split-second stereotyping library?

It’s not the iPad or smartphone. These are run on applications, and applications are common. It’s like looking at a lineup of appliances. We all have stereos and refrigerators. It’s not Netflix – film genres are spread across too many different personalities, to the point that the most you could glean is whether a person was into independent film or blockbusters (and, even then, it’s inexact.)

It’s not a matter of things. It’s a matter of aggregation. CD collections and DVD collections and bookshelves are being replaced by the newest form of identity – our lifestreams and collections of Internet interests. Quick judgment – for right or wrong – now comes from the things you “like” on Facebook, from the links you reblog and the comments you make on Twitter.

I tend to think the RSS aggregator gives us the information to predict personality – after all, they’re directly tied to the things we are willing to spend time with. Facebook and Twitter are too flippant. Blogs take time and attention.

It’s not as easy – you know, what with passwords and all of that crap – but it’s the closest to replacing the connection of our CD collections. Which is probably too bad: RSS feeds really can’t match a CD collection in terms of legacy content. We can delete the feeds we don’t read anymore a lot easier than we can get rid of that Debbie Gibson CD we’re still clinging to.

This was lovingly handwritten on September 20th, 2010