In a world more interconnected than ever, we have never been catered to on a more individual level. Everything we encounter on social media, in-store, and in the mail, is customized to interest our existing self. By recommending movies you should watch, clothing you should buy, or the types of ads you should see based on your location, data footprint, and personal likes and dislikes, most “smart” recommendation technologies simply further develop the person you already are. Personalization, customization, and individualization are only a few buzzwords that companies, organizations, and schools today (among others) are feverishly working to incorporate into their daily processes. These groups recognize that there is a market for personalization. There is proven economic value to market to an individual by exposing them to the very things they already like. This data-driven engagement approach is more predictable, and thus more likely to lead to consumer buying (a product) or buying-in (to an idea, news article, or desired behavior).
However, such customization does not come without a societal cost. Technology that filters content based on similarity also results in polarization, homogeneity within groups, polarization between groups, and decreased creativity and efficiency overall. Because social media content is filtered to the individual and “birds of the same feather flock together”, in-group culture is likely to intensify, while understanding of other groups is likely to diminish. Such polarity can to lead to close-minded individuals, inflated egos, and organizational inefficiencies.
Such unfortunate trade-offs between personalization and societal communication heighten the need of a product or tool to “pop” the so-called “bubble” that has been created around (and is separating) each of us. This is where AlterEgo comes in. AlterEgo hopes to combat the increasing homogeneity and lack of creativity that has resulted from modern technology, by creating a tool to introduce individuals to their counterparts in a shared environment that are most different from them, in terms of personality and interests.
AlterEgo seeks to break the negative effects of such strong personalization filters, by using unique qualities to encourage diversity, as opposed to intensity, of thought. AlterEgo does not literally expose a user to the very ads she has blocked, or political media sources she has consciously chosen to ignore. Rather, AlterEgo seeks to simply introduce the user to an individual that is likely to inadvertently expose her to ideas of this nature. Through interaction with this different individual, one can generate richer conversations, diverse perspectives, and increase creativity in a natural manner. AlterEgo does not only introduce the user to diverse perspectives, but also does so in a meaningful way – both in terms of personal network growth and outcomes of interaction.
AlterEgo is not just about introducing opposites; it is about increasing creativity through connection. It is about realizing the possibilities that can come from fostering relationships that one may not otherwise have. Personal, professional, and organizational growth, are closer than one might think. With AlterEgo’s introduction recommendation based on trusted personality questionnaire and interest preference input, a simple conversation may be all that it takes.