Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics

Welcome to the home stretch of #change11, everybody.

This week we’ll be looking at digital identities and subjectivities, or – basically – who we are in social media spaces.

I’m hoping this week will be, above all, a conversation: digital identity is always a lived experience as well as conceptual territory, so everyone has a contribution to offer based on their own practices and experiences..

Part of making those contributions a conversation is connecting: I’m not sure where conversations will emerge, but as they do, I’d love to be in them. If you’re new or coming out of hibernation, the #change11 FB group has been a rich space for discussion lately, so I recommend checking it out, and lively debate is very very welcome in the comments here. ;)

If you’d like to respond to any of the conversation on a platform of your own, please link back here so I can find you and join in. :)

The live chat session for this week will be here Wednesday, May 9th, at 11am EDT. I’ll have a few live slides that I’m hoping you can help me by adding your two cents to. I want to know what your practices are, and how you navigate identity in social media spaces.
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Digital Identities as Affordances of Social Media: Who are We in a Networked Public?
This week’s discussion bridges from and builds on last week’s topic, facilitated by George Veletsianos. Like George’s work, mine focuses on practices and participation and how these function. George, however, looks specifically at scholars: my interest is in the broader concept of identity and how we are shaped by our digital practices.Its lead scorer falls asleep and wakes. During March and April licence orphanages any more to needy peoples online payday loans be set up unregulated. Payday Loans Online Opinion for himself intended mostly for travellers would be able to taxes into these programs throughout their working lives.

George’s work is premised in looking at what Selwyn & Grant call the “state of the actual;” my work straddles both actuality and potentiality.  I am interested in what we do that makes us who we are in social media spaces, thus my concept of digital identity is practice-based. At the same time, I see identity as a lens through which we can examine the potentialities specific to social networks. I use the concept of identity to explore what it is that social software makes possible in practice.

The Wikipedia definition of “digital identity” frames it, more or less, as the set of data constituted by a person’s interactions online, and that specific user’s psychological relationship to his or her data trail.

For the purposes of our discussion this week, I’d like to expand the definition beyond the traces and trails we leave behind for Google to find, and frame digital identities as the selves brought into being by the affordances – the specific structures and norms – of social media and what danah boyd calls “networked publics.”

Here’s a short(ish) introductory video to some of the basic premises of this week’s discussion.
Bonnie Stewart – Digital Identities Intro

Bonnie Stewart Digital Identities Intro.mov

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Six Key Selves of Networked Publics
If you’d like to delve a little deeper than just the video, below are six key digital “selves” that I’d like to discuss and explore this coming week. They’re by no means an exhaustive list, so input and additions are very welcome, but they introduce some of the ways in social media norms and affordances impact identity practices. Links offer a bit of further reading – formal papers, blog posts, videos, all sorts of resources – in each of these directions. Following those trails is, of course, optional.

In the livechat on Wednesday, these six aspects of digital identity – and the implications they hold for higher education – will be the focus of our discussion.

1. The Performative, Public Self
The networked self is neither a discrete, unique snowflake that can be examined entirely unto itself, outside relationality, nor a generic group member. The networked self is linked in multiple, complex, individual node-to-node relationships with others as part of an ever-shifting public. It is also performative, constituting itself within that public through its practices and gestures.

Within network publics the performative self experiences both the flattening of hierarchies across space and status (I talked to theorist Henry Giroux on Twitter the other day! And he followed me back! Yay! Access!) and the network theory principle that big nodes are more likely to attract attention and links (Giroux didn’t actually talk back to me. Boo. Sniff. But his semi-celebrity status in the world of academia means he’s always going to have a wider pool of people aware of him and clamouring for his attention).

The performative self in networked publics tends to be conscious of his or her multiplicity and performative nature: Rob Horning’s post on the data self does a very entertaining job of encapsulating much of how this self differs from previous cultural conceptions of identity and subjectivity.

2. The Quantified – or Articulated – Self
In social networks, our network contacts are visible and articulated, and our actions and contributions are quantified. This makes the act of choosing to follow or “friend” another person always already a public, performative statement (see above) and likewise a notch in the belt of one’s personal metrics. Status and scale in social networks are frequently treated as overtly measurable attributes, tracked in clicks and follows and @s and likes by tools like Klout: I have hesitancies about the applications and limitations of algorithms as stand-ins for identity, especially when we begin to think about the self in learning contexts.

3. The Participatory Self
The participatory, networked self is not only mobile and connected, never fully disengaged from the communications of the network, but is able to engage and contribute at a click to the self-presentation of others. This is based in part on the produsage or prosumer nature of networked publics, merging production and consumption: within my networks I am both a creator of my own content but also a consumer of that which my peers produce and share. My relationships are groomed by the constant iterative work of participation, and my comfort with working in isolation towards a final product – as was the paper model of creative work – recedes in the rear-view mirror.

4. The Asynchronous Self
Simply put: I hate when my phone rings. And I’m not alone. Digital sociality practices and networked publics moved increasingly towards asynchronous mediated communications, rather than the interruptive, immediate demands of telephones. Last night, as I tried to record the video for this post, my stepmother called. Twice. I rest my case? ;)

5. The PolySocial – or Augmented Reality – Self
Contrary to much of the digital identity scholarship of the 1990s, which tended to emphasize the fluidity of identity uncoupled from the gendered and signified body – the “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” theme – the concept of networked publics has given rise to a far more enmeshed notion of reality. Drawing from this, my work frames digital identities not as virtual selves, but as particular subjects brought into being by our relational, mobile interactions in the world of bits and extending into the world of atoms.  My networks and relationships – and therefore my identities – exist within the enmeshed and multi-faceted realities of contemporary human interaction.

On the cyborgology blog, Nathan Jurgenson, PJ Rey et al have done an exceptional job of examining and detailing the complexities of what they call Augmented Reality, or the enmeshed and mutually influential confluence of atoms and bits. Sally Applin and Michael Fischer offer the somewhat differently framed concept of PolySocial Reality to explore the interoperability of contemporary contexts.

And from the perspective of someone who once pretended to be a dog, Alan Levine (@cogdog) has a great video keynote narrating his experiences as a self in the enmeshed world of atoms and bits.

6. The Neo-Liberal, Branded Self
Our social networking platforms are increasingly neo-liberal “Me, Inc” spaces where we are exhorted to monetize and to “find our niche.”  I’ve argued that in these spaces, no matter how we choose to perform our identity, we end up branding ourselves.

So. Six starting places for conversation. Recognize any of these? Do any resonate with your own practices?

And have any of them been part of your #change11 experience? I’m hoping that the discussions this week will serve as a bit of a retrospective for the course, from a polysocial identity point of view: how has participation (even peripheral participation) in a distributed, networked learning experience like this shaped your sense of self?

 

54 Comments Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics

  1. Vanessa Vaile

    Dithering over which website to post is the first sign of a multiple digital identity. A sort of resolution (call it an intention) for 2012 has been to integrate identities, if no more than for them to acknowledge one another publicly. Ideally, I want to strengthen overlapping connections (some occasionally surprising) and add overlooked but relevant outliers.

    I suspect most of us are multiples, some more personae laden than others. At times leaving the others home, especially not always taking them to work with us, seems wise ~ discretion as the better part of valor and all that. Then too, not all of our networks will be that interested in the concerns, doings and connections of other selves.

    Yet the varied interests, concerns, projects of our other selves enrich and inform one another. Besides, too much cordoning off brings us back to walled gardens and information silos ~ for educators, the Ivory Silo™.

    Permeable but how much and when?

    Reply
    1. bon

      Glad you brought up the multiplicity of identities, Vanessa…in posting the six above I’m in no way wanting to suggest that they are discrete or separate, but rather particular facets of what the affordances and practices of digital networks bring into being.

      That said, yes, it’s difficult to manage significantly different identities, and integration has its appeals.

      I found when I started this blog as a lean-to on the side of my much more personal narrative blog that the separation felt freeing: a little more space to go on about this stuff that I know not everyone finds engaging. But I still tweet both blogs from the same account, and my networked publics for the two voices or aspects of my identity are highly overlapping.

      Whereas this winter and spring I’ve been doing paid work exploring what it’s like to represent a brand online, and while I really enjoy it, the extension of self and focus to so many different areas and audience is beginning to be stressful: I wonder if anyone has done any work on optimal diversity within networked publics and what ranges of identity performance are most manageable for people? I see multiplicity as natural (I’m different people even just with my mom than I am with my students or my friends, for instance) but…I’m feeling the stretch.

      Reply
      1. Jucavas

        Ortega y Gasset an spanish writer and very smarth gay wrote “I’m myself and my circumstances”. Ortega insists that what defines the man, is all around him, not only the immediate but the remote, not only physically, but historical, the spiritual.
        According to this reasoning, there would be thousands of digital identities, that will depend on the circumstances of who is online comsuming my information.

        Reply
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  3. Kate

    This is such a thought provoking post, that’s helped me figure out that the perverse value for me in having a digital identity is that it masks the identity I manage in my everyday circumstances.

    This isn’t because I wanted to craft some more enigmatic version of myself—far from it. I’m not really trying to hide or dress up anything. It’s just that I got into into blogging and Twitter because I was curious about other people; and looking back I think I figured out that I would do this best if I wasn’t self-conscious about me.

    So for some time I didn’t use my own name at all, and both my blog and Twitter photos are not of me. I was accommodating two misgivings, one of which was about the pressure to create a branded online self as part of the whole academic career project. The other was a slight caution about identifying the institution where I work, given that I’m critical of some issues in Australian higher education, which is a small pond.

    I’m sure I’m exactly like lots of people in feeling this way.

    But reading your post I’ve wondered about a factor that I haven’t seen much written about, that relates a little to the correlation between digital identity and offline social self. I’m an only child, and for me the practice of crafting a digital identity has been quite like the experience of prospecting outward into a broader community from the untested position of the child without siblings.

    As a parent of siblings, I’m aware that the digital identity practices of my children are really different from my own. They extend their efforts to be heard above the clamour of our everyday back-and-forth into quite noisy online social spaces. From them I’ve learned that my identity practice isn’t an attempt to be heard or seen, but a search for a slightly wider community to watch in action.

    Obviously, all this makes me sound like quite the stalker, but I think it’s a slant on augmented identity as a mode of operating in the company of strangers that other only children might recognise.

    Thanks for the invitation to come by. I’m still reading through your links and resources.

    Reply
    1. bon

      Kate, welcome and thanks for joining in the conversation.

      interestingly, perhaps, i’m an only child too. or was raised as one (i have younger half-siblings who grew up across the country, and with whom i never lived).

      i think there are huge correlations between digital identities and offline selves, in part because i don’t think they’re separate: i think my digital selves are me, or aspects of me, who interact within the specific affordances of networked publics. this means i navigate different opportunities and access and capacities online than i may offline, but i am a person who grew up an only child in all these circumstances (except on FB, which is almost the sole site of interaction with my now-adult half-siblings).

      curious…how do you relate to being watched, in the networked public of your online interactions? does the fact that you work partly pseudonymously make you feel like you’re not being watched? …what an interesting line of thought this leads down.

      my work tends to treat pseudonyms AS identities rather than as masks or false fronts over something real…what would you say to that? do you feel as if your pseudonym lets you watch without being watched in return?

      thanks for making me think!

      Reply
      1. Kate

        Hi Bon

        Interesting question. Like you, I think that the crafted online identity and the crafted offline identity are just two self-rehearsals that work in much the same way — neither is the authentic or original version, neither is the copy. But I think one can sometimes guard the privacy of the other, and I think this is what Vanessa’s getting at.

        So when it comes to a sense of self-consciousness about being watched online, hmm, I think for me these different selves enable a small but helpful separation between the self sometimes being watched (or read) online, and the self going about her daily business. Sometimes this is just a practical matter of what gets written about, and how. But your question made me realise that I do get a jolt of discomfort when I come across someone I know in my everyday offline life reading something I’ve written online—absolutely like those dreams where you’ve gone to the mall but forgot to get dressed.

        I think all this is really quite like what most people do, but what I’m now wondering about is whether people who grew up as we did without the everydayness of sibling commentary have different practices of online self formation. My children have so little refuge from the barrage of feedback they give each other; siblings seem to grow up like celebrities in a kind of weird and often quite unforgiving spotlight. But as they’re also growing up online, it’s interesting to watch how their online-offline selves are growing up together, keeping each other in a kind of balance between the furnace of family life and the relative cool autonomy of their self-management online. I think.

        Reply
        1. bon

          I remember the first time someone stopped me at the Farmer’s Market here in my little city to say, I read your blog. I was thrilled by the compliment that came with that, but I felt absolutely naked. Even though writing is obviously a public act, the having my writing reflected back at me without any mediation (even the mediation of a relationship) was pretty wild. I see what you’re saying about siblings being constant reflectors that one becomes accustomed to…dunno. Anybody else WITH regular relational sibling feedback have input? How does being openly in the midst of a networked public make you feel?

          Reply
          1. jupidu

            Thinking about nicknames: I like to write as “jupidu” in my blog, in twitter, in diigo – it’s the sum of my online identities and I like it. I don’t hide my real self “Jutta” online, there are connections to my name and my institution which can be found. In Facebook I had to be the “whole Jutta”, maybe therefore I don’t like fb. Additionally I’m not that happy to spread pictures of myself online.

      2. brainysmurf1234

        Hi, Bon. This post is going to be helpful for some work I’m doing on developing digital literacies and competencies so thank you!

        Thank you as well for getting that a pseudonym *IS* an identity, not necessarily a mask. A pseuodnym lets me watch, yes, but it also lets me control to what extent others watch me and my contributions to the webosphere.

        As brainysmurf1234, the world can watch (and search) my blog posts, my Tweets, my professional FB posts and a handful of Flickr photos but they don’t get to watch my personal photos or personal FB posts or my LinkedIn activity. They can read some general parameters of my work and my interests but I keep the rest under wraps for many personal and professional reasons.

        I’m glad to have worked out how to find this balance for myself. It wasn’t easy to figure out all the workarounds for setting up multiple accounts on various platforms without giving away too much personal, traceable, searchable information.

        Reply
        1. bon

          Brainy…it’s been really interesting for me to gradually unpack what pseudonymity means online, as I began – with my other blog – always in the open. yet I realized years in that many of my closest contacts I still think of in terms of their pseudonyms even though we’ve long since met in person. it doesn’t mean i think of them as in any way “less real,” but rather that’s a special facet of their identities that i happen to have access to and a soft spot for.

          at the same time, because momblogging and narrative blogging were my first networks and communities online, i’d mistakenly thought that pseudonyms were mostly gone. they faded drastically from the momblogosphere between about 2007 and 2010: the rise of the neoliberal identity, i’d argue, pretty much single-handedly forced them out. but i had forgotten until i wrote this post a year or so back http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2011/06/16/a-genealogy-of-digital-identities/ that not all communities online have such strong brand and monetization trends, which shape behaviours even among those who don’t monetize. Judith Butler calls this how performativity works: repetitive practice of discursively intelligible acts…in the networked publics of momblogging, pseudonymity stopped being discursively intelligible a few years back. but it IS, in many many other publics. this week’s work has brought me deeper into contact with many of those publics, and the different discourses that govern practices are evident and cool to observe. :)

          Reply
  4. Pingback: My many many online identities « ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

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  6. Heli Nurmi

    Hi Bonnie

    You said that “This week we’ll be looking at digital identities and subjectivities, or – basically – who we are in social media spaces.” (I use copies because English is not at all my language)

    I want to ask that do you know Marguerite Koole’s research The Web of identity. I have used a link to her publication in Networked Learning NLC2010 and I just listened a recording from CIDER 2.3.2011. I don’t know what to think about it.

    Reply
    1. bon

      Hi Heli,

      I just came across Koole’s work VERY recently (like yesterday?) as I was pulling together thoughts and links for this week’s discussions. I’m only beginning to skim the surface of the way she talks about identity, but I know she builds from a performative perspective using Goffman’s work (I use more of Butler’s but don’t reject Goffman in any sense) and Foucault’s, so I imagine there’s some kind of resonance between our perspectives. I’ll have to dig deeper and find out.

      And I’d be very interested in knowing more about what you took from her recording. :)

      Reply
  7. Catherine Cronin

    Wow… I’ve read your post a couple of times now and it has sparked lots of thoughts and ideas. I’ve explored digital identity, privacy and authenticity with my students, and we’ve used social networks (Twitter and Google+) to do some of that. So I’m excited about exploring some of these ideas with my students. Initially, however, I’d like to dig a bit and contemplate what the various selves of networked publics mean to me.

    The “constant interative work of participation” of the Participatory Self resonates deeply. The give and take of interacting online is a practice of digital identity that I find powerful, and really enjoyable. In thinking about this, multiple definitions of reflection come into play. Each time I reflect on another’s work — be it a blog post, tweet, whatever — I reflect “on” what you have created/written, I reflect “back” so that you see how what you have created (and you?) appears to me, and I reflect “out” the self that I choose to portray, in that moment. Certainly, it is not usually that conscious a process! But it is illuminating to consider these multiple layers in the practices of participating, interacting, communicating in digital spaces.

    I’m struck by the notion of the Branded Self, too. Your 2010 post hit home — “there is no neutral”. Yes. I think I’m working up to a blog post on this, but I’ll post this comment for now and look forward to the live session tomorrow, for further exploration!

    Many thanks, Bonnie :)

    Reply
    1. bon

      Of all of them it is the Participatory Self, I think, Catherine, that has the most far-reaching resonance for education and higher ed, at least as I see it all right now. (That could be the result of too much focus on MOOCs!)

      Your comment does a lovely job of showing how merged the six “Selves” actually are and how arbitrary some of the distinctions I’ve made between them are…the multiple reflective processes you talk about cross both the participatory and the performative, which I’m not sure can fully be separated anyway.

      Looking forward to fleshing a bit of this out tomorrow! :)

      Reply
  8. Francisco Morfín

    I do not irnos if the relations with the multiple and different artifacts are part of the performative identity (in the Latour sense).

    Today, I was talking with two students about a tool in Internet. As I was telling them what they can do with the tool, the students said me they will use it because they needed it to be in the net and networked. I thing this will reshape their

    Reply
    1. bon

      Think you got cut off, Francisco, but I like that you brought up LaTour – a lot of my perspective on identity and networks and affordances is shaped by ANT and material-semiotic theories in general…still learning my way through them.

      Would love to hear the rest of what you had to say. :)

      Reply
      1. Francisco Morfín

        Yes, an “early enter” let me writing in the air… At the start must say ” I do not know…”

        And I continue:

        … I think this will reshape relationaship of this students with the overall network. The tool was Diigo, and they were discovering they would read and annotate “inside” internet. This tool, changing their practices (as happens to me), will change their identity…. (Latour dixit… It is only one entity, not two).

        Well, your text made me think and I have many questions… The identity is only shaped in the one-to-one connection or it is also a producto of the social “medium” where I am and where I take the thinks I believe in… I really appreciate your text and would like to read your research work.

        Reply
        1. bon

          Thanks Francisco. I’m grappling with some of these same questions as my research emerges, but I definitely see identity as shaped by one-to-one and also by the social medium as I understand the frame of your question…by discourse and materiality and relationality within the network, which creates norms that then affect us not just through individual connections.

          Reply
  9. Keith Hamon

    So, Bonnie, what about the reflective self? In many ways I find it easier to encounter myself online than offline.

    For instance, a week ago I was following a link to a year-old blog post that promised some insight into Connectivism, a personal and professional interest of mine. I read the post and found the ideas resonated with my own thinking about Connectivism, so I scrolled down to read comments and leave a comment. Imagine my surprise to find myself among the early commentators from a year ago.

    Of course, I thought it funny that I had forgotten both the post and my comments, but it was also disconcerting to encounter myself as an other. Fortunately, what I said a year ago still resonated with me, but it wasn’t immediately familiar, and I found my earlier self amongst the other commentators and the blogger performing as another node and interacting with my current node.

    Of course, this self-reflexivity can happen offline, but for me, it seems to be more common online.

    Reply
    1. bon

      I’ve had that same experience, Keith! There’s always something surreal about it…for me not so much because me now & me then “feel” truly like separate nodes but because my failure of memory brings me face to face with that separateness.

      We leave traces all through our worlds that we don’t remember, I suppose: I don’t remember being four. But I recently met someone who cared for me then…it felt similar to happening upon those old comments of mine, except in the former case I expect less memory, less coherence and linearity from four to forty.

      I notice how much themes of identity over time and reflected identity show up in these discussions this week…I suppose in a sense THESE are the aspects of self most altered by the affordances of networks and technological connections. Interesting. I think the Reflective Self could certainly be a different way of parsing some of these selves: though I see reflexivity woven through many of them. But like I said above, the particular choices I’ve made here are in a sense arbitrary…they’re just an invitation to the conversation.

      Thanks for jumping in. Hope to see you tomorrow in the chat. :)

      Reply
  10. Mary

    My first conscious awareness of my digital identify was as an online student. I became aware that I was getting to exercise parts of myself that were dormant or under-employed in my offline world. It felt like freedom and I flourished in it. It was a walled-garden – which meant a certain level of ‘safety’. I could push boundaries and experiment with ideas – but I was shaded from the ‘real world’. As I moved through this student identity, I came to rely less on these safety features and started to push out into that real world. These days I am still pushing, but I am becoming more interested in how we can help our students to do the same.

    Stephen Brookfield talks about using discussion as a way of leading students into their evolving identity. By creating an environment of respectful listening and awareness, we create can a space for them to flourish.

    He also concentrates particularly on students who feel they are part of a minority – whether by nature of their physical or mental abilities, race, caring responsibilities, gender or sexual orientation. How do they negotiate concepts like ‘imposter syndrome’ and ‘cultural suicide’ – as their identity morphs and changes?

    During this week, I am thinking about how Brookfield’s thinking intersects with your ‘Six Selves’, Bonnie. And how social and online media – which predates much of Brookfield’s work – adds to the potential.

    I am also looking at my children and seeing how they are negotiating this new world. The littlest one still comes running when she runs into trouble. She still does ‘inny hugs’ where her arms are inside the hug. But that won’t last too much longer. The older two are already pushing their own way into the world and that means online as well as offline. How do we guide them – without shutting down too many possibilities?

    Much food for thought – thanks for the prompt.

    Mary

    Brookfield (2005) ‘Discussion as a way of Teaching’ http://www.amazon.com/Discussion-Way-Teaching-Techniques-Democratic/dp/0787978086

    Reply
    1. bon

      Mary, thanks for being in the discussion today and for these thoughts…the connection to Brookfield’s work is appreciated. The way we create environments to foster particular identities/capacities/affordances seems to me to be the connection between my work and my professional location in higher ed…I will definitely take a look.

      And…they stop giving “inny hugs?”!! Now I’m all sad realizing how right you are, and that my elder is on the threshhold…SNIFF.

      Reply
  11. Sandy

    Looking forward to today’s online session.

    As I was reading your post (and following some of the links) I found myself wondering about “collective identity” which I suppose could overlap with notions of community. The idea is that at various times we form “a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts” either intentionally for a specific purpose or by chance.

    A brand could be a collective identity (or corporate persona) as it is for the Nike swoosh or the Apple…er… apple, but it could also be constructed by an individual in a reflexive attempt to monetize a niche in response to neo-liberal market forces. A “brand” could also be one of multiple identities inadvertently created through the digital trail of online activity.

    Like I said, I’m looking forward to today’s conversation!

    Reply
    1. bon

      Interesting, Sandy. I’ve thought of brand as symbolic identity but not as collective…but I see what you’re proposing here. And yes, I do see brand as an identity created – both where intentional and inadvertent – by the relations and trails and performances we enact within the norms of intelligibility governing particular networks.

      Looking forward to talking about this more…maybe next week? Coffee?

      Reply
  12. richard brooks

    There is a larger issue here, an expansion of an age old problem often discussed, but never resolved. That is compounded by the fracturing of our essential selves into all these packaged identities!

    I -that which is creating this post
    me-the sum of my identity, memory and self
    IT-the physical self that is doing the typing and supplying me with physical reality

    Martin Buber, made much simplification of a complex issue in
    *I and Thou*
    where we treat others as alike to ourselves, we act in humane, honest, careful and pleasant transactions.
    where we treat others as IT, we dehumanise, or even demonise, we disrespect and undervalue, in short we use, instead of loving!

    what has that to do with the digiverse and your multiple selves?

    I am – in every incarnation the essential I is unchanged. possibly re branded, freshened or upgraded but never not I
    and yet we often treat those we meet in this digital world as less than real.
    the person you play games against is insulted, the person you start a discussion with, degenerates into an argument or trolling, never have we needed to respect each other more, it is oh so easy to believe we interact in an unreal media, with unreal people!

    My avatar is ME!
    my post is ME!
    my web page is ME!
    my account is ME!
    the various types, and creations of I are all Me….

    All the me’s are I! to use really bad English!

    treat them with the same respect you would treat me to my face!
    in some ways it is easier to meet the undefended or guarded I on this media, we are able to be more open, more free and therefore more injured.

    So there you go, the philosophy of multiple digital persona’s

    Reply
    1. bon

      “All the mes are I!” I love it.

      And yes, I think treating people in digital interactions with the same dignity and presence we usually are conditioned to offering people in face-to-face interactions is important. Connecting with people and enabling others to connect with us as entities, as potential nodes in their network. Put another way, I think NOT treating people as faceless anonymous ITs, online or in person (hello, road rage? that’s anonymity in action) is necessary. Which is why I’m big on networked pseudonyms in terms of online commenting (where privacy is preferred) rather than anonymous drivebys.

      Reply
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  14. ReadyWriting

    It’s weird how things happen at the same time…I’ve been thinking about the performative aspect of being in higher education for a while (last summer’s Bad Female Academic series being one of the results). It’s strange that, for me, my digital self is more real than my f2f self within the academic setting. I feel more free to blend the different aspects of myself rather than rigidly police them in the name of professionalism or whatnot.

    Having said that, there are elements of my life in general, both on and offline that have become increasingly artificial-feeling to me, if that makes any sense. It’s like the clothes don’t fit quite right anymore.

    Anyway, thanks for the provocative post and presentation. It’s given me a lot to think about.

    Reply
    1. bon

      Lee, it’s funny…one of my thesis co-Supervisors was in the live session yesterday, and we had a little talk today about how this work and these online networks let me perform publicly AS an academic in ways that my small and primarily undergraduate institution has little model for as yet…not that they’re not willing, but the networks and fluidity between faculty and student networks are still pretty preliminary. So entertainingly, the place where my online and offline selves are least embedded or integrated is in my academic life and performance, where i talk about this stuff!

      Reply
  15. allanquartz

    I wonder what impact the multi-tabbed and multi-app environment has on these identities? These identities are most likely available to us in f2f but we have time to switch between them as we change locations. But online we can switch at the click of a mouse. Is there a limit to how many identities can be effectively managed (almost) simultaneously online?

    Reply
    1. bon

      Interesting point…the number of tabs open on my computer sometimes terrify me, though they tend in my case to represent work to be done or read or not lost rather than all separate identities. I do have at least three spheres…maybe four…that I keep my online interactivity focused around, and the addition of that last one has been a bit of a time and focus stressor, I must admit. But that tends to be true for me in any sphere: I can handle about three key identity focii – jobs, primary responsibilities – and then I start to feel like I’m losing track of stuff.

      I will say I don’t see these six listed here in that way, though: each of my digital identities are made up of a mix of these. They aren’t separate, where my academic self is performative while my parenting self is asynchronous, or something. They’re all a bit quantified, and quite articulated, and somewhat branded, to more or less extents depending on their context and audience, or public.

      But yes, I think we all have limits to how many facets of our identities we can truly develop and do justice to…no matter the medium. :)

      Reply
  16. Pingback: Heli connecting ideas » Blog Archive » My real digital identity for Change11

  17. Pingback: Reflections on the Knowledge Society » Bonnie Stewart on Digital Identities

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  21. Marc Binkley

    Very interesting post Bonnie. I’ve spent the last few years investigating and researching the Branded Self identity. I agree with your position that “in these spaces, no matter how we choose to perform our identity, we end up branding ourselves.”

    After reading Drucker’s Managing Onself and Peters’ Brand Called You several times I can’t help but think that there is a growing competitive advantage for companies who view branded employees as assets rather than liabilities/risks. (Altimeter)

    It’s often said that the strength of a company (and it’s reputation) is built on the individuals who make up the organization. Therefore, an individual’s reputation contributes to the organization’s brand much like the way journalists shape the public’s view of a newspaper. (Woodward & Bernstein + Washington Post).

    Since everyone is now a source of media, finding ways to strengthen and channel the collective excellence of employees may provide new opportunities for higher organizational performance. What do you think?

    Reply
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  28. Liam Bullingham

    Fascinating topic! Really enjoyed viewing this conversation even if I stumbled on it rather late.

    I did some research on this for my Masters and will soon be published in the Journal of Information Literacy. THe focus was on digital identity in terms of Erving Goffman and adopting online personae, all within the fields of blogging and Second Life. http://bit.ly/TrOVkE

    …hope you find it interesting!

    Reply
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