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Digital Identities: 
Social networks and Me 
@BeerBergman 
Distinguished Lecture Series 
Sciences Po Paris // Reims campus 
October 1st, 2014
NSFW 
Mistakes allowed
(introduction): Avatars, formats & filters 
1. Selfies, avatars: selfportraits 2.0? 
2. « Me » as a collection 
3. Some critical viewpoints
In computing, an avatar (usually translated from Sanskrit as 
incarnation) is the graphical representation of the user or the user's 
alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as 
in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in 
Internet forums and other online communities. 
It is an object representing the user. The term "avatar" can also refer 
to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an 
Internet user. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(computing)
Avatars: formats & filtres 
« The first four lines of a work of art are its outside boundaries » 
Matisse
Avatars, formats & filtres
« It is probably no mere historical 
accident that the word person, 
in its first meaning, 
is a mask. » 
Erving Goffman citing Park, The Presentation of Self. 1959
Authentic 
or 
fake?
Selfies, avatars :
Cultural differences?
http://thecarceralnet.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/selfie-bingo/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qJAPLypDnE
#HolidaySelfie
« For symbolic interactionists, the self is first and foremost a reflexive process of 
social interaction. The reflexive process refers to the uniquely human capacity to 
become an object to one's self, to be both subject and object » 
« The self conceived in this way allows for agency, creative action, and the 
possibility of emancipatory political movement. (… 
Just as important, this configuration is not inconcsistent with new postmodern 
approaches to self and power. » (Peter L. Caller, The sociology of the self)
« This man, that we may call homo poeticus, endowed with a narrative and 
multiple identity, is both auctor and histrio, dramaturgue and actor. 
The fictive histories he is telling himself but specially to the others 
contribute to consolidating the neoliberal man’s « projected me », 
an augmented me, the refined me, performing as he is, fictif, 
a « social fake ». 
http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
« The public person is not made in the 
image of a unique self; 
rather, an interpretive picture 
of unique self is made 
in the image of the public person » 
Cahill, SE. 1988. Toward a sociology of the person.
« Me » as a collection
« The individual as a collection of traces » 
• Declarative traces 
• Behavioral traces 
• Documentary traces 
• Reputational traces 
http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
« The individual as a collection of traces » : declarative traces 
http://ow.ly/C2ng4
« The individual as a collection of traces » : behavioral traces 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/5352881586/
« The individual as a collection of traces » : documentary traces
« The individual as a collection of traces » : reputational traces 
https://twitter.com/wef/status/499072828587909121
http://webscience.blogs.usj.edu.lb/2597/les-identites-numeriques-seminaire-avec-d-cardon/
Social capital 
Trust 
Reputation 
Status 
?
Reputation, Trust 
« What people say about you. » 
E-reputation 
« What people say about you online. » 
« Strategic online self-presentation plays an enormous role in increasing one’s 
Social status, 
how one is viewed both online and off. »
Status 
« One’s value and importance in the eyes of the world ». 
Status is what your peers think about you, whether they hold you 
in esteem or contempt, and the privileges that accord from this 
position. 
Status is a powerful tool that reveals the values and assumptions 
shared by a group ; it shows power and dynamics and the limits of 
egalitarian ideals 
Alice E. Marwick, Status update: Celebrity, Publicity & Branding in the Social Media Age (2013)
Strategic online self-representation ? 
Personal Branding? 
My personal Web Strategie? 
Me as a collection of persons?
« Me as a collection of persons » 
« Authenticity » and « Being yourself », advice that is emphasized over and over 
again in social media discourse, have become marketing strategies that encourage 
instrumental emotional labor » / Alice E. Marwick
A neoliberal perspective insists on 
seeing all social actors, be they people, 
communities or nation-states, 
in terms of corporate individualism— 
a flexible bundle of skills that reflexively manages 
oneself as though the self was a business 
Alice E. Marwick, Status update: Celebrity, Publicity & Branding in the Social Media Age (2013)
« Me as a collection of persons » 
Photographer
« How can we, 
as individuals and as communities, 
develop nuanced and multiple ways to 
explore how to behave well? » 
Ilana Gershon, Neoliberal Agency
(neoliberal culture) 
Strategic online self-representation 
Reflexivity and development of self 
(…. culture) 
What alternatives can we develop?
Questions? 
Thank you for your attention.

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Digital Identities: Social Networks and Me

  • 1. Digital Identities: Social networks and Me @BeerBergman Distinguished Lecture Series Sciences Po Paris // Reims campus October 1st, 2014
  • 3. (introduction): Avatars, formats & filters 1. Selfies, avatars: selfportraits 2.0? 2. « Me » as a collection 3. Some critical viewpoints
  • 4. In computing, an avatar (usually translated from Sanskrit as incarnation) is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. It is an object representing the user. The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar_(computing)
  • 5. Avatars: formats & filtres « The first four lines of a work of art are its outside boundaries » Matisse
  • 7. « It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. » Erving Goffman citing Park, The Presentation of Self. 1959
  • 10.
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  • 19.
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  • 26. « For symbolic interactionists, the self is first and foremost a reflexive process of social interaction. The reflexive process refers to the uniquely human capacity to become an object to one's self, to be both subject and object » « The self conceived in this way allows for agency, creative action, and the possibility of emancipatory political movement. (… Just as important, this configuration is not inconcsistent with new postmodern approaches to self and power. » (Peter L. Caller, The sociology of the self)
  • 27. « This man, that we may call homo poeticus, endowed with a narrative and multiple identity, is both auctor and histrio, dramaturgue and actor. The fictive histories he is telling himself but specially to the others contribute to consolidating the neoliberal man’s « projected me », an augmented me, the refined me, performing as he is, fictif, a « social fake ». http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
  • 28. « The public person is not made in the image of a unique self; rather, an interpretive picture of unique self is made in the image of the public person » Cahill, SE. 1988. Toward a sociology of the person.
  • 29. « Me » as a collection
  • 30.
  • 31.
  • 32.
  • 33.
  • 34.
  • 35.
  • 36. « The individual as a collection of traces » • Declarative traces • Behavioral traces • Documentary traces • Reputational traces http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
  • 37. « The individual as a collection of traces » : declarative traces http://ow.ly/C2ng4
  • 38. « The individual as a collection of traces » : behavioral traces https://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/5352881586/
  • 39. « The individual as a collection of traces » : documentary traces
  • 40. « The individual as a collection of traces » : reputational traces https://twitter.com/wef/status/499072828587909121
  • 42.
  • 43.
  • 44. Social capital Trust Reputation Status ?
  • 45. Reputation, Trust « What people say about you. » E-reputation « What people say about you online. » « Strategic online self-presentation plays an enormous role in increasing one’s Social status, how one is viewed both online and off. »
  • 46. Status « One’s value and importance in the eyes of the world ». Status is what your peers think about you, whether they hold you in esteem or contempt, and the privileges that accord from this position. Status is a powerful tool that reveals the values and assumptions shared by a group ; it shows power and dynamics and the limits of egalitarian ideals Alice E. Marwick, Status update: Celebrity, Publicity & Branding in the Social Media Age (2013)
  • 47. Strategic online self-representation ? Personal Branding? My personal Web Strategie? Me as a collection of persons?
  • 48. « Me as a collection of persons » « Authenticity » and « Being yourself », advice that is emphasized over and over again in social media discourse, have become marketing strategies that encourage instrumental emotional labor » / Alice E. Marwick
  • 49. A neoliberal perspective insists on seeing all social actors, be they people, communities or nation-states, in terms of corporate individualism— a flexible bundle of skills that reflexively manages oneself as though the self was a business Alice E. Marwick, Status update: Celebrity, Publicity & Branding in the Social Media Age (2013)
  • 50. « Me as a collection of persons » Photographer
  • 51. « How can we, as individuals and as communities, develop nuanced and multiple ways to explore how to behave well? » Ilana Gershon, Neoliberal Agency
  • 52. (neoliberal culture) Strategic online self-representation Reflexivity and development of self (…. culture) What alternatives can we develop?
  • 53.
  • 54. Questions? Thank you for your attention.

Editor's Notes

  1. Well, thank you for being here ! I am delighted to speak to you about digital identities, which is the subject that interests me perhaps more than any other, because there is so much to say and because we practise it everyday. Immersion, and reflexivity are two important and strong constructive powers. Let me introduce myself shortly: Dutch girl, in France since 1992, started out as an artist, turned to the Internet and print design in 1996, created an international domain name registration and hosting firm and did that for about 5 years, all the way from Sepvret, somewhere in the French countryland. For those of you who want to know: type lagrossetalle.com and you see the other part of this plural existance, the three gîtes and small campground we have where we live, in the heart of the Poitou-Charentes. Two children, a husband with four (more) children and grandchildren, enough activities to keep me from idling around.
  2. The lecture that is following may not be safe for work. Or it might. It is all a postmodern reconstruction of the ways we reconstruct ourselves. You are allowed to make mistakes. We will NOT haunt you till the end of your lives with them. This is not a law, nor some technological stuff. This is people speaking.
  3. Ok, now, there is enough stuff to say about Digital Identies for at least three days. That’s not the amount of time I have to be with you. So I thought I’d fix myself three viewpoints, and divide the time in roughly 15-20 minutes for each subject. But once I wrote down the three subjects, I thought it was important to add the introduction. The time thing is probably not going to work, we will see as it goes.   I will start with an introduction, on avatars, formats & filters. It is about the way you present yourself with a picture: how you construct it and how it is perceived. The first subject then will be : selfies, avatars – selfportraits 2.0? Then I will turn to « me as an collection » And I will conclude with some critical points on personal branding.   To start with, this lecture is not going to be a crash course on how to optimize your social media presence. Nor a lecture on how to find work or a new project. I would like to talk to you about some personal thoughts on social media and digital identity, and hope to give you « food4thought » on this subject.   Let me be clear : different approaches are possible. As far as the marketing of yourself or the personal branding is concerned, I guess you can easily find enough stuff to read to get it all done without too many problems. You do not really need to sit and listen to some lady explaining the right steps to follow. But to give you the crash carsh course, you might consider to present yourself through a website with formal information on what you are doing and aiming to do, a blog to express personal viewpoints, values and mission statements (about whatever subject you are passionate about), to express yourself on social networks (Twitter and Facebok mainly), to have ongoing activities going on hybrid networks like Scoop.it, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram and LinkedIn and to document your online existence on sharing platforms like Flickr, YouTube and SlideShare. Ouf. Now I deliberately leave out the peer to peer networks, like WhatssApp and Snapchat, I leave those to you. The more important but also difficult to respond to issue are the questions « why, what for, and what consequences of the personal branding ? » How do we shape ourselves in the digital realm and what does that mean for our non-digital « me’s » ? Well, I hope to give you some clues or at least an approach for a personal angle of reflexion on the subject. Let’s start with the selfies.
  4. I consider avatars and selfies as the new selfportraits, and which I would call « selfportraits 2.0 ». Like augmented selfportraits, selfportraits that have the specificity of representing both the person as actor (photographer) and as subject of the picture. « 2.0 », because they are conceived and transmitted through web 2.0 technologies and seen and experienced by the public that has been transformed through the web 2.0 practices. And I want to refer to my earlier remarks about the formats and the influence they have on reading and interpreting the information. Why are they interesting and why do I want to talk to you about them? After all, you all use them whenever you create an online profile and you might just not pay more attention to them than « I like this picture » or « nice pic ».
  5. With digital camera applications, « natural » sight has changed: all of a sudden, the square box has become the standard, and the traditional formats have become somewhat of the exception, as far as profile pictures are concerned. Note that most platforms, and quite a lot of websites, now propose the traditional landscape format picture to provide additional information. The profile picture and its context are dissociated, and the new, dissociated format offers the opportunity to detach « landscape » in the sense of « background information » from the foreground information (the person). People can use this new « scenery » to enhance, to corrupt, to critisize, to comment, to alter the relationship between avatar (person) and the environment in which the avatar is supposed to exist.
  6. Now let me speak to you about filtering. Since I was a little girl, I have had this impossible equation to solve: when I put on my sunglasses, I do not see the world in its natural state. I might miss something, the beauty of the unaltered. This is, of course, supposing that the ‘natural state’ coincides with my vision of the natural. Oh how I was delighted to find out about the Claude Glasses, the object you see on the picture. Claude glasses, so-called after the French painter Claude Lorrain, and whose work was rediscovered in the 18th Century because of its imagined « picturesque » qualities, were the indispensable object to use for travelers, painters, picturesque nature amateurs. It is used to « augment » reality, to reduse and simplify colors and tonal range, in order to offer a picturesque quality to the landscapes. Now, other than that Claude Glasses are the predecessor of Instagram, I talk to you about them to make you rethink the filters you use in everyday online life. Filters for images, filters for narratives. Parody, critique, humor, cynism, you tell me. Anything you could use to render « reality » more personal, to show the personal view on reality through online activities.
  7. Which brings us to the issue of « Authenticity » versus the « fake ». So the question is: are the online « me’s » authentic or fake, or are they a commodification of myself? What does the personal branding do to the individual and to his or hers goups and communities? Actually, social media profiles and profiling offers us the ultimate chance to remake ourselves: just a little smoother, a little younger, that little corner from which I look more like the person I would like to be. Applying the Claude Glasses to your identity. I once had this lady in my class who told me she wanted an image of her …. From FB. I asked her if we could, as a class, take a look at the picture. She agreed, and honestly, I couldn’t see anything that shocked me. So I asked her: what is so wrong with this image of you? I just see 5 nice ladies, about 60 years old, and nothing particularly is hitting me like inappropriate or uncharming. Her answer was: My hair. At that very moment, I realized that whenever I see a picture of myself printed or online, I see the overweight, the extra years, the chin and too heavy breasts. But I did realize (and checked it with the group), that that is absolutely not what they see: they see this somewhat crazy lady who is trying to teach them about social media, with a lot of gesticulation, and a heavy Dutch accent. So at the end of the day, it is all about acceptance of yourself, more than anything else. And again, seeing your pictures and your collections, offers the opportunity to do so: you do not have another way so efficient, to learn to see you as an outsider. And he continues as follows: « It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, plaing a role… It is in these roles that was know ourselves. Ia sense, and in so far as this mask represents the conception we have formed of ourselves, - the role we are striving to live up to – this mask is our truer self, the self we would like to be. In the end, our conception of our role becomes second nature and an integral part of our personality. We come into the world as individuals, achieve character, and become personas. » Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self. P. 19. 1959. Robert Ezra Park, Race and culture. Glencoe, Ill. The Free Press, 1950. P.249
  8. You probably have heard about the fake journey of Dutch Design student Zila van den Born, earlier this month. She made up a whole journey through Asia, to « show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media - we create an ideal world online which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is for people to distort reality. Everyone knows that pictures of models are manipulated, but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives. » http://ow.ly/C2yTe Well, there has been a precedent reported in Jennie Germann Molz’s excellent book « Travel connections: tourism, technology and togetherness in a mobile world » (2012). A certain Matt Harding, computer engineer, became a real hit with his 2008 video of dancing in the exotic places he visited. He renewed his exploit twice, but sponsored by a firm. This caused. people to question the authenticity factor of his video and made Harding confess that he made up the videos with a team – without ever visiting these places. Borrowing from tourism studies, there are interesting viewpoints to consider. Wang proposes for instance three different ways to look at authenticity: objectivist (the object is authentic), symbolic or constructive authenticity (constructing authenticity from the relationship we would develop with the object or the situation, a projected attitude) and existentialist authenticity (aiming an authentic state of Being, a being of « true to oneself », engaging in activities that facilitate an exploration of the authentic self). An extensive literature has ever since been written about the subject, that I can suggest to you, really intersting stuf on the postmodern tourist and thus the postmodern state of men and that sort of thing. (With “hyperreality” (Eco 1986), and “simulacrum” (Baudrillard 1983), postmodern thinkers insist on deconstructing the boundaries between sign and reality, copy and original. In postmodern social theory, simulation ordains. For postmodern theorists, then, there is no place for either “objective” or “constructed” authenticity, and therefore, the concept can’t possibly motivate tourist behavior. ) (Rethinking authenticity in tourist experience, Zachary Lamb, 2006. P. 6) « Wang (1999) proposes that we pay attention to “existential states of being” induced by tourist activity. “Existential authenticity,” Wang argues, consists of the “personal or inter-subjective feelings activated by the liminal process of tourist activity” (1999: 351). Tourists engage in activities that facilitate an exploration of the authentic self, and thereby achieve an “authenticity of Being,” a state in which one is “true to oneself” (Wang 1999). Wang argues that being “true to oneself” is achieved in relation to an ideal of authenticity that arises in modern society in response to the existential conditions of modernity (1999: 360). « 
  9. I consider avatars and selfies as the new selfportraits, and which I would call « selfportraits 2.0 ». Like augmented selfportraits, selfportraits that have the specificity of representing both the person as actor (photographer) and as subject of the picture. « 2.0 », because they are conceived and transmitted through web 2.0 technologies and seen and experienced by the public that has been transformed through the web 2.0 practices. And I want to refer to my earlier remarks about the formats and the influence they have on reading and interpreting the information. Why are they interesting and why do I want to talk to you about them? After all, you all use them whenever you create an online profile and you might just not pay more attention to them than « I like this picture » or « nice pic ». Now this is where the first fifteen to twenty minutes are supposed to start. And this is where you see it is not gonna work. Anyway, back to avatars and the « selfportrait 2.0 ». Just for a little fun, because I love the picture / and to add a critical note to all sociologists and anthropologists. Because if selfies and avatars are indeed intesting ways to present yourself to the world, they seem foremost interesting for all those who study social media (and those who are in marketing . Now, I am not a purist, and using mecanical devices other than a camera to make a picture of yourself is part of the « avatar », or « selfie » phenomenon, at least within the boundaries of the suject for this lecture.
  10. Selfies have always existed, in a sense, through artists who portrayed themselves. And though we may all not understand fully the ideological, symbolical or political context within which these selfies have been conceived, we do like them because of their artistic value (whatever that may be and don’t forget that artistic value in itself is subject to fashions!). Remember the filters. Filters of culture, filters of interest.
  11. Well, now, let’s face the past. Did you know that there is a people for whom the future is behind their back (since they cannot see it yet), for whom the present is at their outer view (since they can only be partly aware of what is happeneing) and for whom the past is pictured in front of them. So, lets face it . Because selfies also have a history, beyond painting and etching. The first photographed self-portrait seems to be this one, taken by Robert Cornelius, a scientific from Philadelphia, in 1839.
  12. At the time, celebrities followed what became a trend, like Anastasia in 1914 (youngest daughter of the Russian Tchar), who pictured herself with a Kodak Brownie in a mirror.
  13. And a trend it became, as you can see on this picture from about 1920.
  14. But it was not until about a century later that the photographic autoportraits turned into Selfies, in January 2011, when Jennifer lee tagged a picture of herself on Instagram accompagnied by the tag #selfie.
  15. Instagram who confirms over a 35 million pictures tagged with #selfie in October 2013, and that makes a lot of us online. Here you see a heatmap the world, of 100,000 pictures tagged with #me in blue, on Instagram.
  16. Now 35 million selfies on Instagram, that is a whole lot. And here are some of them, for you to enjoy. The least you can say is that people really like to post them. And there are some jewels out there, in digital space, I can tell you… Now, making and diffusing apparently are two differently judged concepts, since…
  17. Bingo! « Selfies are for women », « selfies embody all that is wrong with society today », « selfies make me angry », « selfies are for children and immature people ». I found this great image on a even so great blog, called the http://thecarceralnet.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/selfie-bingo/ - If you are interested in selfies, go and take a reading there!
  18. Popular press and popular comments in general are rather negative about selfies, associating a moralizing attitude towards the widely spread practice. Selfies are positioned alongside narcissistic, mostly female and sometimes sexting practices of « the others  (not me!). Which seems the case for any practice that becomes mainstream, by the way. The screenshot you are looking at is from a video trailer of a series on a Eliza Doodle, who, like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, needs a customization to become a socially accepted person. In an article on The New Inquiry, Anne Burns critisizes the moralizing attitude towards selfies when she says that there seems to be a shared understanding of what selfies are presumed to be (and she tells what that would be) to conclude that « rather than celebrate selfie-taking’s potential for negotiating and performing identity, the practice is positioned alongside women’s use of sexting as indicative of a dangerously out-of-control feminine sexuality. » Well, I do not want to get into the debate of the moralizing of selfies at this point, I just wanted to make a point about the fact that there are indicators saying that selfies have a potential for negotiating and performing identity. http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/selfie-correction/ To see the video trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qJAPLypDnE
  19. Let’s come back to the negociation and personal quest for sociability that selfies – and avatars – may express. Because we all use avatars, some of which may be selfies. We use them to tell something to our publics, and they are certainly part of what the psychiatrist Serge Tisseron would call « extimité »: the parts of the intimacy that people choose to expose to a known public, mostly through online media. This is in the heart of today’s subject: what do I want to disclose, what do I want to hide and how do I juggle between the different options. Related themes are then: why should I do so, where should I do something and what, what is at stake? Let us take a closer look at avatars. Again, selfies can be used as avatars, but all avatars are not selfies. But one way or another, like selfies, avatars tell something about the user behind the profile. And about what that user want to convey about him or her, about his/hers context or aspirations. And, like this avatar, about the type of relation the person imagines, for instance: « I am invisible, but please smile! ». The way we structure our profile pictures becomes thus a conscious choice about how we see ourselves in the digital world and how we consider our relationship to the rest of the (digital) world. When I say « structure them » I want to say « structure the image » as well as the collection of images. We will get back to that later.
  20. So, you can use them to show your temperament, to open up to the other or to hide behind smoke. You can use the same avatar all over the places you create yourself a space, or make sure your image is multiple, more difficult to grasp for a non-initiated through cultural encoding. It all depends on what your ideas about yourself are, how you define your objecfives, how you can picture yourself in your online world.
  21. The first time ever I was really confronted with selfies, was when my youngest daughter posted one as her profile picture on her FB account. At first, I found it disturbing, because it was so close, so revealing and so intimate in my eyes. So I thought I had to tell her not to do so. Until I decided that this was more about me and my reaction about what is appropriate than about her. The term that came up to me was « beyond beauty »: she was not so much concerned with what was considered to be beautiful in the eyes of the masses, but apparently she felt like being confronted with herself in this way and to confront others with this image of herself in her, by the way, very limited, online audience. There is something very beautiful in this image, and something you would like to preserve, though you know that she too, will succomb to the more manufactured images we have gotten used to.
  22. Most of the images we are confronted with are of socially acceptable, adapted, good-looking younger-than-we-are people. Adapted to the medium we are posting them to, like as if Instagram has become a universal code. The ones in which you see girls reproduce exactly the same smile over and over again. I overheard a very young girl say the other day: « I am practicing smiling », which I thought was revealing of the image she gets from how she has to behave online. The fake as a construction of staged authenticity? Well, are we?
  23. I guess you have tried the « uglies » too, lets say, the Snapchat version of Instagram. Some think this is a deliberate way to provoke the all too shiny world of the photoshopped era.
  24. Which may give more than one image of a multiple person, through different networks, as a personal quest for identity, of a relationship with oneself and the world.
  25. Because, no surprise, people will (hopefully!) always challenge mainstream!
  26. THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE SELF , Peter L. Caller , p.6 « self as reflexive process » : « For symbolic interactionists, the self is first and foremost a reflexive process of social interaction. The reflexive process refers to the uniquely human capacity to become an object to one's self, to be both subject and object » Selfies thus reposition the photographer both as an actor (taking a picture) and subject in the image. Selfies and avatars can be serious, challenge mainstream through cynism, beauty, mystery and fake, so through alternative narratives. p. 7 « For Schalbe, Dunn, Wiley, Joas, Perinbanayagam and most other symbolic interactionists, a full understanding of the self begins with the Meadian notion of reflexivity. The self conceived in this way allows for agency, creative action, and the possibility of emancipatory political movement. (…) Just as important, this configuration is not inconcsistent with new postmodern approaches to self and power. » http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/laura-williams-photography
  27. Fernando Stefanich, Barrios Privados. En : Fake. Les cahiers européens de l’imaginaire, mars 2014. P. 272-274 « Now, we also act in written narratives and we can develop multiple identities. Explore relationships through more or less disclosure, more or les proximity. One’s avatar, the meme, may not be flexible in itself, but the multiple identities explored through storytelling can include change, mutation, in the cohesion of a life. One becomes reader and writer or scenarist of his/hers own life ». (Ricoeur 1991)   « Car dans l’ère du storytelling, l’identité de l’homme es devenue narrative : « A la différence de l’identité abstraite du Même, l’identité narrative, constitutive de l’ipséité, peut inclure le changement, la mutabilité, dans la cohésion d’une vie. Le sujet apparaît alors comme lecteur et comme scripteur de sa propre vie. (…). » » (Ricoeur 1991 : 358).   « Cet homme, que nous appellerons homo poeticus, doté d’une identité narrative et multiple, est à la fois auctor et histrio, dramaturge et acteur. Les histoires fictives qu’il se raconte à soi-même mais qu’il raconte spécialement aux autres contribuent à consolider le « moi projeté » de l’homme néolibéral, un moi augmenté, moi amélioré, performant, fictif, un fake social. »   « Véritables huit-clos, les gated communities sont des laboratoires qui nous aident à mieux comprendre la dynamique des liens sociaux dans une société performative qui pousse l’homme à créer des avatars, des clones, des fakes sociaux. »
  28. Let’s have a look at the « me as a collection » But first a few words on « self » and « identity ». « Whiley’s neopragmatism extends this basic principle and merges the pragmatism of Mead and Pierce in arguing that the self, defined in terms of a basic semiotic process of interpretation, is a defining feature of human nature and is thus both transhistorical and universal, a quality that does not extend to identities, which are taken to be social products of the self process ». P.6
  29. This is me, well, this is one of my profile images on Facebook and other accounts. Profile images are very often normalized. At one point, I have chosen for a classical avatar, happy to look at my online self, in front of books, and feeling happy with the person depicted. I really thought it was even a bit unique.
  30. But that was before I found out about avadenticals.org, on which the Dutch Albert Huberts has categorized hundreds of profile photos, avatars and selfies. All of a sudden, I felt less unique, but also well surrounded. Though, since every statement needs an inquiry: are these really the people I want to be seen with, or asked differently: is this the group I want to belong to? They seem to like reading, are certainly expressing something about their intellectual activity, but do they meet all the standards for the other parts that I am constituted of?
  31. Or, would I like to be associated with people drinking beer, as my name might suggest?
  32. The digital identity is often assimilated with narcissistic qualities. Huberts, who conceived the website, states that, in order te be narcisstic, you need an individualistic expression, or a glorification of the self. But watching the enormous amounts of categories, filled with « individually thought » pictures people have (had) taken of themselves, and yet, who are all so look-alikes, one cannot but agree on the fact that we all want to belong to a certain category, or want to state that we are doing so, by mimicing the « right » cultural codes of the group or community. Social construction, rather than narcissism?
  33. This is too much fun not to show to you some more categories (I can spend hours going through these avatars, that are linked to their twitter profiles!). So much for procrastiniation . Communities, as in the ideal places to find a friend or a group of similar friends.
  34. And yes, all kinds of groups do exist. Well, that was for the more fun part of the presentation.
  35. Continuing on the « me in collections », I would like to present a way of looking at « me as a collection ». I borrow this structure of Louise Merzeau, a French social scientist. She has catagorized « the individual as a collection of traces » in declarative traces – behavioral – documentary and reputational traces. It is one way of looking at the subject, and I thought it was an interesting one.
  36. The declarative traces are the ones you leave by… creating Blogs, websites, Leaving Critiques and reactions under articles, Posting biographic, conversational profile or localized information on social media Posting Photos Posting Tweets Participate in discussions on forums http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence What you see here are the connections among the Twitter users who recently tweeted the word waze when queried on January 9, 2012, scaled by numbers of followers (with outliers thresholded). Connections created when users reply, mention or follow one another. The data set starts on 1/9/2012 12:54 and ends on 1/9/2012 18:29 UTC. Green lines are "follows" relationships, blue lines are "reply" or "mentions" relationships.   Layout created with the "Group Layout" feature of NodeXL which tiles bounded regions for each cluster. Clusters calculated by the Clauset-Newman-Moore algorithm are also encoded by color.
  37. Search engine research, Reviews, recommandations, purchases, Playlists Geolocalization + purchases (Foursquare) Email (Gmail) http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence The image you are looking at is a network graph of bookmark tags from aaron.pk/bookmarks/ There is an edge between two tags if they appear together to describe the same bookmark more than once. The edge weight represents how many posts share the pair of tags. https://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/5352881586/
  38. An example of documentary traces could be Pinterest, or Scoop.it, like the screenshot presented. For those of you who don’t know Scoop.it, it is a curation tool, that allows you to bring together relevant information from allover the web, for which you can use their semi-automatic search tool, or a scoop.it « booklet » that allows you to do so really fast. On the moment you want to post, you can diffuse an adapted message to each of the platforms that you have linked to your account. Thus diffusion becomes an objective « en soi ». But then, you can install the widget on your website, taking care also to use the aggregation tools, so that the work you perform on one side (Scoop.it) will be capitalized on at the other end (your website). Documentary traces could be… Sharing knowledge (wikis), Sharing documents in the cloud, Collections and boards on hybrid platforms (Pinterest, Tumblr), Folksonomies (collaborative tagging of people, words, ressources) http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
  39. Now I thought this was a great exemple of a reputational trace, combining the number of retweets with the subject (I will come back to this notion later on). So, reputational traces could be: Friends, circles, lists, groups, Positive and negative reviews and reactions, Quotation, retweets, remix, Rumors Identity theft. http://fr.slideshare.net/louisem/de-lidentit-la-prsence
  40. So we leave our traces everywhere; some of them are conscious, come of them are unconscious; we will be confronted with some of them later in our lives, and some will exist unnoticed. But what we could do, is to use the traces ourselves to find out who we are, online and offline, to position ourselves as the reflexative person we talked about earlier. Are we active on professional, personal, group platforms? Do we construct digital identities in games and other online platforms like Second Life? Do we foster an anonymous, private second or third « me » in concealed online places? And do we disclose our « real » identities? What are our « real » identities, if not an ever evoluating series of traces, connected to a physical format in one way or another? I think it is interesting to see that all the parts of « me », the narrative, civil, acting, pictured « me’s » form a sort of a dynamic plural « me ». So digital platforms and « forms » as a meta caracteristic, can be used to construct the plural « me » as well as to identify and to analyze the « constructed me ». Again, turning back to collections,
  41. And collections are great ways to analyze the constructed me: what is visible, what is missing? What choices do I make, how do people react to them? Again, turning back to collections, the pictures of me tell me – and you – something about who I am, what I (seem to) like, and may disclose parts of my social status, depending on either how apt I am in managing the images that are posted or on fortuity, on or a bit of both.
  42. And the « collection of collections » tells you something about how I see the world (since part of the images are mine) and how I organize it – or don’t. But remember, these images and collections are only the part of my life I want to disclose to you, and they may be fake.
  43. « The public person is not made in the image of a unique self; rather, an interpretive picture of unique self is made in the image of the public person ». Cahill, SE. 1988. Toward a sociology of the person. Sociol. Theory 16: 131-148 (p. 131)
  44. Alain de Botton, in his book Status Anxiety, defines status as Alice Marwick, p.74 Strategic online self-presentation plays an enormous role in increasing one’s social status, how one is viewed both online and off.  (p.6) Reputation and trust, which many others have written about, are not the same as status. Online reputation and trust both refer to systemized ranking systems, or slightly more ineffable qualities that are roughly « what people say about you online ». « Status incorporates and reveals more – the contextual nature of status means that a person’s status an ebb and flow not only throughout their life, but also in the course of a day, making it impossible to pin down with a single metric  (p.75)
  45. Alain de Botton, in his book Status Anxiety, defines status as Alice Marwick, p.74 Strategic online self-presentation plays an enormous role in increasing one’s social status, how one is viewed both online and off.  (p.6) Reputation and trust, which many others have written about, are not the same as status. Online reputation and trust both refer to systemized ranking systems, or slightly more ineffable qualities that are roughly « what people say about you online ». « Status incorporates and reveals more – the contextual nature of status means that a person’s status an ebb and flow not only throughout their life, but also in the course of a day, making it impossible to pin down with a single metric  (p.75)
  46. « Authenticity » and « Being yourself », advice that is emphasized over and over again in social media discourse, have become marketing strategies that encourage instrumental emotional labor. To Merzeau’s « me as a collection of traces », I would like to add: « me as a collection of persons ».
  47. And then, it does things with you and with the others…
  48. Acting on the relationship with and through these persons, in an attempt to foster social capital. Social capital, the whole of connections with people that allow you to benefit from human and financial capital (Burt), is by some seen as creating confidence (Coleman, Putnam), while others consider that confidens fosters social capital (Fukuyama). Are we all friends, competitors or collegues at the end of the day? How diverse is your network, what are the dynamics? Are your present in only strongly bonded networks, where everybody knows each other and where all information is shared by everybody? Or are you bridging the gaps and do you have enough weak ties to benefit from the information you possess but not your competitors?
  49. « Neoliberal perspectives have restructured what it means to be agentive, to be cultural, and to be relational beings, compelling critics of neoliberalism to rethink old strategies. » "A neoliberal perspective insists on seeing all social actors, be they people, communities or nation-states, in terms of corporate individualism—a flexible bundle of skills that reflexively manages oneself as though the self was a business. » And she proceeds with the need "to address two of neoliberalism’s weaknesses—its misrecognition of scale and its inadequacy as a set of moral guidelines." "A sophisticated attention to social organization can reveal the impossibility of neoliberal demands that all relations be constructed as though composed of similar entities operating according to similar principles. » Ilana Gershon, Neoliberal Agency Are digital cultures universal? How do we develop our digital selves with regards to others and their cultures in a respectful and understanding way?