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An ‘open source’ networked identity - Slides from Youth 2.0


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An ‘open source’ networked identity - On young people’s construction and co-construction of identity on social network sites

Paper presentation at: “Youth 2.0 – Affordances, Uses and Risks of Social Media”, University of Antwerp, March 21th 2013

Published in: Education
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An ‘open source’ networked identity - Slides from Youth 2.0

  1. 1. An ‘open source’ networkedidentity- On young people’s construction and co-construction of identity on social network sites
  2. 2. About me and my research•Assistant Professor, PhD,Department of Communication,Aalborg University•Research area: Social media anddigital youth culture•MA thesis on Danish SNSArto (2005)•PhD on Danish teens’ use of variousSNS (2007-2010)•Newest research project: "Intimacy,social media andyouth”
  3. 3. Aim of the paper• To illustrate how young people’s practices of friendship maintenance and identity construction on SNS are related• To analyse how Danish teens co-construct each other’s identity through the use of emotional communication •  a quite distinct discourse of Love between close ties (best friends/’BFF’s’)• To introduce the term ‘open source’ networked identity as a metaphor for understanding the collaborative presentation of identity or identity-through-social-interaction among Danish youth on SNS
  4. 4. Empirical background• Eight years of qualitative research and participant observations on various SNS• Multi-sited connective virtual ethnography (Marcus, 1995; Strathern, 1996; Hine, 2000)  Snowballing (Bijker, 1995)
  5. 5. Empirical background• I created profiles (as myself)
  6. 6. Empirical background• I made ’friends’
  7. 7. Empirical background• I wrote field notes  ”I feel I have a hard time keeping track of my different friends (who is who – who writes what to me and who have I written to). Especially, it is confusing that users can freely change their user names and profile pictures […]. Based on this, I can conclude that it is easier to navigate ones’ friends if you know them IRL.” (Larsen, 2005, p. 223))
  8. 8. Empirical background• I took (a lot of) screenshots
  9. 9. Empirical background• I had informal conversations online + conducted focus group interviews
  10. 10. Empirical background•I applied a different (more qualitative) approach to collectonline questionnaire data ( 2400 respondents)
  11. 11. Empirical background• I coded the data using a Grounded Theory inspired approach (Gibbs, 2002; Welsh, 2002)
  12. 12. Overall theoretical and methodological approach•Nexus analysis (e.g. Scollon & Scollon, 2004; Scollon, 2001a, 2001b)•Focusing on central mediated actions carried out by social actors– rather than focusing solely on discourse•Actions are always mediated by technologies or cultural artefacts(mediational means)•Nexus of practice: ‘a genre of activities’ - the field where humans,discourses and cultural artefacts intersect•Danish teens’ use of SNS analysed as a nexus of practice wherecommunicating emotions are among the most prominent mediatedactions and cycles of discourses
  13. 13. The concept of identity• Inspired by Lemke’s (2008) division of identity-in-practice and identity across timescales Identity across timescalesIdentity-in-practice:• The short timescales of situated small-group activity Identity-in-Identity across timescales: practice• Larger institutional scales and lifespan developments• Co-existing concepts on SNS (Larsen, 2007, 2012)
  14. 14. The Love discourse among Danish teens•“Hi my always lovely honey <3 Guess what? (; I love you – SOOOmuch, and you know what, actually more than that! You mean theworld to me! You are always so wonderful. So cool, funny, great,sweet, beautiful, charming, wonderful, loving, great… I could go on,beautiful. You are EVERYTHING!” (Message on the front page of a 16-year-old girl’s Arto profile – written by her best friend)•Discourse with a capital G: • ”… socially accepted associations among ways of using language, of thinking, valuing, acting, and interacting, in the “right” places and at the “right” times with the “right” objects…” (Gee, 1999, p. 17)
  15. 15. The Love discourse among Danish teens•In stead of writing about themselves in profile text usersoften write about their best friends•Status updates, blog posts ect.often mention best friends andhow much they love them•Usernames will often includename of ‘BFF’s’: • “idascarolineforever” (user name belonging to a 12-year-old girl named Ida – Caroline is her best friend)
  16. 16. The Love discourse among Danish teens•They “get married” online•They use tagging creatively(e.g. “If you are tagged in thispicture, I love you!”)•The best message:”I love you”“Because it makes me warm insideand makes me feel like someoneeverybody loves :D” (15-year-old boy)“it means a lot to me when someonesays they love me and that I know thatthey mean it.” (15-year-old girl)
  17. 17. Youthful emotions in public space•Emotional communication is almost always publiclyaccessible within the SNS•Not one-to-one, but most often one-to-many, asynchronous(mass) communication•Frontstage (in stead of backstage)(Goffman, 1959)•”… it is nice to know what someone elsethinks of you, and it’s nice that he writesin public so that others can see how fondhe is of me :D” (15 year old girl)
  18. 18. Friends as mediational means•Messages from friends become elementsin the individual user’s performance ofidentity-in-practice Messages from the ones that matter!!
  19. 19. An ‘open source’ networked identity•Danish teens are co-constructors of each other’s identities, especiallyby communicating youthful emotions in public space on SNS•Users “help” one another create a desirable online identity•They often invite each other to fill out profile texts thus, leaving ’the source code’ open•They (strategically) use each other as mediational means•The users are dependent on a network of close friends as part of theirrelational networked identity•That’s why “I love you” messages are so highly rated among teens•Good relations to friends and a flattering profile with positivestatements become important elements in the construction of identityonline
  20. 20. Thank you :) AAU profile with publications
  21. 21. References• Bijker, W. E. (1995). Of bicycles, bakelites, and bulbs: toward a theory of sociotechnical change. Inside technology. Cambridge: MIT.• Gee, J. P. (1999). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. London: Routledge.• Gibbs, G. R. (2002). Qualitative data analysis: explorations with NVivo. Buckingham: Open University Press.• Hine, C. (1998). Virtual Ethnography. In IRISS 98: Conference Papers. Retrieved from• Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life (Vol. Reprint). Harmondsworth: Penguin.• Hine, C. (2000). Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage Publications.• Larsen, M. C. (2005). Ungdom, venskab og identitet - en etnografisk undersøgelse af unges brug af hjemmesiden Arto. Institut for Kommunikation, Aalborg Universiet• Larsen, M. C. (2007). Understanding Social Networking: On Young People’s Construction and Co-construction of Identity Online. In Proceedings from the conference Internet Research 8.0: Let’s Play, Association of Internet Researchers, Vancouver. Association of Internet Researchers.• Larsen, M. C. (2009). Sociale netværkssider og digital ungdomskultur: Når unge praktiserer venskab på nettet. MedieKultur, 47, 45-65.• Larsen, M.C. (2010). Unge og online sociale netværk – en neksusanalytisk undersøgelse af medierede handlinger og offentlige diskurser. Ph.d.-afhandling, Institut for Kommunikation, AAU.• Larsen, M.C. (2011). Ungdommelige følelser i offentlige rum. Tidsskriftet Barn. Nr. 3-4: ”Digitale medier i barn og unges hverdag”, Norsk Senter for Barneforskning• Larsen, M. C. (2012). Børn, unge og sociale netværkssider. Hvad ved vi? I Sociale netværkssider som tekst og kontekst, Systime, 2012
  22. 22. References• Larsen, M. C., & Ryberg, T. (2011). Youth and Online Social Networking: From Local Experiences to Public Discourses. In E. Dunkels, G.-M. Frånberg, & C. Hällgren (Eds.), Youth Culture and Net Culture: Online Social Practices. IGI Global.• Lemke, J. L. (2008). Identity, Development and Desire: Critical Questions. In Identity Trouble: Critical Discourse and Contested Identities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.• Norris, S., & Jones, R. H. (Eds.). (2005). Discourse in Action: Introducing Mediated Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.• Marcus, G. E. (1995). Ethnography In/Of the World System: the Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24, 95–117.• Ryberg, T., & Larsen, M. C. (2008). Networked Identities: Understanding Relations Between Strong and Weak Ties in Networked Environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(2), 103–115.• Scollon, R. (2001a). Action and Text: Towards an integrated understanding of the place of text in social (inter)action, mediated discourse analysis and the problem of social action. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 139-183). London: Sage Publications.• Scollon, R. (2001b). Mediated discourse: The Nexus of Practice. London; New York: Routledge.• Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (2004). Nexus Analysis: Discourse and the Emerging Internet. London; New York: Routledge.• Strathern, M. (1996). Cutting the network. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2(3), 517.• Welsh, E. (2002). Dealing with Data: Using NVivo in the Qualitative Data Analysis Process. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 3 (No. 2).