Web Identities by Azita Najibi & William Francisco Smith December 2007 Collaboration in Networked Environments Graduate Media Studies NMDS 5326 A CRN: 6364 Instructor: Josephine Dorado
Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture.
While the networking form of social organisation has existed in other times and spaces, the information technology paradigm provides the material basis for its pervasive expansion through the entire social structure. (Castells 1996:469) Watch our mash-up here: http://www. jumpcut .com/view?id=99C81B7AA92111DCBCD4000423CF381C
Before the advent of the Internet there was art. While identity got obscured through art • From realistic portraits of rich art patrons • To abstract art of the 20 th and 21 st century
Identity on the Internet became clarified. • From pseudonyms such as foxysexy21 • To realistic portrayals of ourselves constantly updated
When communication became a trend. It is an innate need to communicate, hence the grand leaps in telecommunications.
Car phones, pagers, mobile phones became symbols and trends. They weren’t only there to assist communications, instead they went the extra mile to communicate something about you.
Personality and personalisation was attached to products: For example: what mobile phone you own and ring-tone you have says something about you.
Online identity became an extension of ourselves, similar to the way our clothing, demeanour, and appearance says something about who we are in the real world.
Avatars in games like Second Life, personal branding and profiles on web sites like and , say who we are to the entire virtual world.
We are moving from modernist calculation to postmodernist simulation, where the self is a multiple, distributed system (Turkle 1996:148)
The Internet and the Construction of Contemporary Identities The identities that emerge from these (Internet) interactions – fragmented, complex, diffracted through the lenses of technology, culture and new technoculture formations – seem to be …more visible as the critters we ourselves are in the process of becoming, here at the close of the mechanical age. (Stone 1996:36)
In the story of constructing identity in culture of simulation, experience on the Internet figure prominently, but these experiences can only be understood as part of a larger cultural context.
… From scientist trying to create artificial life to children ‘morphing’ through a series of virtual personae, we shall see evidence of fundamental shifts in the way we create and experience human identity.
… In the real-time communities of cyberspace, we are dwellers on the threshold between the real and the virtual, unsure of our footing, inventing ourselves as we go along. (Turkle 1995:10)
1. The Internet is harmful. 2. The Internet is positive. (Baym, Zhang and Lin 2001) What does the research to date have to say about the Internet and the possible transformation of self? There have been two major stances on the Internet’s social effects on one’s identity and integration into the larger social world:
Negative The Home net study (1998) and The Internet and Society Study of Nie and Erbing (2000) These two studies argue that the use of the Internet challenges traditional relationships, lessens total social involvement, increases loneliness, and depression (Burnett and Marshall 2003:66)
<ul><li>Positive </li></ul><ul><li>The UCLA Center for Communication Policy (2000) </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>The Pew Project on the Internet and American Life (2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Internet users spend more time with clubs and volunteer </li></ul><ul><li>organizations than non-users. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Internet users were more socially active than non-users. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Online Americans say their use of email has increased the amount of contact they have with key family members and friends. </li></ul><ul><li>(Burnett and Marshall 2003:67) </li></ul>
Personal Web Sites Prior to web pages, only the privileged—celebrities, politicians, media magnates, advertisers had access to the mass audience. (Dominick 1997:647) Online self presentation provides a level of information control that is not normal in real life interaction. (Burnett and Marshall 2003)
How do people represent themselves via web pages? People used links on their home pages as a means of social association, so that by providing a set of links to other sites, people indirectly defined themselves by listing their interests. (Dominick 1999)
Web based invitational strategies, identifying the following: feedback mechanisms—email, guestbook, vertical hierarchies—the position of items on the page top to bottom, personal expertise, external validation—awards, direct address and personality. (Smith 1998)
What about our identity attracts us to the web? 1. Our identity may not be attached to our physical bodies. 2. Our reconstruction of our identity is elusive. 3. We can blend private and public aspects of our identities. 4. Gender is at the center of identity construction. 5. The web is an elaborate hub for the formation of new collective identities. (Burnett and Marshall 2003)
Conclusion The convergence of the Internet and media is changing the way people interact and represent themselves. The internet cuts across geographical and time lines that were previously impossible and opens a new space in which to interact. The Internet is providing immediacy and interactivity, and as a result, collaboration has become fundamental to using the net.
Conclusion In addition, ‘users’ are finding their voice and distinguishing themselves through branding and personalization of their identities. Our virtual identities are not only an extension of ourselves, they are better versions of ourselves
Conclusion The Internet has given us a "second chance" if you will. So much about online identities is trying to market yourself in a way that is better than who you are in the real world, simply because on the Internet you are given better marketing tools. You can work on your profile for hours, fine tune your avatar for days, and add a number of cool features promoting your tastes. And, all this work is for millions to see. For all these reasons, online identities have moved towards a second reality—a second life.
Conclusion We are yet to know what the changes in our online identities and internet use implies to society as a whole, but we feel the changes that will occur—overall, will generally be positive. Among other things, the Internet is decentralizing traditional power structures and empowering users at the grassroots level, providing opportunities to give a voice to the voiceless for the benefit of society.