Topic 2: a reflection

I have spent a fair amount of the past two weeks examining concepts and perceptions of identities online. What has stood out to me is the sheer range of ideas presented.

As part of this topic, I’ve had several thought-provoking discussions. Firstly, Callum had insights around ‘real name’ policies used by Facebook etc. the effect on choice. This led to a discussion of the motivations behind such policies (advertising etc.) and the consequences, including the increasing use of tools such as TOR. However, Facebook etc. require offline authentication (such as passports) so the impact of these tools is limited.

In a similar way, I commented on Ed’s post. Questions included do you think anonymous services will complete on privacy? Is a single online identity ever a good thing?

Rachel and I also had a discussion on Costa and Torres’ ‘fragmented’ digital identities, a ‘halfway house’ of digital identity. I had not come across this idea before and it was helpful in understanding people’s differing personas online. We also considered the idea of ‘informed consent’ and whether current Web services enable it.

Finally, but by no means least, Patricia introduced me to Goffman’s ideas on my post. In particular, how these ideas translate online, what is the ‘stage’ and how do we ‘act’? Is Web is too complex to represent as a stage? I offered that different services online are different stages, and, that we all wear ‘masks’ (pseudonyms) that allow us to play different roles. As Patricia summarised: “actors can give a convincing performance, on various stages, without the audience ever knowing their true identity”. More research is needed here!

All in all, there are many forces at play in our online identities. As Wil said in his post “we are who applications and other users say we are”

Word count: 299


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