Friday, October 02, 2009

Owning Your Online Identity

Facebook affords you an identity. I don't mean to be speaking metaphysically. I mean that when you sign up with Facebook you are issued a unique identifier (similar to a driver's license or a social security card) and, over the course of your Facebook career, that identifier comes to be attached to other identifiers, to your posted verbal communications, to the various apps to which you subscribe, etc. You have some control over this identity and, as recent history shows, you may have some say in how your identity may be used (if enough people agree with you and let Facebook know).

Facebook, however, ultimately owns your identity on Facebook. Facebook monetizes your identity. Alternative arrangements are possible. Chris Messina discusses these (and many more aspects of online identity in the socially networked web world) in this (somewhat technical) lecture.

I find it particularly fascinating because his exploration of some of the dimensions of online identity resonated with my study (mostly long ago) of the negotiation of identity in face-to-face interactions.   It is interesting to think of what Chris Messina is talking about in connection with the work of such sociologists as Erving Goffman, sociolinguists such as William Labov and Penelope Eckert, students of nonverbal communication like Paul Ekman and Adam Kendon and conversation analysts such as Harvey Sacks and Emanuel Schegloff.

Identity is the Platform from Chris Messina on Vimeo.

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