Idenity and Stickiness

Brand Post-It Note Meaning Trademark And Identity

Distributed Idenity and Stickiness

I really enjoy reading Sheila Webber’s Information Literacy blog, but I must admit I enjoy her Second Life blog even more. In the SL blog, writing as Sheila Yokishawa, she writes as her alter ego – her second life avatar. I love the way the blogs are separate but that they work together in some way, sometimes referring to each other. Sheila weaves her way between the spaces and somehow this has an effect on a kind of distributed identity across the spaces. (More of Distributed Identity later; I want to explore this idea when on study Leave over the next few months). Other peoples web spaces also interact in interesting ways – e.g from blog, to Flickr, to professional sites.

Anyhow, catching up with Sheila Yoshikawa’s blog today, I noticed how in the 12th January post she mentions chocolate.

As is quite customary on Sheila’ blog she begins with a series of ratings:

No of meetings attended: 2 (good); No. of trees felled: 8 (good); No of trees planted: 7 (good); No. of times have tagged a blog entry with the word “chocolate”: 0 until today (surprising: in RL would probably have to tag every day “chocolate”)

I am assuming that in Real Life Sheila is trying not to eat chocolate at the moment. This has made me think about the idea of stickiness…. . Here I am not talking about chocolate smears, but about the way there are certain aspects of our offline selves that show through our online selves. There are aspects that we decide to show and tell about; it is all about display (Guy and I wrote about this in our chapter on academic blogging). Then there is stuff which we betray about ourselves which comes through no matter what – aspects of our identity that stick like burrs. Maybe it is our anglo-centrism; maybe it is our love of chocolate.

Guy Merchant has written about identity in terms of anchored and transient identities – with the transient aspects appearing and disappearing at different times of our lives. But anchored aspects – perhaps gender – stay with most of us all our lives.

I think there are some choices we make about identity online, and what aspects we decide to ‘bring with us’. I am going to think about these aspects as ‘sticky’; they stay with an individual across spaces. Other aspects, we might choose to disconnect ourselves from. This is why some people find the Internet liberating (the disabled, for example); others may find the Internet frustrating and so for example, things like learning difficulties may have a stickiness that limit our ability to participate online.

Finally … the snow took me by surprise when I came to walk home this evening. It was quite beautiful as massive flakes of snow fell and quickly created a carpet everywhere:

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