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Will Reader

Interesting post Martin. This is very reminiscent of Erving Goffman's work on the presentation of the self and the dramaturgical perspective (I seem to recall us sniggering through this at Hatfield thinking that it was all bleedin' obvious). As well as potentially allowing for more 'identities' (I'll explain the scare quotes later) social media can potentially serve to restrict your identity. If you have you family, university friends, rugby club mates and fellow bible-studies members following you on Twitter, which 'face' (to use Goffman's term) do you present? By bringing people together you can restrict the range of selves that you present in any one realm.

The scare quotes are that I *hate* the word 'identity' (they were normal quotes) because I don't know what it means. It also assumes that we know ourselves, and there's quite a bit of research showing that this is not the case.

Keep it up.



I'm not sure that you can measure what you call 'riffability' - after all, 10,000 people may fail to modify an idea, only for one person with a flash of insight to do something which subsequently seems *really obvious* with it.

Also, when you talk about identities, it does seem like you could get rid of the words "online" or "academic". After all, people have different identities as mums, CEOs, volunteers at charities, with their girl friends, or as wives - to name but a few. Whilst I believe that the principle certainly extends to online, I don't believe that the online identity has any radical differences, compared to the differences between other identities.


@Will - I think it is that fear of restriction that will lead to deliberately delineated identities. Agree about the term - it's a 'jazz up that I'm saying the bleeding obvious' term, but at the same time it does seem to me to be what it's about. I don't think people necessarily set out to create a particular identity, but rather it becomes emergent from their multiple activity on different sites.
@Christian - I wasn't seriously proposing a 'riffability quotient' or anything, just suggesting riffability might be a characteristic of how ideas spread online.
Re identity - yes, I agree that we have multiple facets to our identities in real space (that's what I meant by I find people strange who boast at not having these). But I think online _is_ different because in real space those identities are separated by physical space - you may be a different person with your gran and your rugby mates, but the two are unlikely to be in the same space together, so separation is easy. Online everyone can see every facet of you. So, you have to deliberately create the separation that occurs 'naturally' in real space.


It would definitely be interesting to look into the identity thing further. After all, you are to some degree separated by interest on the internet - I may be wildlife photography fanatic on flickr, book enthusiast on vox, someone quite close to a professional persona on LinkedIn, and the me which most of my friends know on Facebook - because that's who I mostly interact with. I think it's possible that we do separate ourselves in cyberspace, but I'm not sure that it's a wholly conscious decision - it's just the way it all pans out.

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