Presentation on theme: "Identity in Cyberspace What is identity?. Identity is: The answer to the question, “who am I?” -- can include your gender, your race or ethnicity, family."— Presentation transcript:
Identity in Cyberspace What is identity?
Identity is: The answer to the question, “who am I?” -- can include your gender, your race or ethnicity, family background, class, nationality, religion, political ideology, physical appearance, etc.
The Enlightenment View Identity is unified, fixed and stable; i.e. “we are born into our identities” Based on the Cartesian subject (transparent, omnipresent, self-identical, etc.) Essentialist: there is a truth about one’s identity, an essence, which can be discovered through science (psychology, genetics) or rigorous introspection (philosophy).
Postmodernist/ Poststructuralist View Anti-essentialist. Human beings have no essence; they are what they make of themselves and they are constantly in the process of becoming. Self is a “project” not a “thing” Much postmodernist work is devoted to debunking stable categories of identity.
Michel Foucault Insisted that all fixed stable identities are “socially constructed” Discourse of psychoanalysis and sexology, law and religion “invented” homosexuality Psychiatry invented madness The prison, the workhouse and modern criminology invented the juvenile delinquent.
Judith Butler Sees “gender” as not simply a social construction but as a “performance” We all “act out” our gender in various social situations So, in a sense, for Butler we are all “cross-dressers” Seems to suggest that gender identity is a choice
Identity in the online environment Bell thinks questions of identity are paramount in the online environment. Why? -- Because it is much easier to control our self-presentation, the performance of our identity, online.
Take the Personal Home Page Jonathan Sterne Jonathan Sterne Jonathan Sterne Mahir Cagri Mahir Cagri Mahir Cagri Wil Wheaton Wil Wheaton Wil Wheaton Becki Smith Becki Smith Becki Smith Cindy Johnson Cindy Johnson Cindy Johnson
How do personal pages “narrate” the self? Bios Links Photos Graphics Blogs/updates These sites can reveal previously hidden aspects of the self; they can also tailor the self to perceived audience (family, friends, potential employers, perfect strangers) These sites can reveal previously hidden aspects of the self; they can also tailor the self to perceived audience (family, friends, potential employers, perfect strangers)
Fluid Identity Personal pages show fairly clearly that identity online is fluid, malleable and subject to constant revision.
MUDs and MOOs What is a MUD? What is a MOO? What is it that users do in these communities? What do they actually see when they are participating in these dimensions/communities?
Gender Online Does gender matter online? How are gender images/categories deployed in cyberspace? How does gender identification work in cyberspace? How does it work in a MUD like LambdaMOO? Turkle notes that there is a lot of virtual crossdressing going on in MUDs. Why do people “switch genders” online? Does online culture lead to a loosening or traditional gender categories or to a reinforcement of them?
Cybersex? What does cybersex (in MUDs, for instance) consist of? What is the appeal of cybersex for its participants? In Turkle’s article, she discusses a number of spouses who express jealousy at the fact that their partners are engaging in cybersex. Do you think they are justified? Is rape possible in cyberspace? Was what Mr. Bungle did in LambdaMOO really rape? What does the case of the “rape in cyber space” say about the connection between online personae and real-world people?