Digital Identity

To begin, we might first consider—what is a digital identity? And, how and how does digital identity fit into the digital humanities?

As nicely put by Wikipedia (9.10.11), digital identity is “the aspect of digital technology that is concerned with the mediation of people's experience of their own identity and the identity of other people and things. Digital identity also has another common usage as the digital representation of a set of claims made by one digital subject about itself or another digital subject.” Here, mediation is the key component to digital identities. DHers are interested in the concept of digital identity precisely because identity as mediated and constructed through technology creates a spectrum of possibilities for what identity can be. On the one hand, a digital identity might be a subject’s best ideas for an “accurate” representation of who they imagine themselves to be. On the other, as was the ultimate fear of the public and simultaneously the ultimate ideal for humanities scholars, a subject might choose to digitally represent themselves in ways that are inaccurate to their understanding of their own identity in real life.

In the video below, Dr. Claire Warwick, Digital Humanities scholar at the University College London, offers an introduction to how the Digital Humanities have been looking at digital identities. Specifically, she looks at what it means to investigate digital identities on Twitter with the 140 character limitations and lack of any real profile space. One important distinction she explains is the shift in thinking and terminology regarding digital identity from the early internet scholars to more contemporary Web 2.0 research on digital identities. While Warwick touches on this historical divide, as I explore digital identities I will work towards exploring this split in more detail.

Donna Haraway’s classic 1991 essay “A Cyborg Manifesto” theorizes the dangers and potentials of cyborg identity. While Haraway’s socialist feminist perspective and immense contextual scope are not necessarily indicative of all early digital identity scholarship, the essay does utilize the common Web 1.0 terminology and suggest sub-areas of digital identity scholarship that were picked up by other DHers. Haraway is interested in the cyborg identity as a site of hybridity for blending identities. She argues that cyberspace can only be a more just social sphere by our conscious effort to construct it as thus. Although many early internet scholars only saw cyberspace through the rose-colored lenses of a utopian, truly democratic space, Haraway presents a more complicated version that recognizes the capitalist, patriarchal, racist roots from which cyborgs and cyberspace emerged. Nonetheless, she ends by claiming “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess,” still hopeful of the possibilities of the self-determined hybridity of cyborg identity.


More Contemporary Digital Identity Work


Posthuman (Digital) Identity


Digital Identity Works Cited (In Progress)

Andrejevic, Mark B. “Surveillance and Alienation in the Online Economy.” Surveillance & Society 8.3 (2011)

Boyd, Danah. “Bibliography of Research on Social Network Sites.”

---. “Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence.” Convergence, 2008.
---. "White Flight in Networked Publics?: How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with Myspace and Facebook." In Digital Race Anthology (Eds. Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White). Routledge. (Forthcoming)

Boyd, Danah and Alice E. Marwick. “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.” New Media & Society 13.1 (2011): 114-33.

Computers and Composition 16.1 (1999): 1-207. Special Issue on “Computers, Composition and Gender.” Ed. Lisa Gerrad.

Computers and Composition 14.2 (1997): 163-308. Special Issue on “Body, Identity, and Access.”

Dibbel, Julian. "A Rape in Cyberspace." ch. 1 from My Tiny Life, 1998.

Domain Errors!: Cyberfeminist Practices. Eds. Maria Fernandez et al. Autonomedia, 2003.

Feminist Cyberscapes: Mapping Gendered Academic Spaces. Eds. Kristine Blair and Pamela Takayoshi. Praeger, 1999.

Haraway, Donna. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991: 149-181.

Hogan, Bernie. "The Presentation of Self in the Age of Social Media: Distinguishing Performances and Exhibitions Online." Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society. 30.6 (2010): 377-86.

JAC 20.4 (2000). Special Cluster on “Post-Human Rhetorics”

Kennedy, Helen. "Beyond Anonymity, or Future Directions for Internet Research." New Media & Society. 8.6 (2006): 859-76.

Liu, Hugo. “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13.1 (2007).

Petersen, Søren Mørk. “Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation.” First Monday 13.3-3 (2008)

Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2002.

---. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet.University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Nakamura, Lisa and Peter Chow-White. Race After the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Nussbaum, Emily. "Say Everything." New York, February 12, 2007.

Regan Shade, Leslie. //Gender & Community in the Social Construction of the Internet.// New York: Peter Lang, 2002.

Robinson, Laura. "The Cyberself: the self-ing project goes online, symbolic interaction in the digital age." New Media & Society. 9.1 (2007): 93-110.

Turkle, Sherry. “Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self.” In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.

---.Life on Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

---. Simulation and Its Discontents. MIT Press, 2009.

Vectors 3.1 (2007) Issue on "Difference."

Women and Everyday Uses of the Internet. Eds. Mia Consalvo and Susanna Paasonen. New York: Peter Lang, 2002.

Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. Ed. David Buckingham. MIT Press, 2007. Table of Contents (free PDFs).