I am interested in the notions of identity, their tranformation in everchaning societies and particulary in online identity. According to Foucault in industrial society individuality is constructed. The self can be seen as a defensive mechanism related to the administrative aspects of society. In postindustrial society the self encounters new paths through informational interchanges and the rise of new technologies. The work of Harraway and her notions of fragmented identities express the optimistic view on technological liberation and the self, however some years later critical approaches with concepts like the institutional self (Illouz), multiple selfs (Lovink), posthuman critisism(Hayles) emerge. Some fragments of positivism can though be detected in other more contempotary writers, for example Cheungs approach to personal homepages as emancipatory media and Turkles earlier works on internet identities and therapeutic possibilities. Transhumanist NVitaMore speaks about the right on the design of the self but agrees with Hayles on some aspects of criticism. Why would we like to have an uploaded version of a person without the person? Hayles particulary expresses hesitations about how our consciousness would change and be something we cant imagine.Additonally she raises questions around the figure of the cyborg and the posthuman, informational patterns and distributed cognition.
Humans consist of biological information but driven from the cyborg example, we can argue that if the self and identity are constructions (of the mind), particularly in the networked society they are constructed and built not only on informational patters but also on information collections, metadata and in a distributed context. And a model to understand this construction and the design of them is the database. Morevoer we could emhpasize the fact that the person of participatory capitalism is the outcome of participatory (self) design methodologies that share a lot with curator and librarian practises, like narrative construction or deconstruction approaches, mixing objects to create versions, taxonomy and folskonomy. Identity seems to have been always built on metadata. Modern identity includes basic metadata which give us names and place us in time and space, but also biological charakteristics, political and religion beliefs, photographs, symbols, traces of bureocracy and stability, control and demand. Postmodern identity has been exposed in a new spectrum of possibilities, related with the movements of the 60s and 70s, ICT and the rise of neoliberalism. In parallel, during the 70s information literacy concepts emerge. Is this new personality model desired within the competative service based marketplace that Lazzarato describes or a way to form a more strong skilled person that would be also flexible in managing its own information collections in order to reestablish a coherent personal narrative in the sense of the reflexive project of the self of Giddens? Networked/ online identites can be read as the identities of the societies of dictributed network, computer and protocol.
In a transition taking place withing the information age that virtualy consists of the transformation of information societies to postinformation societies, new possibilites, new methodologies and new anxieties emerge related to identity and the self. From identity exploration we are driving to identity curation and self preservation. This seems to underline the consructed charakter of identity and its relation to design. What has changed in the way we perceive and present ourselves within social networking? Turkle in her latest book Together Alone claims that individuals want to customize their lives and exercise control in every aspect of it. Is this the outcome of participatory capitalism? Is the self still a defensive mechanism that would support the individual or as Jaime de Val believes, the self is a part of imperialistic tradition and historical continuity?Following this notion of the self that de Val points out and connecting it with Turkle, we could argue that the presentation of the self and its new online identities appear to have a more aggresive charakter and share an attitude towards control. On the other side, we could argue that the online information collecting and social networking may offer a field for the construction of a coherent personal narrative in the sense of Giddens. As one is managing a variety of personal collections and profiles possibly can gain a relatively more coherent sense of how he/she is presented and perceived, which is again a matter of control.