Thursday, November 1

01/11/2012 - Identities as Performance

Here in the limbo time between 8am and when everyone arrives (extended, no doubt, due to the Halloween party last night), I've got time to consider my options when it comes to my PhD. One of the things about being here in limbo is that sometimes the disparate second year PhD students who have been carted off to their respective departments will wander down to ultilise the coffee machine or leftover cake - and I can usually bounce ideas off them or at least take a bit of comfort from their seeming lack of direction which mirrors my own.

Recently I've been toying with the idea of Performance. As I keep explaining to other people when I mention that word - I don't mean performance as in art or dance. Nor do I mean performance in terms of a measurement of success of an action. I mean performance as in playing a role, in any context.
I'm still playing with Identity as my main topic. Throw Performance into their and you've got "Identity as Performance".

This has some interesting implications (which I'll display as dichotomies):

  • Identities as primarily transient, brief and temporal - rather than structured, tangible or permanent.
  • Identities as performed, rather than built.
Social media, then, is a series of performances to an audience - as opposed to a lasting record of your life.

This is really building on E.Goffman's work on identity and interaction. Goffman argued that we are always performing, even when alone - we all have roles to play; each different for person and situation. There is Will at the office, Will on the sofa at home, Will at a family meal and Will in an important meeting. Each of these is a performance.

I think it would be interesting to see if there is a Will on facebook, and a Will on Twitter, and a Will on his blog, in a game, on a forum, on Skype, on Talk Tyria, on YouTube... etc.

Tuesday, October 9

09/10/12 - Discarding Titles

I've been dancing around a few research ideas since I first planned to apply for a PhD. I started off with a continuation of my post-grad masters dissertation title: "Exploring the Validity and Accuracy of Digital Identities in Blogging Communities" - I eventually put this idea to rest, I wasn't happy with my first piece of work on the subject and wanted to draw a line under the whole affair.

Over the past few weeks I dallied in ""Exploring the efficacy of Gamification for encouraging positive online behaviour" as mentioned in one of my previous posts. I was very enthusiastic about this idea for a while, now I think I have cold feet about how applied the whole idea is - it would certainly involve the process of setting up the "game" to examine how effective it might be - and I'm generally uncomfortable with conclusions drawn from experiments in lab settings.

So, I've been thinking over the past few days and have come up with a list of a few topics which I'm interested in and would like to explore, and then some titles and subjects which knit them together:

  • Future/near future technologies
  • Digital Identity
  • Gamification
  • Social Media
  • Video Games
  • Labelling
  • Representation
  • Mass Media
  • Moral Panic
Gamification, social media and identity obviously go nicely together in the title I named above. Future/Near Future technologies, video games and representation also go quite well together - something along the lined of "Examining the representation of near future technologies in Video Games" would be a great topic to explore - I just don't think I could justify the time spent on it. Perhaps when I'm a bought and paid for researcher I might be able to run with it, but not right now. 
So, I've been thinking of going with Digital Identity, Mass Media and Moral Panic. I've got a good basis in digital identity, and have a decent reading list already drawn up (which needs significant expansion, true, but it's a good place to start). I think I'm leaning more and more towards something along the lines of:

"Examining the Representation of Digital Identities in the Mass Media"
It's a start, I suppose. 

Wednesday, October 3

03/10/2012 - Security Breach! Warning!

Experienced a very "Digital Economy" relevant event today. In fact, it's a bit of an internet rite of passage really - I got hacked. Well, in truth I probably got "phished" and subsequently all my followers on twitter received a message telling them of an exciting new promotion, or a video which contains them. Most of my fellow internet patrons are clever enough not to follow the link and just send me scolding messages or correct the grammar - so, thankfully, I reckon the damage will be minimal.

Nonetheless, a standard internet clean-up has begun. Changed all my passwords, revoked all app access to Facebook and Twitter, restored my phone to factory settings, ran full anti virus and ad-aware scan on my computer. Sent out numerous apologetic tweets and messages.

I've never been hacked before, not in my email, game or any other accounts. I have to say I feel like an inner circle of mine has been penetrated (steady yourself). As far as I'm aware this is a fairly standard reaction - I'm more angry at myself really. I've just started a doctorate course which focuses heavily on internet security, privacy and identity, and within a fortnight of my first day I'm already letting the side down. Epic failure.

So, if you're one of the unlucky people to have received a message from me in the past few days: please ignore it. And if you receive one from this point on, please let me know - because I'll need to take further action to plug the hole.

Friday, September 28

28/09/12 - Positive Online Behaviour

A lot of people on my course seem to have arrived with at least half-formed ideas of what they want to be studying over the next four years. Myself, I've turned up with a pen and paper and a relatively empty brainbox. I'm hoping that over the first few months of taught lectureship something will click in my brain and I'll be whisked away by a good idea. But who knows.

I did have a bit of a brainwave last night. One of those thoughts that are so good you actually consider getting out of bed to note it down - but then you weigh that impulse against the ambient temperature of your room outside of the duvet and roll back over to sleep. The idea was as follows:

"Exploring the efficacy of Gamification for encouraging positive online behaviour"

I had to write a little bio about myself and my research interests earlier this week, and I put that my interests are in "digital identity, decentered selves and gamification". The first two ideas go hand in hand, but the third is a little off-the-wall. I also wrote that I'd like to find a way to mash the three ideas together. I'm hoping that the above title (or some iterative evolution of such) might provide me the opportunity to do that.

In terms of "positive online behaviour" (avoiding the usual postmodern guff of "can we say what is positive behaviour?" etc - let's do our best to avoid an existential crisis here people), I'm thinking along the lines of information sharing, collaborative creation and the discouragement of things such as griefing, trolling and the like. I need to do the background reading nice and early, seeing as I have to have a PhD proposal to present to the group by the end of Jan.

Thursday, September 27

27/09/12 - Numero Uno

I started this blog about a squillion years ago, with a view to use it to talk about net/digital identity stuff which I couldn't quite fit into my main blog. In the end, it ended up just being left with 2 draft posts and a lot of open space.

One of the senior staff here at my new PhD department recommended that we keep a record of our experiences and progress over the next four years. Seeing as I've been blogging over at dwp for about 2 years now, I figured that dusting this space off for use would be far more preferable than noting stuff down in a scrap book which will inevitably get lost, burned or pissed on by the cat.

So, draft posts are deleted. Terrible blog-title altered, and off we go.