Sitting in a seminar today, my mind started wandering about and I started to think about identity 2.0. As of lately, quite a few people have written about it or presented about it, but there’s still not as much research going on as I’d expect, or maybe I just haven’t happened upon it.
To a large degree, Identity 2.0 works similar to Identity 1.0. (No kidding, huh?) There are some major factors influencing how we identify ourselves in relation to the world around us. Some of those factors have gained, other have lost impact. A whole new aspect – I just labeled it the Extended Self – is brand new and so-to-speak value added…
Anyway, here’s a first quick sketch of what I think constitutes Identity 2.0.
Remember, this is a quick (and first) draft. So please bear with me and stay constructive …
|Identity 1.0||Identity 2.0|
|Nationality / Jurisdiction
(note: By making the boxes above different sizes, I’ve tried to show how much I think they impact. Maybe an HTML-table isn’t exactly the right tool for that kind of graphic…)
- much more complex, wider
- more in flux more flexible
- to a large degree self-constructed
- fragmented, yet integrated. Not necessarily always coherent.
- Towards the periphery, complexity and density decline. Blurry borders.
Replaces religion and family insofar as they used to allow or prohibit access in any way (because of belief, money etc.)
- new category which virtually didn’t exist before
- mix of social network, self-constructed and self-communicated identity, memberships, activities, participation in collaborative projects, access to knowledge networks etc (compare Luhmann’s idea of external memory etc)
- Extended self and social groups can’t be clearly distinguished, the border is blurry; both overlap. Depending on involvement, face-to-face time and level of access to each other’s offline identity among others
- To get a basic idea of what kind of stuff constitutes the extended self, check out Dick Hardt’s great OSCON 2005 Presentation 2.0 where he gives a good overview of what identity 2.0 emcompasses.
Nationality / Jurisdiction
- Nationality is losing its imporance except for the legal framework it provides. The classic constructivist view used to be: “Nationalism is the cultural framework of modernity; it is the main cultural mechanism of social integration and therefore, construction”. (Greenfeld 1999) –> Nationality hardly adds to a feeling of identity anymore. Instead, it’s the jurisdiction that counts. In other words: Where your body is, you can get sued.
- Nationality is also a fairly recent concept and not one that is essential. Compare Liah Greenfeld: “For millenia, humanity was able to do without [nation], and this represents a good reason for presuming that it an be avoided again.” (Greenfeld, “Is Nation unavoidable? Is Nation Unavoidable Today?” 1999
- Note that the focus here is clearly a legal one. Even more so, as national borders may not even be legal borders: Take for example the European Union. Any European resident won’t only be affected by their country’s law, but by the EU’s law as well.
- In a heavily mediated and interconnected society where social contacts are maintained online to a large degree, geography and physicality plays a smaller role than time zones. To interact with your peers, it is relevant to be online at the same time as they are, no matter where they are or where you are. In other words: It is more important when you are online than where you are online. (Cory Doctorow develops this idea in-depth in his novel Eastern Standard Tribe.)
Update: Gender is, of course, another essential determining factor of our identities online. There’s plenty of material out there, too. Recommendations? Also, I’m not sure which way this factor developed from 1.0 to 2.0. It certainly got a bit more blurry and flexible. Also, I’d assume the gender impact decreased quite a bit, but I’m not absolutely sure about it. Ideas?
Feedback? Drop me a line: peter.bihr at gmail.com