Out OF The Ivory Tower (linking theories of privacy identity and risk to practice)

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Session Topic: Out of the Ivory Tower

Thursday 2H

Convener: Nora Draper

Notes-taker(s): Tom Brown


Two sociologists

1. Erving Goffman - identity as strategic, many selves depending on audience w/ consistent narrative

2. Anthony Giddens - identity as inherently risky in terms of outcomes (not necessarily consequences)


Identity is complicated by digital landscape. Early days of Internet was like Goffman.

As web became more commercial, companies are asking us to perform with a consistent identity.

Certain speech and behaviors get lost when limited to one identity. For instance, part of liberty is being a banker and talking about anarchism.

Emergence of cities important to freedom as it allowed reinvention.

Consider commercial tools that have given us a space to have some control over the identity choices we have.

Giddens says that identity is not just a series of performances as it is constrained by different attributes.

Online, we are constrained even further. Is your personal cloud your one true identity?

Under certain circumstances, the web is more forgiving of performances than in real life.

Notion of physical person vs. legal person, vs. digital person.

Because digital architecture is invisible, people are not clear about what can be seen.

On whose terms am I performing?

You should be able to see what you've done. With today's web, there are some other people who have a better knowledge of how you are presented than you do. For instance, in aggregated space, if my friends have defaulted on loans, I'm perceived as more of a risk.

The model of identity chosen influences the design that is produced. Which model of identity is more desirable?

Is society enforcing a norming effect?

Practical Obscurity

Online, middle ground is curtailed -> Norton's law: in the end, all data is either deleted or public.

namecoin.info

A trusted system has ability to betray me

No idyllic past. Not looking to go back to optimal moment.