[Air-l] Identity and Internet

Mary L. Gray mgray at weber.ucsd.edu
Sun Mar 17 21:14:08 PST 2002

hi all : )

interesting points, john.

you wrote: 
> This [susan looking into lachlan's credentials on the Goldsmith College
website] was a
> very practical example, imho, of not separate existence, but existence
> at all, being challenged because of a lack of documentation online.

** i'd have to say i think susan's search of the Goldsmith College webpages
seems more a case of questioning or challenging legitimacy (and by extension
one's 'right' to a voice in this forum)...although i could see where this
could lead to a revoking of 'existence' in this forum.

and further down you ask:

> Do these
> electronic records [online CVs], incomplete as they are, constitute my
> identity?

** great question...i think these documents do constitute _part_ of our
professional identities...as do published articles, posts to professional
mailing lists, delivered (or cancelled) conference papers, letters of
recommendation, etc. these are all part of the paper trail the performance
of our professional careers leaves behind. but, i'm not sure electronic
records really do anything qualitatively different or special beyond
supplying an added venue for producing/reflecting our professional
identities..which seems again, more about adding legitimacy to our
identities than proving that we exist as professionals.

i'm wondering what conditions lead to these online documents carrying more
or less weight in different contexts? if susan had found that indeed lachlan
was a grad student listed (with high honors) on the Goldsmith College
website, would his posting of a mock personal ad and request from susan for
any 'pics' been less (or more) jarring?

work environments are by no means absent of sexually charged power dynamics
or our sexualities. so, i'm not sure why i expect to see a request for pics
in a dating chat room or on a matchmaker website, but wasn't prepared to see
it on the AIR list. why is that? i'm (sort of) prepared to see/deal with
these dynamics in the classroom or at a departmental meeting, and i suppose
i'm now watching AIR-L figure out how to deal with these dynamics
online--which so far has come across as 'filter it out/ignore it'...a less
than satisfying response to a complicated situation.

Mary L. Gray <mlgray at ucsd.edu>
Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
mail:   PO Box 4004, Louisville, KY 40204

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