Tag Archives: Identity

How Do You Identify?

Would you agree that most technological inventions are geared towards a certain group, to meet a necessary goal or task? In Chapter 13 of Culture and Technology: A Primer, Slack and Wise discuss the importance of identity and technology in a society as fast paced as ours. Although, Slack and Wise may not agree, they say, “what technologies are made available to a person depends in part on their identity (gender, race, class, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, and so on)” (149). This makes it very difficult for people with less money and less access to come into contact with the technologies that they may need or desire. I agree that technology can have a strong influence in altering a person’s identity through online social networking sites and other forms of online interaction and I also agree with Slack and Wise when they say that technology can be biased towards certain identities in society.

Companies invent new technologies to make profit, so the people that they aim to please are most often people with money, the people with the means to make their company excel. This makes it difficult for other people, such as the unemployed, the homeless, or the disable to gain access to these technologies. This makes it very difficult for the unemployed, for example, to find jobs because they may be unable to access a computer to apply for a job position or to perhaps find a used car to drive themselves to interviews. In order for new technologies to be produced, research and funding must be done. Some technologies may not be developed because no one is willing to fund them because there is no profit to be made. Most often this is because the technology being researched is intended for people who do not have the means to pay large sums of money for the proposed new technology. Slack and Wise offer the example of developing medicine that will cure a disease, but will not make a profit. Although the ethical standpoint would be to make the medicine regardless of what money there is to gain, it is often difficult to find companies to do so. The more specific example of this is the cure for sleeping sickness which is a disease found in Africa. Most of the people suffering from this illness do not have the means to pay for the treatment, so companies stopped making it. This is a harsh example but it shows how technology can be very biased towards identity. The majority of people suffering from sleeping sickness live in poverty and a large part of their identity is defined by this fact, making it difficult for them to gain access to the technologies they need. Identity can be changed through the influence of technology but it also plays a very important role in the development and success of technologies. As much as it shouldn’t be, a person’s identity very much affects their access to new and old technologies.

By: Ruby Flynn

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The Digital Literacy Revolution

Parker Busswood
CNET English 100
Aurelea Mahood
November 27, 2009

THE DIGITAL LITERACY REVOLUTION
EMBRACING SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Bronwyn T. Williams’ article “‘Tomorrow will not be like today’: Literacy and identity in a world of multiliteracies” explores the beneficial effects of social technologies in terms of teaching young people about identity and literacy. Over time, the various forms of writing and communication used in society have changed significantly, particularly with the advent and subsequent exponential growth of the Internet. The rapid expansion of social networks that resulted from this technological explosion has provided today’s youth with new opportunities to portray their identities and build important literacy skills. This evolution in adolescent communication, and the social technologies responsible for this transformation, should be embraced by educational providers in order to foster a learning environment better suited to this generation’s academic needs.

The general consensus among a considerable number of parents and teachers is that adolescents are putting themselves at risk through their online communication by potentially exposing themselves to negative influences. Many of these people also believe that the Internet provides little educational value to children, and they are concerned about young people lacking social skills from using online sites in lieu of face-to-face communication. As Williams points out, the interactivity involved in online reading and writing demonstrates “how misplaced the concern is that young people sitting at their computers for hours on end are always socially isolated.” Oftentimes, adolescents are employing multiple technologies in order to socialize and in many cases educate themselves online.

Notwithstanding these parental concerns, the implementation of social networking and online communication into the daily routines of today’s young people has contributed to their proficiency with vital topics relating to their educational writings, such as audience and context. The widespread availability of information spanning an infinite range of subject matter allows adolescents to read more than preceding generations, albeit in digital form. Young people are increasingly turning to online media to build their knowledge, necessitating discussions between educators and their students regarding the “rhetorical and literary practices they have learned from reading and writing in diverse online settings,” as Williams suggests. The complex decisions that adolescents make regarding identity while they communicate online contribute to their acquisition of fundamental literacy skills, and teachers should recognize this in order to make their instruction more effective.

The literary proficiency young people develop as they utilize social technologies online can have tremendous educational applications, and this trend should be noted by educational providers in order to refine teaching styles to meet the changing needs of today’s students. Just as the arrival of the printing press brought with it new means by which writers could communicate and develop their literary aptitude, computers and the Internet offer opportunities for students to learn in innovative ways. As the usage of social technologies expands, so too does the need for embracing these online tools in the education system. Adapting instructional methods to adolescents in their acquisition of essential literacy skills will “help them understand the potential for connection and how … it reveals our hope in our common humanity.”

Word count: 498

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Digital Reincarnation

Parker Busswood
CNET English 100
Aurelea Mahood
October 9, 2009

DIGITAL REINCARNATION

In her article “Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self,” Sherry Turkle makes reference to the widespread use of online social games as a tool for rethinking and experimenting with one’s identity. Users of such games are oftentimes adults who utilize these sites to gain a “feeling of everyday renewal” and escape for a few moments from their real lives. However, online games such as Second Life can also serve as a powerful means by which adolescents can shape their identities and self-images. Over the last decade, online role-playing games have evolved from simple forms of entertainment into influential devices for both adults and adolescents to experiment with and develop their personal identities.

Many believe that those who frequently delve into cyberspace through their avatars are lacking important social skills, negatively impacting their ability to fraternize with people they meet in the real world. The instant gratification and ability to experiment with one’s sense of self that Second Life and similar worlds offer is argued by some to be causing a dependence on these virtual worlds for social contact, potentially leading users to experience discomfiture in real-life social situations. Another characteristic of simulation games such as Second Life is that despite their efforts to faithfully recreate the real world, they experience, to some extent, a lack of verisimilitude in regards to their idealistic depiction of real life. This may not be an issue, however, to players who are eager to escape to an alternate and somewhat utopian vision of their lives and of the world in general.

In spite of these opinions, there is significant evidence to suggest that these digital 3D environments can benefit their users by allowing them to play out various scenarios and work out issues in their real lives, “often related to sexuality or intimacy.” People can utilize their virtual personae in an attempt to resolve certain dilemmas as they encounter them in life. This transference of aspects of people’s lives between the real and virtual worlds allows them to work through a myriad of challenges without experiencing real consequences as a result of their experimentation. The significance of these virtual worlds and their employment as self-help devices is alluded to by Turkle, who states that in these online settings, “the crippled can walk without crutches and the shy can improve their chances as seducers.”

The emergence of sophisticated online role-playing games whose purposes transcend entertainment has enabled users to resolve personal issues and develop their identities through the creation of online personae. Players are able to conceptualize an improved virtual life, providing them with the freedom to evaluate and experiment with various aspects of their lives in order to connect with themselves. These users are able to step back and view their lives from a different perspective and make changes to their online characters that can manifest themselves in the real world. This experimentation with personal identity in virtual realms effectively serves as a digital reincarnation that can have tremendous benefits on those who experience it.

Word count: 498

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Position Paper ~ Raj, Bohemian

By Nick Fulton

This was an outstanding piece of literature. I felt a vibe and mania while reading this story. The setup of modern New York, the way they went about showing their roles in this world and how technology helped shape it. I saw this writing as stating the way in which we can lose ourselves and identities due to the technology each of us carry in our hands. One picture could literally steal your identity for others use. The character development and effort they put into creating a world around this idea was what caught my attention. I saw them as similar to the club kid generation in New York, the alternative “It” people who shape the world around them. My interest in that time period and even earlier with Andy Warhol just showed my bias with this piece. I liked the concept of the sincere party. It was interesting to reflect back at the story,” everyone comes dressed sincerely” didn’t mean to some that they needed to be sincere just be dressed accordingly.

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Glossary Entry: Identity

To have an identity is to have the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality. Also, an identity affects how a person is placed in culture. But since the introduction of technologies in which an identity can be altered, the term to have an “identity” is now loosely defined. Especially with online identities, people now have the opportunity to “be” someone else and can often develop a whole other lives for themselves.
As described in Slack and Wise’ book, creating identities is often used in gaming practices. A man can play a male or a female, or he does not even have to be human. And same goes for a woman. This choice can be used to the player’s advantage, especially for the male players because “being” a female would often be beneficial after manipulating a fellow male player.

To have a different identity online, people are now able to have the characteristics that they lack in reality. But can easily become addicted to their alter-ego and became more unsatisfied with their real self and often result in cases of depression or isolation.

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You + Technology = ?

A CultureNet Contest

Last night you emailed a new playlist to friends after listening to a podcast by your favourite band. This morning you updated your blog with photos from that road trip to Seattle last weekend. And – yeah – it’s already time for a new cell because it sure feels like you’re only person you know who can’t upload MP3 files to their phone.

What impact does technology have on your life? How is your identity – how you see yourself and how others see you – shaped by the technology you use?

Tell us in words, images, blogs, websites, podcasts or any other format of your choice.

Prize: $250.00
Deadline: 15 June 2007.
Winners announced: 30 June 2007.

How to Enter

Option 1: submit your entry online at CultureNet.

Option 2: send an email with an attachment to culturenet@capcollege.bc.ca with the following information: first and last name, telephone number, and full mailing address.

Option 3: mail your entry to: CultureNet Contest, Humanities Division, Capilano College, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver BC V7J 3H5.

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