Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Mediated Me
Two recent Web readings match up quite nicely. Joi Ito comments on how different Anil Dash is in person than he is in his blog, remarking that "his ability to manage his online personality was his key to success."

Elsewhere, William Gibson considers the difference between mediated personas and the public self. "While a ruler would have a public (as well as a private) self, this technological 'broadcasting' of the individual constitutes something else, something fundamentally different," Gibson says.

These posts raise some interesting questions. Sure, Sherry Turkle and Brenda Laurel have written about the performative aspects of computer-mediated communication. But what about blogs and LiveJournals?

Here, in Media Diet, am I sharing a public self? Or am I portraying an idealized self? The me I want to be -- or the me I want you to think I am? I don't know. To be true, the Media Diet me is a mediated me. I consider what to say and how to say it -- which is no different than in real life. And I can probably make myself out to be more than I really am, although I like to think I rarely do that. But it's easier to say less or more when an audience is largely anonymous. Just like when I published perzines.

I've also been thinking about this in terms of email communications with friends. Sometimes there are things that are easier to write -- and hit Send -- than they are to say in person. You can be more honest. You can be almost irresponsible. But yet, what's been said is out there, and we're left with the repercussions, as tenuous as they may be.

Were I to ask Media Dieticians a question, it wouldn't be whether our Web writing represents a mediated persona (which I believe it does), but what such self-representation means -- for us as well as for the other.


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