Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Me and my identities

Like most people I've got an impressive and ever more bewildering collection of user names and passwords to all the different web services I use. It's not always possible to be consistent because a user name that works for some sites doesn't work for others and therefore you need to invent a new variant that you will hopefully remember when you next log in a few weeks/months later. Just coming up with yet another vaguely memorable user name can cause many minutes of creative thought.

Furthermore all the social networking tools encourage you to paste a nice photo of yourself and once again you're faced with choices. Do I put the same boring mugshot on all my networks thereby showing a consistent identity or do I go for variation and show the full range of my personality? Some people put up very artistic photos of themselves taken from curious angles thus revealing their creative flair. Others even upload pictures of cartoon characters they identify with. The question is how many identities can you maintain on the net? I suppose you can present different images of yourself in different networks. You have have to keep track of which is which.

Now I've discovered several places that ask me to create an avatar to represent myself, the latest being the new Xbox (yes I finally gave in to the pressure and bought it, enabling me to continue playing NFL and NBA). I've already got a couple of Second Life avatars and now an Xbox one too. The more virtual worlds you join the more avatars you need. Should I present a consistent "look" in virtual reality, resemble my "real" self or send forth a diverse range of virtual selves none of which have much in common with me at all? I tried having two different avatars in SL but found that behind them lay the real me and I couldn't really take on a new personality. Some people manage to have completely separate personalities in RL and SL but it must take a lot of concentrated effort to be consistent.

1 comment:

  1. In the TV program Babylon 5, Delenn is talking about Minbari religion and philosophy. She explains that we, i.e. the rational beings of the universe ARE the universe trying to understand itself. I think of that sometimes when I have an avatar running around. It is, in a sense, something out of Plato. A shadow of myself that is cast into the virtual world. Are we the shadows of God cast into this world? Are we the Avatars of a higher creation trying to explore itself and understand itself? Do we sleep when the higher order computer is shut down or logged off? When we die, does it mean "account deleted?" Account deleted - yet we live on in our creator...
    Random thoughts on a slow day.