Das Maverick

Professor Gardner Campbell a self-proclaimed maverick calls  our attention to a pressing matter. The Internet. For  most of us, we use the Internet to passively check-in on friends’ statuses and the LOL cats.  However, Campbell uses it as a tool of innovation, and he  asks for us to ‘create and connect our own personal cyber infrastructures” too. The Internet is our tool to begin to engage and learn with new communities of people and ideas. He demands of us that we use the Internet to innovate, create, and communicate. It sounds awesome. However, I question, what does it mean to create our own Internet identities?

By creating our own corner in the information super-highway, we are also given the opportunity to create who we are. Eula Biss, author of Nobody Knows Your Name and other awesome essays, challenges our notion of identity claiming “you must define [it] so that it does not define you.”

From this perspective,  can we also change our identity?  If we are tired of that odd caricature of ourselves that dances in front of us, then we can recreate ourselves!  We can be our own defined selves thru the Internet. Oh the possibilities.

At some level, we all do this all the time when we engage with the Internet. For example, do you always use your real birthday on the innocuous website or survey? Is your username actually your legal name? Is my name really MC? …NNahh dawg (Bonus Round: would I say this in real life?)

This freedom is empowering, invigorating and scary. Yet, do we risk losing something? Do we threaten authentic connection and communication with others that Campbell idealizes so much? Or do we begin a more real experience?



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4 Responses to “Das Maverick”

  1. Linda says:

    Hmm… to answer your qestion, I’m not sure how I would feel about it. As far as openly fictional accounts, as described in this week’s reading, I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as all parties know what’s real and what isn’t…

    Alter egos? Well, that’s different than getting away from being genuine. I think one can still be genuine while having fun playing different characters.

    Yes, that’s really an interesting question, Rachel… very thought-provoking. I’ll have to ponder it some more. 🙂

  2. Miss MC says:

    You bring up some interesting points. I agree that acting as ‘our best selves’ would be exhausting and dull after a while. However, I think blogging gives people permission to explore other sides of their identity and enabled them to create an idealized notion of themselves or maybe a completely fictitious character! For example, there are historical folks with their own facebook page. Imagine, somewhere, someone is acting as General Stonewall Jackson while merging that character with their own identity.

    Now, my question to you Linda is would you feel violated if one of our ds106 pioneers was not real and really you were engaging with one of Jim Groom’s alter egos, or would you just be excited to be a part of his creative project?

    And Michael, if you are ever worried that you are trapped in Trumanville, then I recommend traveling.

  3. Linda says:

    Great post, Miss Guirk!

    For me, I like the online community because I can be much more genuine without pretending. We communicate with our thought-out words and our creativity, and we can bypass the complicated masks that we tend to put on when we are face-to-face. And we listen to, challenge, and encourage each other, which can be very empowering.

    One thing that Gardner Campbell said during his talk was that we should try to always show our best selves. I disagree. I think we should always try to be genuine and honest while being sensible about how much we reveal. I find it very encouraging when someone has the courage to share when they are not at their best as well we when they are. I think by being genuine, we define our unique identities.

    …and to copy what Michael said… “I hope this wasn’t too irrelevant” too. 🙂

    You have great thoughts! Keep writing!

  4. I think that it is important that we do define ourselves. Not everyone is consistently with us and can define us with us by our actions. The question I wonder is how we know the difference between how we are viewed, and how we wanted to be viewed? Sometimes I wonder if I’m on the Truman Show. Hope this wasn’t too irrelevant.