I’m proud to announce that the entry I wrote on Identity and Agency for the International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (John Wiley & Sons, 2015) with my co-author Ben Hammersley was published this week.

I know, a real paper encyclopedia – in this day and age!

In this entry, we raise our heads above the parapet in the battle over the distinction (and collision) between online identity as psychological construct and digital identity as computational construct. Here’s a blurb:

Identity is a complex concept, and the way it is defined has important implications across personal, political, legal, and other contexts. It is variously used to consider the way in which one is recognized as an entity (philosophy), how one conceptualizes and expresses the self either individually or collectively (psychology and the social sciences), the sum ownership of the tangible and intangible assets of the self (whether creative, physical, biological, digital, or otherwise; law), a stable and unchanging element (mathematics), and the sum of self-referential claims or claims about others made by a digital subject (computer science).

We argue that online identity, while appearing limitless in its possibilities, is actually constrained by several implicit factors baked into the technology and our psychologies. Here’s more:

While an arena for great experimentation, self expression, and role playing, online identities are not limitless in their expressive abilities. Unlike the self-signals shared between strangers on the street, each identity marker on the web is proactively constructed using the tools available, and online identity is not without systems and structures that constrain the individual, both socially and technologically.

If you’d like to know more, you can grab a copy of the pdf of this entry, but I also encourage you to have a look at the whole three volume shebang either in dead tree format, or online.

Here’s why:

This work offers critical assessments of theoretical and applied research on digitally-mediated communication, a central area of study in the 21st century.
Compelling, no?

Many congratulations to the editors.