Algebraic Specification (Acm Press Frontier Series) by J. A. Bergstra, J. Heering, P. Klint

By J. A. Bergstra, J. Heering, P. Klint

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Like the dismissal of academic classification, the casual suppression of the principle of provenance in the online world does not actually push it to the margins but encourages it to mutate into a more virulent form. Thus, rather than exposing us to a greater plurality of information, all too often those with the greatest reputation online are interchangeable with popular figures offline. In the London Independent newspaper’s 100 most influential ‘Twitters’ in 2012, included in the top ten were a footballer, a celebrity chef, a DJ and a famous illusionist, as well as four comedians/actors (Burrell 2012).

Impersonation (potential or real) and anonymity are not inherently trustworthy characteristics. So, in order to create a credible persona, a person must not only be not anonymous, but also must convince others that he/she is not impersonating someone else. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by placing oneself within a network of relationships. This is easy to do offline, but not so easy online. That is why social media is so important to the construction of this type of online identity, in that it facilitates these links.

This may involve the construction of From the Private to the Public: Online Identity 37 many different identities (Palfrey and Gasser 2008: 22) or, more likely, a multiplicity of different elements making up the one, unitary identity. In this sense, this sounds similar to late-modernist identity. Unlike late-modernist conceptions of identity, however, it is difficult to keep your different ‘faces’ separate and so the unitary aspect of one’s identity (the need to have a coherent, over-arching narrative which spans both our online and offline existence) is the most significant factor.

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