distributed self

November 5, 2007

One of the phenomena in web 2.0 is keeping distributed self.

We all invade various spaces: weblogs, twitter, jaiku, flickr, youtube, social bookmarking spaces etc.
What these distributed spaces enable us to do, is to keep our personality in multiple places at the same time and variate our presence in different modalities.

The result of keeping distributed self increases likelihood that my external knowlege, my artifacts, my meanings, my activity patterns will be noticed, modified and duplicated.

Keeping distributed self keeps us in touch with different communities.

Being simultaneously in different communities enables us to bring information across the borders of the communities, initating semiosis, enabling us to constantly create new knowledge.

The maintenance of distributed self has also become external – we tend to feed together our distributed spaces into aggregators or weblogs in order to feel as a whole and observe our external presence. In these places (hubs) where our distributed knowledge meets again, we propagate ourselves as the connectors between the communities.

Can we create in these spaces as well? If we mix our distributed self with the knowledge of our community members (like in microblogging feeds of Jaiku or Twitter), these mashed feeds may work as triggers for writing new blog entries. They enable us to access knowledge community-wise and transfer it to our other community spaces.

The social media starfish is a good representation of our distributed self. Another idea of digital and distributed self is here.

There is also an article by Stanton Wortham about distributed self – The Heterogeneously Distributed Self (2007)
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 1999, pages 153-172.
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/107205399266163

Article explains that heterogeneous distribution can be applied to the self.
The self is heterogeneously distributed because a coherent self emerges from the interconnection of structures of diverse sorts, which together facilitate the experience and manifestation of a coherent identity.

Performative account of self: self emerges when person repeatedly adopts characteristic positions, with respect of others and within recognizable cultural patterns, in everyday social action (Butler, 1990).

The author suggests locating self in several different types of structures, including performative, psychological and other patterns.

For example the author writes how there will be interaction between our past and present self in autobiographical narratives.

This makes me think, if we reflect in weblog – do we also talk with our past and present self in order to create some coherence?


  1. wonderful insight. i’ve been interested in this concept for a while and would appreciate any links you may have to sites on the subject.

  2. Hi Kai,
    thanks for linking. I see we share Sebastian Fiedler and Ralf Klamma as mutual acquintances/friends. Nice to ‘meet’ you.

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