Embodiment is fundamental to our ordinary notion of identity. Thus, the online world raises a number of questions about the nature of identity and how it is transformed in an immaterial and intangible environment. Many writers (e.g. Reid, Turkle) claim that identity is very fluid in the virtual world; others (e.g. O'Brien) are more skeptical. Certainly, identity deception is far easier when communicating over a very limited medium. How does this affect the type of society that evolves in this environment? How is some notion of identity maintained in the absence of the body - and how is it different than our day to day experience? What effect do changes in the medium have - how is identity in a text-based world different than in a graphical one, in a synchronous vs. an asynchronous space? How can interface designers influence the way identity is established in an online environment?
Here are some supplementary readings you may find interesting:
1. Please read the required papers.
2. Think about the above questions.
3. Write your response to these questions in the context of the readings and submit the URL of your critique online by Monday evening.