What happens when the self is digitized? This just in.

Some time ago, I was trying to think about the structural effects of the digital age.  

What happens to our sense of self, I wondered, now that we have access to new media and new networks?

I came to the conclusion that selves were becoming “cloudy.”

The world rewarded me with a stoney silence.  

No one, apparently, was prepared to buy the idea.

Fair enough.  You win some, you lose some.  I bow to the world’s judgment.  

But today I came upon J. Andrew Hickey’s post entitled The Information Generation.  

I was immediately taken by this remark:   

Then again, maybe I am too “connected”. Half of my daydreaming is spent in my head, the other half online. To an outsider – typically someone over forty – it must look strange. Blue links highlighted. Flashing windows. Twenty tabs open. Music playing. Headphones on. Lukewarm coffee on desk. Occasionally, I feel less like a person, and more like an amoeba that feeds on tweets, notifications, and followers.

Fair enough.  Not a “cloud” then, but an “amoeba.”  What matters is some way to capture the new distributedness, porousness and malleableness of the self.  

For more of Hickey’s very thoughtful contemplation of what it’s like to live in a digital age, CLICK HERE.

The magnificent image is called Radio Silence.  It’s made by Tatiana Plakhova.

For my thoughts on the “cloudy self,” CLICK HERE.  

9 thoughts on “What happens when the self is digitized? This just in.

  1. steve weiss

    Multiple selves. Selfs will morph into environments, cultures, networks, needs and
    spaces. Digital selfs will have no sense of place. They will be loaded and reloaded
    aimed at digital places. The content and situation will complete the self.
    Creating digital selves is cheap.

  2. Tac Anderson

    I know the feeling well. I often describe this change to people as “becoming fuzzy.”

    The edges of our identity and the perception of ourselves is extending digitally. I imagine it like a cotton seed. The core part of our “self” is still in tact but we’ve grown these tendrils that allow us to extend beyond ourselves, to float along the winds of the internet. To take flight.

  3. Faris

    Ello dude!

    i feel we are at least somewhat in sync as always my friend.

    i started out thinking maybe identity was distributed:


    more recently i riffed on this a bit at my TEDx talk and said maybe it was networked


    as in maybe we are now the sum of all our connections, not a node among them.

    have you ever read Accelerando by Charles Strauss? have a look. there’s an idea in there about agents, where your consciousness splits off into numerous software versions of itself to run across the web doing certain tasks before returning and re-integrating..

    1. Grant Post author

      Faris, I love that typepad essay, we should do a little conference for this idea somewhere. Another resolution for the new year. Thanks also for the Strauss ref!

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