Mieke Gerritzen, head of the Design department at the Sandberg Institute, opened the New Cultural Networks conference organized by Stifo@Sandberg.
She addressed the general idea of networking online where we constantly have to fill in our profiles. The irony is that when I applied for this conference I received a confirmation e-mail which included the request for my postal address. I kindly asked why they wanted to have my postal address and they answered “so that we can send you a printed invitation next year if you would like.” It is interesting that an institution that organizes a conference that addresses the topic of new cultural networks wants to include me in their old postal network. I declined the offer of printed invitations in the future and replied that I will keep myself up-to-date using one of the many new cultural networks such as upcoming.org or the nettime mailinglist.
Gerritzen stated that creating a profile feels like creating a homepage. This idea is based on the somewhat dated idea of the homepage as the place to build your online identity. I think this idea is no longer maintainable because the homepage was a central place that you had control over. You built your own homepage and thus controlled your own identity. Identity online is no longer a central control issue but identity is now distributed. Your identity is built by your distributed presence on social networks, mailinglists, Google, Flickr, Last.fm etcetera. In the age of the API and the mashup you no longer have complete control over your identity.
Creating profiles equals creating a marketing strategy to promote yourself according to Gerritzen. This can be seen in the case of LinkedIn that revolves around this idea of marketing yourself. Gerritzen even states that nowadays we are all part of the creative industries and that we should all be able to make money. That sounds like a overly optimistic statement to kick off this conference.
My New Cultural Networks Conference pictures are located at Flickr.