The widgetized self and the modding user in the blogosphere

Last week I gave a talk on ‘The Widgetized Self. Distributed identity and the role of software-engine relations in blogging.’ Blogs may be seen as databases that allow for various types of identity construction. The use of themes, plugins and widgets play an important role in the blogging identity.

Edial Dekker, New Media student at the University of Amsterdam, wrote about my lecture for the Dutch communication blog Spotlighteffect. His blogpost (in Dutch) has the provoking title: “The role of widgets. Nerds are more personal” which refers to the fact that expressing your identity through technology such as blog software still requires knowledge of the code. If you want to change the defaults you need to be able to install plugins or manually adjust php or CSS. In blogging we can distinguish several types of identity formation that coexist together and contribute to each other:

  • the default identity (with default themes and templates)
  • the drag and drop identity (choosing your plugins and widgets)
  • the distributed identity (using the blog as a centralized force to collect your distributed self)
  • the database identity (those who actually use their blog as a database of the self)

The blog is a database that supplies different ways for identity construction. On top of that other databases are used to further mold and shape the identity of the blogger. The modding user is constantly tweaking and adjusting the blog, either at the front side or the back side, in order to construct a self online.

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