= Daniel Chandler, Real Life (RL) identity

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Daniel Chandler, a British semiotician, was born in 1952. He teaches in Media and Communication Studies at the department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University. Chandler started his career as an English School teacher in 70s. In late 80’s, he worked as consultant before joining the university in 1989.
He is a progressive constructivist. He sees computer technologies as learning tools, not as medium to increase productivity, not as a teaching machine. He does agree with the concept that computer transform data into information and information into knowledge. He believes human beings negotiate the meaning of information by means of dialog and discussion.
He attracted international attention when he made his materials available over the Internet for his student in mid 90s. His website recognized as a premier online academic resource for Rhetoric,
Communication Studies, Semiotics, Media, and Contemporary Philosophy.
His renowned publication Semiotics: The Basics (Routledge: 2002, 2007), is used as an introductory level university course in semiotics. The book has online version which is known as 'Semiotics for Beginners'.

Introduction

Computer mediated communication (CMC) has created “new space for interpersonal communication in which participants can interact free from the influence of external forms of power. People are having experience to create or to discover or to express themselves into a different identity. Stuart Hall similarly notes “there has been a veritable explosion in recent years around the concept of “identity”” (Stuart Hall ‘Who needs “identity”?) Identity and its (trans)formation has proven a field of considerable interest. In the following section, we will explore Daniel Chandler’s analytical paper Personal Home Pages and the Construction of Identities on the Web“.
= Construction of Identities on the Web

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What is a personal home page?

Home page is the new way to answer the question “Who AM I” in CMC era. When a person published his pages online, is being recorded automatically in public domain. The key difference between Speech and Writing is one is volatile and another one is recorded. Web pages are not only recorded, it also become public. According to Joshua Meyrowitz (1985), the adoption of new media seems to involve a shifting or blurring of the boundaries of public and private.

Professionalism and Privacy

Let say, a university professor may put his professional interest and personal internet in his home page which is stored on university server. Thomas Erickson notes that ‘personal home pages and the World-Wide Web are not being used to "publish information"; they are being used to construct identity - useful information is just a side effect’.
John Seabrook comments that ‘a home in the real world is, among other things, a way of keeping the world out... An on-line home, on the other hand, is a little hole you drill in the wall of your real home to let the world in’ (Seabrook 1995 1997).

Asynchronous mass communication

Homepage: Construction of New Identity

Construction of website involves the construction of identity. According to Goffman (1969), the Web is a medium with some marked differences from other modes for the ‘presentation of self in everyday life’. It is ‘one of the first venues where individuals can construct portrayals of themselves using information rather than consumer goods as their palette’ (Erickson 1996).

Real Time Communication

Web pages are similar to printed text where audience can access the author in ‘real time’(RL). In synchronous modes of communication e.g.; telephone, chatrooms, involves RL interaction. Somehow audience consider website as face-to-face (RL) interaction which is actually virtual representation of the author. Chandler argued, “‘Virtual selves’ have existed ever since people have been publishing their writing. Comparisons of home pages with face-to-face interaction are misleading.” In RL communication, according to Professor Albert Mehrabian's communication take place using following medium.
· 7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.
· 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
· 55% of meaning is in facial expression.
Whereas, Home pages cannot offer non verbal clues e.g. facial expressions, vocal cues, posture, gestures and non-verbal mannerisms. Also unlike interpersonal communication, the potential use of website can be used as a self-advertisement in addition to self-publishing.
Chandler differentiates personal home pages from tradition text base interaction in following way:
Firstly, unlike printed media, web pages may have multi-media content which may help to express someone in a better way.
Secondly, web pages are more dynamic than print, can be changed anytime whereas in text medium author has wait for next edition to publish.
Thirdly, text medium are linear, whereas using hypertext, web pages can create non-linerar complex communication
Last but not least, web pages can represent author frequently as author can change the colour, layout, content whenever s/he want to obscuring their own evolution.

Bricolage

Lévi-Strauss (1974) use the work “bricolage” to express adopting and adapting borrowed material from the public domain of the Web. People copy graphics, sound, text from other people web site while constructing their web sites. Lévi-Strauss argued Bricolage involves more than simply the appropriation of materials: it also involves the construction of the bricoleur’s identity. Graphics, layout, color, content, the overall website represents the uniqueness of the producer. Copying something may create confusion or identity conflict.
Chandler argues that the bricoleur’s strategies are constrained not only by pragmatic considerations such as suitability-to-purpose and readiness-to-hand but by the experience and competence of the individual in selecting and using ‘appropriate’ materials. ..The habitual use of certain signifying practices is indeed a mark of membership of particular sub-cultural groups. He provided following “The Bricoleur’s Web Kit” :
· Types of activity
o Inclusion. What different ideas and topics are included?
o Allusion. What ideas and topics are being referred to?
o Omission. What’s left unsaid or is noticeable by its absence?
o Adaptation. How are materials and ideas added to or altered?
o Arrangement. How is everything organized on the page?
· Types of content
o personal statistics and biographical details;
o interests, likes and dislikes;
o ideas, values, beliefs and causes;
o friends, acquaintances and personal icons (e.g. celebrities).
· Types of structure
o written text;
o graphics – whether still or moving – and other artwork;
o sound and/or video (e.g. associated webcams);
o short screenfuls to long scrolls of text;
o single page or many interconnected pages;
o separate windows or frames;
o an access counter (i.e. number of people who’ve visited);
o a guestbook;
o links for other pages (e.g. a ‘cool links’ section);
o an email button or chat button.

The building blocks of webpage identity

According to Chandler’s list, people provide personal statistics, biographical details, interests, ideas, values, beliefs and causes; and friends, acquaintances and personal ‘icons’ on their web site. Based on this information provided by author and their perception about the information, audiences create a virtual identity about the author. Sherry Turkle mentions that in a home page, ‘One’s identity emerges from whom one knows, one’s associations and connections’ (Turkle 1996a, 258).
Also the formal content and the form of web pages, express their personality type which may lead misinterpretation sometimes. In an on-line interview with Chandler (19/9/96), Iain, a British home page author, wrote: ‘The way I code my page is very reflective of the way I work and live— sort of ordered and trying to keep structure to it. Some pages I have seen obviously reflect arty-type personalities. I look at mine and think yep, this says science-type person.’
Although the process of composition is not visible to the reader, it expresses the kind of person the author is. On research shows, Angela (30) noted her acute awareness of issues of impact: ‘I made an outline of what I wanted to convey on the site and the possible content… Then I thought about the connotations associated with each piece… I was meticulous. I’m an accountant, you know’ (Schau & Gilly 2003, p. 395).
Spelling, punctuation and grammatical idiosyncrasies also signify the author. Some author ignore the language capability and put too much emphasis on visual representation.

Constructing identities

Judith Donath, at the MIT Media Lab, classified several types of identity sign found in the Usenet. She believes the same signal can be used or evaluated almost similar way in many types of virtual communities where language is the primary means of communication.
Like writing on paper, constructing a personal home page involves shaping materials as well as author’s thoughts and emotions. Sometime publishing on-line content means justify own thoughts for self-justification.
The word “Privacy” has new meaning in CMC era. It buries the distinction between “Letter” and “Diary”. Some authors extraordinarily express themselves quite frankly which may not well received in face-to-face interaction with strangers (authors don’t know all the visitor of their websites).
Researchers are really concerned about the identity deception in online community. Donath suggested, “ for most participants, identity - both the establishment of their own reputation and the recognition of others - plays a vital role". According to Chandler, different media and modes of communication facilitate and inhibit different patterns of behaviour. We do not present ourselves in any kind of writing in the same way as we do in face-to-face interaction.
Some authors provide picture, emails to authenticate themselves. Then question come how reader can validate their picture and email. For some demographics, hiding their personal identity provide new opportunity to express their talent. Some people feel better able to articulate their thoughts, feelings and personalities in writing than in face-to-face interaction (Chandler 1995, 46). David, a gay Briton, told Chandler that ‘I can articulate on paper, while in a bar I am often shy or nervous,’ adding: ‘Home Pages mean that people can find personal and intellectual connections, not just physical attraction’.
Web page is seems like socializing to some author. James, a gay British Internet user, told me in an on-line interview that having a home page meant that he was out in cyberspace long before being out in daily life, and found it useful to say to people, ‘Oh, didn’t you know?’, feeling able to treat the issue as old news.
For some authors web pages are “a second life” to them. It helped them to reveal themselves who they are, which may not possible in real life or in face-to-face communication.

Impact

Digital Divide
Relationship with other communication theory
Creating online education materials
Instructional design

Critique

Limited methodology: Interview based
Limited data:
Limited participant group
Cultural context
Relationship with other Identity theory

References
Daniel Chandler; biography from Wikipedia; Retrieved November 18, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Chandler
Chandler, D.; Personal Home Pages and the Construction of Identities on the Web; Retrieved from http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/short/webident.html on 25/11/2010
Lu, K. Y.; Visual identity and virtual community; Retrieved from http://www.atopia.tk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=58[2 on 25/11/2010
Leaning, M.; The Influences of Technology: Understanding how technology contributes to who we are online; Visions of the Human in Science Fiction and Cyberpunk; Inter-Disciplinary Press 2010; pp: 19-33
Smith, A. P.; Developing the Digital Digital Identity Creation in Cyberspace; April 26, 2009; Retrieve from http://aaronpsmith.com/pdf/developing_the_digital.pdf on 25/11/2010

Professor Albert Mehrabian's communications model; Retrieve from http://www.businessballs.com/mehrabiancommunications.htm on 16/11/2010