Internet Self

Posted on September 21, 2008


I’m recently obsessed with human identity, perception and self-expression. In Stacie’s course ‘ Information and interaction’, I proposed to do a 6 weeks project naming “Digital Self”. The goal is quite simple: Explore the difference between your real self in the society and your digital self on the Internet.  The method is even simpler: by analyzing people’s daily browsing activities. I plan to build this piece by Processing(as usual), the final delivery will be an “artistic” interactive piece – I’m suffering with CMU’s rigorous design research, usibility tesing and seminar reading education, it’s time to have some fun.

So what’s a Digital Self and why start from a web browsing history analysis?

People may scared if they realized that their browser knows themselves more than they do. The browser traced down every single activity you do on the Internet, that somehow reflects you as a whole slightly different than you are in the real world.

For example, here are some variables that may reflects your “Internet” personality.

Your most frequent visiting sites.

– If I ask you to list some favorite sites, the answer you give me might be different than the answer given by your browser. You may not realize why you actually spend 30 hours on Facebook monthly, that conflicts with your goal – study harder.

How long do you stay at a site

– Spending 10 hours shopping on Amazon and 10 seconds to check things on Amazon reflects different personalities. If we did a long-term research, you may find you are easily obsessed with one thing, or you may like to change your focus frequently. That’s a very interesting Internet personality.

Your browsing time

– This directly reflects your schedule, how busy you are.

Sites category you visited over time

– When you are relax and happy, you will visit a lot of sites you like, otherwise, if you are hitting a deadline, you will only visit sites related to your work. However the sites people visit reflects how they release their pressure, such as watching a cartoon after a long time work.

Your search result

– Reflects your curiosity

What do you tag or bookmark a page

– This may reflect your Internet self in a social context.

What much do you comment or upload things on Internet(In versus Out)?

– If you only get, never give, does that mean you have a selfish personality on the Internet?

It will be interesitng to build a framework for Internet Self Study, but I think that’s phychologists’ job.

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