Big questions

At the CHI 2015 conference, a group of academics, researchers, scholars, and thinkers got together in a windowless conference room in a behemoth of a convention center in Seoul, South Korea to discuss how we should be thinking about the self, the individual, and identity as these aspects of humanity manifest in various contexts. We formed a collective identity around a lack of sunshine, jet lag, and yummy Korean cookies. The results of the day-long discussion and activities were intriguing, thought-provoking, and left us with more questions than answers. This blog is a place where we will continue the conversation that began with a focus on unpacking the notion of “online” and “offline.” We aim to engage and refresh our thinking about this topic while drawing together threads from different fields and ways of thinking.

Some of the overarching questions that arose by the end of the day include (but are not limited to):

1. Individual and collective identities; how are they formed? And who is responsible for contributing to your or your community’s identity when acting in technology-mediated environments that may have far-reaching effects and/or consequences that are not necessarily in line with all interested parties’ wishes/preferences?

2. Legal ramifications of various aspects of community and family identity formation and re-formation; who can delete or save digital traces? How do the archival aspects of technology-mediated interactions affect our thoughts on privacy, the legality of information divulgence, and who owns digital traces?

3. The intertwingled aspects of everyday life; how the self recalibrates in various contexts, and how the accommodations and limitations of different contexts affect not only those interacting in these contexts, but how the contexts are themselves reshaped based on interactions….i.e. the cyclical nature of world making and world shaping, and where the sociotechnical fits.

Many of the folks who were part of the workshop will be posting their thoughts and reflections going forward. In addition, we invite anyone who is interested in looking at behavior across contexts and gaining a deeper focus on self and identity as they are practiced by people — and then imagined and reified by designers and developers — to consider contributing to the conversation by writing a post and/or offering comments.

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