Digital Identities: Digital Artifact & Contextual Essay

For my DIGC335 digital artefact, I chose to explore digital identities. My artifact, a ten-minute podcast, discusses a series of key questions related to the topic area, narrated by me. I feel that I’ve been able to create an artefact that satisfactorily fulfilled my aims in regard to both research and presentation for an audience.

My podcast can be accessed below:

My research began as an exploration of personal behaviour and ethics in digital spaces. I was interested in how our behaviours and choices online impacted ourselves and others, and felt that a how-to type guide to navigating digital spaces ethically would be useful to a number of audiences. Whilst I came across some relevant and encouraging research (namely by Ess (2013) in Digital Media Ethics), I had difficulty refining the scope of this broad topic area into something that was both manageable and appropriate. I felt uncomfortable about choosing and applying an ethical theory without a background in philosophy, let alone advising audiences on this. Upon reflection, despite the frustrations of the process, culling down the scope and topic areas was a critical step, as it allowed me to research with a level of depth that would not have been previously possible.

The aims of my research into digital identities changed and developed as my research progressed. For example, I wanted to know the basics of identity formation, and by researching this, I became curious about the concept of authenticity. As I began to explore authenticity and digital identities, and I wanted to know more about digital identities and performance – and so on and so forth. With limited previous understanding of identity formation, this exploratory process was essential before setting defined parameters.

Eventually I formed some central research questions. These were/are:

  1. What is identity? (definitions of identity, brief history of identity)
  2. Is online identity formation different from offline?
  3. How do we understand digital identities? (tropes/popular discourses)
  4. How do different platforms regulate our experience/understanding of identity?

Formative research resources included New York Times review of Appiah’s ‘The Ethics of Identity (the actual text was difficult to access for free), Future Identities, a UK Government commissioned report (2010) which included 20 independent papers, Davis’ (2010), blog article Identity work and the authentic cyborg self, Dino’s (2017) Modules on Butler: On Performativity, Krotoski’s (2010) Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? and a number of case studies (Dollar, 2017; Harnish, 2017; Baxendale, 2017).

In my prezi and the final product of my artifact, a 10-minute podcast episode, I felt that I was able to answer, or explore possible answers for, the central questions I had outlined. By answering each of these questions, I was able to arrive at a thesis or central idea: that being online does not change identity formation fundamentally, but rather, brings an awareness to that multiple, fluid and contextual nature of identities. The production of the podcast was a learning experience for me, and I realized just how hard it is to get the tone right. Speaking about academic ideas, in a conversational way, is certainly a tricky thing, and perhaps something that could be improved with further practice.

Overall, I’ve found the research process interesting, enjoyable, and applicable to my own life (and I hope the lives of others). I feel that I’ve been able to create an artifact that summarizes a broad and complex area, which was probably the biggest challenge. With audiences in mind, I think the podcast could have been made to be more engaging than what I’ve presented – I’ll know for next time!

Reference List:

Davis, J. (2010). Identity Work and the Authentic Cyborg Self. [Blog] Cyberology. Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2017].

Dolla, C. (2017). My So-Called (Instagram) Life. The New York Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2017].

Ess, C. (2013). Digital Media Ethics. 1st ed. Polity Press, pp.27-35.

Felluga, D. (2017). Introduction to Judith Butler, Module on Performativity. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Freedman, J. (2005). ‘The Ethics of Identity’: A Rooted Cosmopolitan. The New York Times. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2017].

Harnish, A. (2017). Me Vs. My Social Media Self: Why Gen Z Is The Saddest Generation. [Blog] Refinery29. Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Rachel, B. (2017). Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s ABC show Australia Wide axed. The Australian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2017].

The UK Government Office for Science (2013). Future Identity. [online] London. Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017].


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