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Monday, April 4, 2011

Assignment #6: Interaction and Identity - PART 2

How is online identity shaped and expressed through interactions in this community?

In the proposed Internet Safety Online Community, online identity is shaped differently depending on the role of the participant. For the expert writing in their respective field, their Bios will shape identity, and inform the participants of their qualifications and experience. Also, the links they may share to other works will also help shape the experts identity. The experts will also interact with the participants who comment on their blogs, or ask them specific questions.

As for the individual participants commenting on the expert blogs, or asking questions of the experts, the identity issue is a little more complicated. Because there may be sensitive issues or topics discussed, a degree of anonymity is useful.

Also, because of the nature of this community and the importance of creating a safe place for participants (mainly K-12 students) to discuss topics relating to internet safety (predators, bullying etc...) all comments will be moderated.

Ideally the moderating will be done by the expert to whom the comment/question is addressed.

Sunny Day:

A 6th grade student feels she is being bullied online, she wants to know what she should do.
She posts an ambiguous sounding question on the Middle School Teacher's blog. The expert Middle School teacher suspects that the student is being bullied, referrers her to the appropriate people, and explains some coping and empowerment tools/skills she may utilize while the situation is being resolved.

Rainy Day:

Same situation, except the Middle School expert fails to address the underlying bullying issue. The student then feels isolated and let down. The student no longer visits the site.


  1. Interesting insights! I found it fascinating that the signals you received from the actor over the telephone were overly exaggerated, especially when he knew that he would meet you if casted. When I compare this example to your referrals from friends, I believe that your friends may have been more humble and underrated their abilities to ensure that you would not be let down by their skills. Therefore, they may have been taking care of their relationship with you to ensure you were not let down, where the interviewed actor did not have a previous link to you to lead in either direction. I do like the idea of your Cyberbullying On-line community, but am wondering about the purpose. Is it mostly support with strong ties? Or, is it informational? These may help to shape the OC.

  2. Thanks for your comment (and great questions).

    1. I think you are absolutely right about the exaggeration thing, the actor, had no link to me, if it did not work out, oh well....whereas my friend's friends are linked to me through their friends, so reputation is a stake.

    2. The purpose of the community for internet safety is mostly informational. I envision the experts who will be posting regular blogs as mentors or teachers. They are there to provide information, but also support when questions are asked or comments made.

  3. Indeed, when a site's reason for being has such importance and gravity, online identity and taste statements pale in comparison to the need for accurate, confidential and timely information exchange. I can, however, imagine a poster who regularly provides advice and support, posts about their personal experiences, and serves as a model that cyberbullying can be overcome.

    Also understand that this kind of community requires a larger leap than most to encourage people to participate. If the Web has been the source of pain for you, are you going to turn to the Web to be vulnerable and try to ease that pain? Since you're no stranger to the legal world, I'd look for precedents in other communities of people who have been victimized and seek information and support in other areas; perhaps patterns of identity expression and interaction in those communities might inform this one.

  4. It doesn't surprise me that some people oversell themselves and can't live up to what they advertised. It's a bit surprising that the guy you mentioned in (1) made such a bold claim that he obviously did not live up to. I suppose some people will say anything in order to get the part. Perhaps it works well in the short term, but in the long term, it might hurt his chances of getting another part.

    I have the same sentiment as Professor Gazan, where it's a difficult thing to accomplish when your remedy for a problem involves the person potentially exposing him or herself to the situation that he or she seeks relief from. You seem to have the same idea in your scenarios, where a lukewarm first experience causes the user to not return and perhaps feel worse off than before. I'm not sure how you would implement this (as its technically not something you can implement), but to me, the most important aspect for your concept is the timeliness of responses to advice-seeking members. New members can be fickle, moreso when they really want someone to turn to for help. If there's too much of a delay between their post and a reply, they may move on without returning to see the response to what they wrote.

  5. Thanks for the insights!

    Dr. Gazan - The issue of where kids who are bullied online go for support does warrant further research. I have a feeling that just because they the source of pain may have been transmitted via web, that will not keep the victim from going online again. The internet is just too big a part of most young people's life.

    Guy - I, too am concerned with timeliness of response. I think we can help solve that problem by making sure all the "expert" contributors who are the source of information are cognizant of the time issue and react accordingly.