More than two years ago, I submitted a book chapter for The Computer Culture Reader, an edited collection to be published by Cambridge Scholars Press. Entitled "The Personal as Public: Identity Construction/Fragmentation Online," my chapter addressed Kenneth Gergen's concept of multiphrenia, a new pattern of self-consciousness itensified by the increasing “number and variety of relationships in which we are engaged, potential frequency of contact, and expressed intensity of a relationship” (The Saturated Self 61). Part of my argument involved taking as fact that we are all the more engaged in multiphrenia because of the multiplication of computer-assisted modes of communication. Because of this, self-awareness is not so much necessary as it is inseparable from the very formation of online identity.
Furthermore, the wide variety of interactive possibilities afforded by online communicative technologies make the creation and maintenance of identity a kind of lens through which we may sharpen focus upon particular aspects of our selves. As Sherry Turkle in Life on the Screen observes, all online activities are embodied by personal beings engaged in "our cultural work in progress" (177). Any genre-specific online act is a continual exercise in identity construction, a consistent, perhaps even repetitive, creation of boundaries both real and virtual.
Blogging, the ultimate focus of my chapter, constitutes such an act. It is an opportunity for simple self-expression and a context for discovering who we are and wish to be (Turkle 184). My ultimate aim, then, was to illuminate and complicate this act by emphasizing how blogging fragments and even limits identity construction, and also how such fragmentation holds the potential for greater honesty in our online endeavors. In other words, the fragmentary aspects of constructing and maintaining online identity was something to be embraced rather than feared. This is because the many opportunities afforded by various online communicative technologies like blogging involve the externalization of multiple selves on the screen.
With near-infinite amount of space in which to do so, we can put as much or as little of our selves online as we desire and in as many different ways as we need or want. The Internet encourages identity multiplication, making for the sort of society in which the very concept of multi-identities is valorized (Identity, Culture and the Postmodern World, Madan Sarup, 142). Blogging, and other online communicative technologies, is therefore more than "a space for growth" (Turkle, 263) and, instead, a vital part of the continual exercise in identity construction online and offline.While I still agree with the above ideas in principle, the passage of time and certain experiences within the last two years caused some changes in my perspective. More and more, the title of one of Flannery O'Connor's short-story collections comes to my mind: Everything That Rises Must Converge. What were once diverse interests are now closer together, and my intent with this blog is to reveal that closeness, that convergence. I cannot separate the different aspects of my life into different Moleskine journals, preferring (if not needing) instead to maintain one comprehensive offline space; this blog will serve a similar function, acting as a repository for ideas and observations related to select interests.
I created this blog more than six months before writing for that chapter for The Computer Culture Reader, as evidenced by earlier entries, most of which were part of a graduate-level course with Dr. Kris Blair at Bowling Green State University. Rather than delete them, I decided to keep them in this space as a reminder of where I was and just what I want to do here in the future, writing not only about composition pedagogy, rhetoric and technology but also about music mixes and video games. You, dear reader, are more than welcome to come along for the ride.