Online representation: or how come I look sophisticated online.

On: October 1, 2009
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About Thomas Fonville
A Bachelor of Arts, specialized in New Media. Currently upgrading towards a Master of New Media. My interest in the field of new media lies in the subject of space, and how new media can shape these different spaces. My Bachelor thesis named; "Augmented space and Digital Art, or a remediation of virtual reality" concentrated on the subject of space in relation to Digital Art. Apart from new media I have a major interest in popular culture and modern art.

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Everyday it is the same routine, as soon as I open my Firefox browser the first thing I will type is the address of Facebook. To see what all of my friends are up to or what their status is for the time being. Furthermore I try to keep my online self as smart looking as possible, after all this is my representation of myself to the whole world. And I surely don’t want to look bad in front of such a large crowd.

“Generation of group-specific meanings” vs. “Generation of group-specific identities”[1]

By including oneself into different groups, one quickly acknowledges an interest and a subdivision in a cultural base. For instance by including oneself in art groups, friends of a person might qualify that friend as an art expert. While including oneself into a group one gives meaning to the status oneself. Furthermore one creates meaning to the group as such, since the members of this group have a common knowledge. A participant could therefore add new ‘insider’ information to an interest group as such. On the other hand, one can add an interest just to be connotated with a name.

By engaging in this process the group specific meaning shifts to a group specific identity, which is one of the key functions of Facebook. By imposing an identity upon oneself, one quickly emerges in the meaning accompanied. Facebook promotes this function as such, in that Facebook has many applications which will contribute to this relation.

Facebook is a common space for activities and functions so to say as a ‘vehicle’ in order to steer our online social life.

In this research I would like to focus upon the abilities available from Facebook to edit personal trademarks. In having the ability to link cultural interest to the online world, does this enhance the cultural experience or are these options simply cultural gimmicks?

In researching these trademarks of Facebook the following must be noticed. That Facebook truly functions as a social network, and that Facebook provides space in order to express oneself in a social network. In order to research these trademarks, a difference must be made between what Facebook divides as ‘pages’ and ‘groups.’ This division could be linked to the earlier mentioned concepts of identity and meaning.

Both being problematic terms since identity and meaning are very much terms of speculation. For instance one person could impossibly explain another persons meanings. However through using Facebook a person could imply meaning upon oneself by explicitly emphasize upon interests.

Now in order to return to my research, could one deduct from the ‘pages’ and ‘groups’ a certain profile? In which I mean a clear profile such as a white heterosexual male? Think also of the division made between private and public, in accepting friends a Facebook user invites a friend into the private area of a life which one has made public through the use of Facebook. This notion stand in relation with the earlier mentioned notions of identity and meaning. Whereas identity could be seen as the public and meaning as the private.

This playing field of identity &  meaning and private & public shows how to contol one’s image and one’s self representation. Therefore an online avatar is a controlled edit of yourself, in the online world one can now life up to higher expectations.


[1] Nancy Baym, ‘The emergence of online community.’ In Cybersociety 2.0. California; Sage, 1998.

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