OII SDP 2007 (IX): Digital Identity

Leads: Judith Donath, John Clippinger

Identity, by Judith Donath

Individual identity vs. social identity

Facets of identity, identity signals, identity deception

Intimacy vs. Prestige

Individual Identity, by John Clippinger

Software called Higgins to analyze how identity is used on the internet.

Your immune system does not know who you are… but who you are not.

Important terms of art

  • identification: tied to the biological personal (biometric)
  • authentication: tied to an accepted identifier (SSL)
  • verification: tied to a third party

principle of minimum disclosure: no need to bring more info than just the absolutely necessary to identify you, with user control upon minimum disclosure

My reflections

  • Recovering Prof. García Albero reflections about cybercrime, I wonder if there is not a social identity but an identity of the social, an identity of the collective and if it does play a role in one’s actions, as society in the physical world play in i.e. criminals, following García Albero’s line of thought. In case there is, what is and how does it frame one’s acting. In case there’s not, is there a problem?
  • Both speakers provide thoughtful insight to these questions, explaining that there has been tested that, effectively, one’s behavior does change in front of a screen. Sometimes, the absence of a human being let’s the person relax and act more sincerely (he/she does not have to “perform” any role in front of the other/s). Sometimes, the absence of other human beings (or living beings in general, such as animals) relaxes the person but not in the sense of “performing” but in the sense of blurring one’s ties to ethics and moral. I.e. it’s easier to shoot an animal remotely that to do it in the flesh (and, my opinion, it’s easier to press the “red button” than to drop the bomb personally from Enola Gay)


Donath, J. S. (1999). “Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community”. In Gluckman, M. & Smith, M. A. (Eds.), Communities in Cyberspace. London: Routledge. Retrieved July 10, 2007 from
Jacobson, D. (1999). “Impression Formation in Cyberspace”. In Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 5(1). Washington, DC: International Communication Association.
Gluckman, M. (1963). “Gossip and Scandal”. In Current Antrhopology, 4(3), 307-316. Papers in Honor of Melville J. Herskovits: Gossip and Scandal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved July 10, 2007 from http://www.jstor.org/cgi-bin/jstor/printpage/00113204/dm991353/99p0356x/0.pdf?backcontext=page&dowhat=Acrobat&config=jstor&userID=d5492079@ouc.edu/01cce4405c00501c35f5a&0.pdf
Clippinger, J. H. (2007). A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity. New York: PublicAffairs. Chapters 8 (“Prospects for Digital Trust”) and 12 (“The Open We – Building Digital Institutions”)

More info

SDP 2007 related posts (2007)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “OII SDP 2007 (IX): Digital Identity” In ICTlogy, #46, July 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=574

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