I’ve just been checking out Thomas Ryberg’s draft paper on Networked Identities, which in a very fitting way I found via a comment Thomas had left over on an Explode comment wall – he’d posted it over at his site in response to an Explode ‘friends nudge’ (basically, messaging to people on your friends list) from Stan Stanier asking for suggestions on explaining the benefits of social networking sites and practices to teaching/academic staff.
Well, here you go Stan, one example of the usefulness of semi-structured networking within and across networks on a plate ☺
Thomas’s article raised exactly the issues we’ve been tackling over at the Emerge project, particularly the limitations of community of practice theorising around online activities and associations, and the current turn towards thinking through network identities.
So far, so useful. However – I’m wrestling with one particularly (to me anyway) sticky related issue at the moment. I was at NESTA’s Uploading Innovation event (co-ordinated by Policy Unplugged) and in one of the breakouts one of the participants pointed out the futility of distinguishing between online and offline in terms of young peoples activity, since for many of them the two were perceived of and experienced as interdependent. No argument from me. However, I have a similar problem to Stan, in that I still need to articulate fields of activity to people whose experience of the internet and technology may be very much less network, or community, or socially based. I’ve been using ‘online’ and ‘offline’ as indicators – but I’m aware that this is a very geek-centric approach which may not sit well with people who don’t spent as much time online as I do. I really have a problem with (and so won’t use) the ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ (real world, real life) as a distinction – even though the popularity of the acronym IRL (in real life) is notably on the rise. I’ve occasionally fallen back on referring to offline as 3D.
Presuming it’s not just me who has an issue, can I ask what everyone else’s thinking is? What your preferred or grudging used terminology has been? Is my dependence on dichotomies a bit pitiful? What do you use?