Identity in 10,000 Pixels: LiveJournal Userpics and Fractured Selves in Web 2.0

B. Grantham Aldred

Abstract


In the virtual world of Web 2.0, what is the “self”?  How do people create a tangible image of self that is linked to user generated-content when limited to a static series of avatars, and how does this inform our understanding of critical questions about identity and representation online?  Using semiotics, psychoanalysis, and folklore, this article examines userpics in the world of LiveJournal, and analyzes how a group of users negotiate their identity with repertoires of 100 x 100 userpics. Drawing on research among LiveJournal users, the article presents a new view on the fractured nature of identity, exploring the epistemic nature of the avatar/self.

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