You don’t look like your profile picture

A serviceman accesses social media channels using a smart phone, outside MOD Main Building in London.

A serviceman accesses social media channels using a smart phone, outside MOD Main Building in London.

Ainslee H is currently doing her PhD in Anthropology looking at ambiguous identities in online worlds and how these identities present themselves through identity play. Indeed, her post is the first about an Anthropological doctoral research. You can read her blog “Anthropology Musings of an anthro-tragic” and connect to her on Twitter @Ainslee

The moment that you had the idea and decided it was something you wanted to research (your Archimedes moment):

I had my research idea way back in 2010 when I was still actually an undergrad student. I started to see people putting up profile pictures on Facebook which were no longer of themselves, but were of babies, pets etc. This was curious to me as it was meant to be a profile picture of themselves and I wanted to understand why it was that people present themselves the way they do in online worlds.

How your background and experience may have led to your choice of PhD topic, no matter how tenuously?

One of my undergrad subjects spoke about identity. There was one specific lecture which discussed ambiguous identity, looking at scholars such as George Herbert Mead and also Erving Goffman. I loved this idea of how people could present themselves in particular ways depending on the context in which they were presenting themselves.

How your reading and research may have been shaped by things by extra-curricular or non-academic factors?

I am a bit of a geek/nerd and have spent a lot of time on the internet, using Internet Relay Chat (IRC). I have known people who I know both offline and online and their personas are sometimes different offline than they are online. This has always intrigued me as to why this is.


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