doing some Thinking Out Loud over here…

I started reading Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out and was struck by this early passage on pages xviii-xix:

“We have used pseudonyms in most cases when referring to our research participants. In many, but not all, cases our participants chose these pseudonyms. In the case of some media producers, these names correspond with their creator identities or screen names in their respective interest groups, an approach that we think honors the reputations and investments of time that many of our participants work very hard to develop. When participants specifically requested it, we have used their screen names or their real-life names. When real names or screen names are used, we indicate this by a footnote in the text.”

I love the terminology of “creator identities” when referring to producer personae or screen names–which may or may not be pseudonyms–as that term does seem to pay homage to the carefully cultivated reputations and investment of time that people put into their creative expressions.

The choice to use the term “real-life names” seemed interesting because, at first-pass, that language seems rather dichotomous: it seems to imply that whatever you’re doing under your online screen name/creator identity–if it’s a pseudonym–is inherently not a part of your “real life”.

I don’t know about you, but often I feel like the various things I make/create/produce under online pseudonyms seem to be more authentic expressions of my “real” identity compared to things I make/create/produce under my “real name” in my “real life”.

I guess the next question becomes: then why use a pseudonym in the first place? To protect myself from criticism of my real self, at least as it’s attached to my real life identity? To allow an unguarded freedom of expression that I would otherwise deny? To experiment with and investigate new media ecologies that I would otherwise be hesitant to explore? Is it because, as suggested in Ch. 2, I may be able to show “new dimensions” of myself or re-frame my self-representation?

So how then do these choices influence my making/creating/producing? Would I do what I do if I had to use my “real life” name? Probably not. Why?

I have learned more–about myself, about other people, about what we’re all trying to do with each other, together–from my experiences as a member of Jenkins’ participatory media culture than I ever would have anticipated. As we work to, as Ito says on page 15, “disrupt the culturally dominant distinctions between production and consumption” with what we think and do and create, what are we really doing? There’s something incredibly awesome and powerful tucked in there.

E.g., right now I’m listening to a playlist created by a person who was inspired by someone else’s art, and that person created the artwork after they were inspired by someone else’s writing, and that writer was inspired by someone else’s writing.

The chain of inspiration is made visible through creation!

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