Crowdsourcing identities: On identity as an existential practice mediated by contemporary digital technology
The purpose of this article is to outline crowdsourcing identities as one way to think about humans’ making of identity when practiced in conditions mediated by contemporary digital technologies. It brings together human practices, theory and technology and draws on perspectives of existentialism, social onstructivism, technology and ideas about crowdsourcing. Humans’ making of identity is considered a practice that concerns continuous requests and answers about existential matters of being, becoming and belonging: Who am I? How do I appear to others? Who can I be and become? Where do I belong? In that sense, it is a relational and social practice that is essential to exist as someone — rather than as no one. However, contemporary digital technologies such as social media are not considered essential to this practice. Technologies are thought of as mediating conditions where, for instance, social interactions about existential matters, such as the making of identity, can be practiced in ways that extend on what were possible in predigital times. In multimodal, multidirectional, collaborative and networked ways humans can represent, communicate, gather information and also engage online crowds of others in continuous requests and answers about being, becoming and belonging; Who am I? How do I appear to others? Who can I be and become? And, where do I belong? To illustrate this, two brief narratives of Mary and Steve introduce the article. The making of identity, the duality of Self and Other, the gaze as a panopticon of others, identity and technology and ideas about crowdsourcing are presented and outlined, converging into the interpretive lens of crowdsourcing identities — one way to think about the making of identity when practiced in conditions mediated by contemporary digital technology.