In a reflection on Twitter’s recent IPO, artist Kyle McDonald asks what it means to have an online identity.
Twitter went public last week, and in response, media artist Kyle McDonald decided to open up his own personal Twitter account to the masses.
McDonald, who is known for his ‘People Staring at Computers’ project, wanted to explore the idea of what it means to form an online identity. He explains:
Twitter [is] one of the few services that has helped shape our understanding of what it means to craft an identity online, [so] I’ve decided to put my own identity in the hands of the public.
McDonald is taking advantage of Twitter’s relatively new feature, which gives users the option to receive direct messages from anyone (whereas previously they had to be followed by that person to message them). He created coded a way for users to link their direct messages to his own feed, so that anyone who direct messages him with a tilde symbol (~) before the message, will actually tweet as him. Says McDonald:
There’s a strange connection between our “self” and our body. The connection is assumed, because they’re difficult to separate. But the only thing connecting our identity to our online persona is the knowledge of a password. What happens when we break that connection and dilute our online identity?