Call: Workshop: Personal Identities after the Information Revolution

Workshop: Personal Identities after the Information Revolution
University of Hertfordshire, UK, 17 June 2011

Part of the AHRC project The Construction of Personal Identities Online

Workshop Themes and Focus

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are building a new habitat (infosphere) in which we are spending an increasing amount of time. So, how individuals construct and maintain their personal identities online (PIOs) is a problem of growing and pressing importance. Today, PIOs can be created and developed, as an ongoing work-in-progress, to provide experiential enrichment, expand, improve or even help to repair relationships with others and with the world, or enable imaginative projections (the “being in someone else’s shoes” experience), thus fostering tolerance. However, PIOs can also be mis-constructed, stolen, “abused”, or lead to psychologically or morally unhealthy lives, causing a loss of engagement with the actual world and real people. The construction of PIOs affects how individuals understand themselves and the groups, societies and cultures to which they belong, both online and offline. PIOs increasingly contribute to individuals’ self-esteem, influence their life-styles, and affect their values, moral behaviours and ethical expectations. It is a phenomenon with enormous practical implications, and yet, crucially, individuals as well as groups seem to lack a clear, conceptual understanding of who they are in the infosphere and what it means to be an ethically responsible informational agent online. The workshop will address this gap in our philosophical understanding by addressing questions such as:

  • How does one go about constructing, developing and preserving a PIO?
  • Who am I online? How do I, as well as other people, define and re-identify myself online?
  • What is it like to be that particular me (instead of you, or another me with a different PIO), in a virtual environment?
  • Should one care about what happens to one’s own PIO and how one (with his/her PIO) is perceived to behave online?
  • How do PIs online and offline feedback on each other? Do customisable, reproducible and disposable PIOs affect our understanding of our PI offline?

A selection of papers presented at the workshop will be published in a special issue of Springer’s journal Philosophy & Technology (

More information:

Luciano Floridi


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