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Steven Warburton :: Blog :: who am i? ... mashed-up, disaggregated and distributed

October 29, 2008


What does digital identity mean to you? Do you care? As more of our
lives, from personal to professional activities, find their way online
how do we cope with managing our digital
presence(s)? Can we ever keep the 'personal' separate from 'professional' when
tools and services mash-up our online identities in ways that are
beyond our control?

The Rhizome project, funded by Eduserv, is a 14 month exploration of digital identities across learning, teaching and research.

Why use the word rhizome? This project
addresses the issues surrounding the increasingly fractured
nature of the self when our online identities become distributed across
multiple sites and services. Rhizome is a Deleuzian concept that has
been used and taken by many active in the field of art, science and
philosophy. It is used in this project as a cipher for understandings
of digital identity as:

  • decentralised

  • unpredictable

  • connected

  • branching in many directions

  • having multiple entry points

  • with no single true view, only partial perspectives

  • and constituted as a multiplicity of dimensions where we lose the illusion of the objective all seeing eye/I

From this we are also using the metaphor of cartography, the map, a
space which has no privileged entry point and is always open to change. This is a metaphor we have played on with our chosen technical platform - Netvibes - a representation that captures the multiple views and entry points to our work.

The project is taking a mutli-layered approach to studying the construction and deconstruction of digital identities and an overview of how we are planning our 14 months of work is outlined here in our 21 slide presentation:

We welcome participation as the project develops! Please see the project home at http://www.rhizomeproject.org and the project blog.

The references we use for this conceptual entry into understandings of digital identity are at present:

Deleuze & Guattari (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press.

Sermijn, Devlieger and Loots (2008). The Narrative Construction of
the Self: Selfhood as a Rhizomatic Story. Qualitative Inquiry,

Posted by Steven Warburton


  1. Steve,

    When I go to the Netvibes page that you link to for this project, I see a blank box with zero info about "What is the Rhizome project" and underneath it a blank box with the Rhizome Overview.  So - the project itself seems to have an identity issue.  However, I persevered and went to rhizome.org which is a completely different project. So eventually I went to rhizomeproject.org and found the same blank boxes back at the netvives site.  So - not impressed.

    Roddy MacLeodRoddy MacLeod on Wednesday, 29 October 2008, 09:51 GMT # |

  2. Me neither! This is a netvibes widget issue with some browsers. I am checking and thanks for letting me know. In the meantime, the blog is here:



    Steven WarburtonSteven Warburton on Wednesday, 05 November 2008, 19:56 GMT # |

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