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Online Identity
Identity is only shown prima facie by a textual label e.g. an email address. Typically this is a name (usually this convention is adopted by corporations) e.g. my own email address. This portrays no sense of identity. A practice that has grown out of the corporate world (perhaps to address this lack of identity in email) is to include a signature at the foot of the email. However this functions primarily to show contact details, although may also be used to show the users position within a company (i.e. job title and department).

Recreational web users on the other hand are able to use any format they wish when creating an email address for themselves. A quick survey of the member directory at MSN provides a number of different techniques to showing identity in an email address. The following addresses were found:


These addresses show a diverse set of attributes of their owners ranging from an affiliation to a movie, tv show or genre of music to an emotion or state of being.

Such wide ranging email addresses suggest that users are desparately seeking display an identity online. Textual labels, despite their limitations, can be used to show some forms of identity, albeit somewhat restricted. As so often seems to be the case, users are deviating from the intended use of a product in order to suit their own needs.


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