Our Identities Have No Bodies: Web, Code, and Self-Exploration
Whether we’re ready or not, the nature of identity is changing. In the internet’s early days, places like Livejournal, usenet, and Geocities fostered a kind of freedom and anonymity that is hard to find now. In an era when single-sign-on is king, we are increasingly moving towards tying our faces to data for advertising and marketing purposes, we remove barriers between the digital and the physical. These barrier were often placed for a reason— to explore parts of our identity that we want to keep private. There were opportunities for identity exploration, self-expression, and community, concepts which shift today in the world of web development and open-source.
So how are we—as designers and developers of the web— responsible for others' identity expression? How does our code help (and hinder) the building of communities which keep us safe and contribute to harassment? Let's wax nostalgic a bit about the internet's early days and ask how much we should care about the products we build, and how users build their identities around those products and our code.