Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Embargo Period

9-18-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)

Department

Design

Advisor(s)

Aisling Kelliher

Abstract

In an eminently connected, networked and anonymous digital world, the individual sense of identity becomes a composition of personal and increasingly public layers of influences, likes, follows, and shares. To the digital native, this multi-layer composition is, in some cases, complimentary, and in others, entirely opposing manifestations of interests, tastes, preferences and experiences, canvased across multiple systems, apps and social networks. With an interest in enabling a digital archaeology of this information – exploring and understanding it in a more complete sense – this thesis will explore both the theoretical and philosophical basis on which modern identity is considered in the context of user experience design and online social networks. With a theoretical basis in storytelling, curation, and myth, building towards a technical and research basis in information assessability, natural language processing and data visualization, it will explore the notion of “personal digital identity” – both in the form of personal experience and personal story – under the context of online social network platforms that are prevalent today. Finally, it will propose and demonstrate a fully functional tool for the above mentioned “archaeology” of personal digital identity, within the context of a specific online social network – Reddit.com “Ask Me Anything” interview. As a design research project, the focus of the project will be on realizing the full potential for online knowledge sharing platforms in helping shape, develop, and share personal stories and experiences.

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