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Advanced Identity Representation

Chimeria

Everyone belongs to social categories based on factors such as musical preference, fashion, gender, or race. Yet, some category members are more central, privileged, or marginalized than others. Membership in such social categories is also dynamic: whether someone is a member or not may change over time, both within and between groups. Chimeria is a system to help people better understand social categorization phenomena such as marginalization and the dynamics of group membership. Chimeria does this through an interactive narrative. Consider the following story on a music-oriented social network:

A punk rock music fan decides to listen to a little jazz. She listens to a couple of albums by the jazz musician Thelonious Monk, but however, still continues to post messages only about punk rock. She grows tired of being a punk rocker (who dabbles in jazz on the side), so listens again only to hardcore punk rock music. But now, upon returning back to punk rock, punk rock seems to have lost its luster. She finally decides to forsake punk rock and become a jazz fan...for good.

In this story, a central member of a category moves toward the margins of the category, back toward the center, and finally changes categories altogether at the end. This pattern of movement within and between categories is the sort of phenomenon that Chimeria models mathematically. The story could have been one of racial or gender group membership; but for the initial version of Chimeria we have chosen music-related identity as a focus domain.

These dynamics of group membership are simulated in Chimeria using an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven interactive story. Users interact with various characters within a novel social networking interface. Based on a player’s musical preferences and decisions in an online conversation, the system dynamically generates an interactive conversation centered upon snippets of music that takes place between the user and the other characters. This interactive conversation, grounded in a sociolinguistics model of conversational narrative, allows an engaging experience in which players may encounter various social category membership phenomena which occur in the real-world.

Mimesis

Online social networks and video games are prevalent in today’s society, and using both video game characters and social networking profiles cam potentially be used to help people better understand others’ experiences, delivering meaningful experiences which enable critical reflection upon one’s identity, and on others’ experiences related to identity. However, merely customizing graphical representations and text fields are insufficient to convey the richness of our real world identities.

AIR Toolkit Development

AIR Toolkit Development

The Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project ($535,060/5 years, NSF CAREER Award #0952896) is a new transdisciplinary approach to the problem of designing identity technologies to enable imaginative self-representations and to counter social stigmas by implementing dynamic social identity models grounded in computing and cognitive science.

Avatar Breeder

Avatar Breeder

Avatar Breeder is a genetic algorithm-based procedurally generative satirical artwork constructed by Daniel Upton and Jisun An in Dr. Harrell's graduate course LCC 6312: Design, Technology, and Representation. It is intended to undermine normative categories of identity encountered on bureaucratic forms and in everyday lived experience. In such discrete categorization systems, ethnic identities can be based on geography, nationality, ancestry, family, culture and sub-culture, religion, language, race or any combination of these.

Define Me: Chimera

Define Me: Chimera

DefineMe: Chimera is a social networking (Facebook) application in which users define metaphorical profiles and avatars for each other, and several games and avatar creation systems where users' representations change dynamically based upon social context, user interaction, and artifact use. The DefineMe database is designed to be lightweight, dynamic, and extensible, while implementing categorical relationships between members.

Chameleonia

Chameleonia

Chameleonia: Days of Lost Selves is a prototype sketch of a game based on shifting identities where the construction of self is at stake. Players make gestures associated with traits such as aggression, commerce, ideology, and more. Player's avatars, and their opponents', then transform in response. One moment the player character is a bazooka-toting cowgirl/boy sipping a softdrink - at the next moment a gold chain and pocketwatch wearing tycoon with stock charts bursting from its top-hatted head.

Algebra of Identity: Skin of Wind, Skin of Streams, Skin of Shadows, Skin of Vapor

D. Fox Harrell
CTheory. October 2005. Reprinted in Critical Digital Studies: A Reader. Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker, eds. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2008, pp. 158-174.
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