Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Read more of Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" thinking about how I consciously and sub-consciously show or hide facets of my identity depending on the context. Today, Marko introduced me to his mother and father. His father is Martti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland and a very well known global diplomat famous for his skill in crisis management. I had heard a lot about his father and was looking forward to meeting him in person. As I was taking my morning shower, I was watching myself thinking about what I was going to talk about with him, trying to imagine what things would be interesting and how those things would affect his opinion of me. It was an odd thing. I consciously watched a lot of the things that I do sub-consciously and realized how much I was actually managing and presenting my identity. What might we have in common? Do I want to talk more or listen more? Do I need to impress him? A lot of things were going through my mind.

Having said that, the shower rehearsal wasn't really necessary and we had a very comfortable breakfast. I found Mr. Ahtisaari to be a down-to-earth and receptive person with an extremely positive global outlook. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Ahtisaari. I can see where Marko gets that "Mr. Diplomat" style. ;-)

This relates to my last post. In an email exchange, someone mentioned that their friend switched to broken English when speaking to their foreign friends. When asked why, she replied that otherwise they would think she was elitist.

I find that my English language accent is SO affected by who I'm talking to that it's embarrassing and I'm self-conscious about it. I sometimes try to resist it, but it happens. I see other people doing this too, but I find mine particularly bad. It is obviously happening in my sub-conscious, but it might have something to do with the "girls playing dumb" thing.

Goffman wrote this in 1959. Is this true today?

Goffman
American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness. These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know; they conceal proficiency in mathematics from their less able consorts; they lose ping-pong games just before the ending.
Mirra Komarovsky
One of the nicest techniques is to spell long words incorrectly once in a while. My boy friend seems to get a great kick out of it and writes back, 'Honey, you certainly don't know how to spell.'
According to the marketing talk on bowling alleys that I heard the other day, there is a funny behavior that is quite common. The guys try very hard to impress girls at the bowling alley and they start out OK, usually doing better than the girls at the beginning. These guys start to get tense and begin to perform more poorly towards the end. The girls, on the other hand, start to get the hang of it, remain relaxed (which is important for bowling) and usually win at the end, leaving the guy grumpy. Many bowling alleys have ping-pong tables which allow the guy to try to regain their pride and allow the girls to give it back.

A Meta Note: reading a book while thinking about what to blog is a slow, but interesting way to read a book. I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings...


OK I've got gadget envy. Dan blogs about his RSS feed on his Treo 600 and says he wants a client that lets him blog easily from it too. Anyone know of anything good? Ado, want to port Kung-Log to PalmOS?

Mimi and danah both refer to Erving Goffman's book, "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" so I've started reading it with digital identities and blogging in mind.

Goffman
It should be understood that the cynic, with all of his professional disinvolvement, may obtain unprofessional pleasures from his masquerade, experiencing a kind of gleeful spiritual aggression from the fact that he can toy at will with something his audience must take seriously.
This TOTALLY reminded me of Dvorak. He always as a gleeful look when he talks about his performances.
Goffman
It is not assumed, of course, that all cynical performers are interested in deluding their audiences for purposes of what is called "self-interest" or private gain. A cynical individual may delude his audience for what he considers to be their own good, or for the good of the community, etc.
Dvorak again. By the way, I love Dvorak and think he's hilarious, but it's watching the performance that I love.