proposaldoc - Digital Identity Constructions.doc by lovemacromastia


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          Digital Identity Constructions
 A proposal to be submitted to the INE Research Grants Program
of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
          for the period April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2006

                     Principal Investigator

                       Andrew Clement
                Faculty of Information Studies
                    University of Toronto
              Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2M8
                     140 St. George Street


                          David Lyon
                     Sociology Department
                      Queen‘s University

                         Roger Clarke
                     Xamax Consultancy
                Computer Science Department
                Australian National University

             Information Policy Research Program

                          October 2002
                                                                                        CLEMENT p. 12

With the expansion of networked communications and enhanced personal mobilities for many in
‗advanced‘ societies, the accumulated digital records of individuals‘ attributes, preferences and prior
behaviour increasingly mediate peoples‘ interactions among themselves and with organizations.
Systemically organized and deployed, these records become a kind of ―digital identity‖, one that stands
in for the ‗real‘ person, especially during on-line transactions when the actual human bodies are not co-
    The growing role of these digital identities raises a host of complex and inter-related questions with
profound implications for the emergence of the ‗new economy‘. Most prominently are questions around
the increasingly pervasive surveillance practices and the threats to personal privacy this poses. Related
to this are shifts in the way that the trust between parties to a transaction is developed and maintained.
Identities may be ‗corrupted‘ in various ways with negative consequences -- from outright theft and
impersonation, to mistaken identity due to closeness of data matches, to collection and processing errors
that go undetected or are then difficult to correct once discovered. The identification stakes have been
raised even further post-9/11 with heightened concerns around security.
    A central and cross cutting issue is who constructs these identities? What influence do the
individuals concerned have on their digital representations? Under what conditions are they imposed,
why and how? What practices do people adopt to assert their own identities?
    This research will investigate and elaborate the concept of digital identity through a series of linked
cases studies of identity constructions in practice. The methods will be largely qualitative, gathering
data through direct observation in sites of intensive digital mediated interactions, interviews with the
main participants and examination of the documents used in developing the identification technologies
and practices. The sites reflect a range of key areas of activity that characterize the new economy and
involve individuals acting in several of the main roles of everyday life – as workers, consumers and
citizens. The three initial case studies are:
 1. Identity dimensions of wearable computing, which will examine the development and use of
    prototype ‗wearable‘ computers by field service technicians that track performance and make them
    much more available to supervisory oversight.
 2. Measuring digital individuals in call centres, involves another workplace study in which detailed
    performance monitoring produces a digital identity central to relations with supervisors, as well as
    with co-workers and customers.
 3. Ontario’s ‘smart’ identification card, involves examining the development of the biometric smart
    card proposed in 1999 by the Ontario government for use by all Ontarians, one which potentially
    could have become their single most important digital identity.
Two additional case studies will be conducted to make further connections between the various facets of
digital identity construction.

The main intellectual contributions of this research include:
  Providing empirically-grounded illustrations of digital identity construction across a range of
   everyday situations
  Refining of the concept of digital identity to enhance its utility in analysing ‗e-commerce‘
   applications, ‗e-government‘ services, and intensively electronically mediated workplaces.
  Enlarging the identity technology design repertoire to include a wider range of identification options

The wider social benefits of this research will come in contributing to public policies concerning the
development of identification schemes, and in particular the privacy policies enacted by government and
business organizations. We also aim to contribute to better public understandings of what is a stake for
individuals in digital identity construction and what some of the viable alternatives are.
                                                                                        CLEMENT p. 13

Detailed Description


We take ‗digital identity‘ to mean an aggregated collection of data about an individual intended for use
as proxy for the individual (from Clarke, 1994). The principal objectives of this research are to:
  Examine empirically the ways in which digital identities are created and used in a variety of
    everyday settings;
  Explore the ways in which identities are imposed on individuals by technological or bureaucratic
    means as well as how individuals find ways of projecting their distinctive identities via digital
  Explore the implications of digital identity construction for individuals in their roles as workers,
    consumers and citizens;
  Refine the concept of digital identity to enhance its analytic utility in understanding a range of
    application areas (notably those relevant to ‗e-commerce‘, ‗e-government‘, and intensively
    electronically mediated workplaces);
  Contribute to contemporary policy debates concerning government and business initiated
    identification schemes (notably in the areas of privacy protection, security enhancement and public
    participation in information infrastructure development);
  Contribute to identity technology design debates (notably by opening up the range of identification
    options to include anonymity and pseudo-nymity as appropriate);
  Train researchers who can make on-going contributions to a key emerging socio-technical field of
    ‗new economy‘ studies.


   The emergence of digital identity - Relevant background and literatures

Identity—both embodied and digital—is primarily established in social interaction. This interaction
consists of an exchange of information—be it linguistic, paralinguistic, visual, or textual. In this
information exchange individuals define images of themselves and of others (Mead, 1934; Goffman,
1959; Kilger, 1994). However, it is not necessary that this interaction occur between two human entities,
nor does it necessarily happen only in direct social relations. Identities are also defined via indirect
social relations, e.g., internet-mediated interaction with an institution. There is growing recognition in
the social sciences, cultural studies in particular, that the conventional notions of a stable identity are
inadequate for understanding contemporary societies (Hall, 2000; Bell, 2001). As new digital
technologies become commonplace, and mediate more of our everyday activities, they are contributing
to unsettling of individual identities while offering new expressive possibilities.
    Two of the most important figures in the early exploration of electronic identities are Turkle (1995)
and Stone (1996). Both authors focus on active construction of digital identities, in the context of role-
playing activities. For these authors digital technologies are an ―arena for social experimentation‖ (Stone
1996), that offer new models and opportunities. Turkle draws an analogy between the computer‘s
windows, and the creation of a new multiple, distributed self. The findings of these early studies of
digital identity have been challenged by later studies that show that most digital identity construction is
far from being constraint free, but is based upon mainstream representations and stereotypes (Nakamura
1998, 2002; Little 1999).
    Roger Clarke‘s (1994) paper ‗The digital persona and its application to data surveillance‘ offers an
alternative approach to the concept of digital identity, one which is more applicable to the less playful,
                                                                                            CLEMENT p. 14
more organizationally-based interactions of everyday life. Clarke points out the distinction between
projected and imposed identities. A projected identity is one that is, at least partially, controlled by the
individual. The types of identities discussed by Turkle and Stone fall into this category. An imposed
identity is established by others and the individual has little control over it. Imposed identities are
established through the collection of data from interactions with a given digital interface, e.g., workplace
software, and through systematic surveillance practices (Lyon, 1994) such as data-mining and profiling.
The collected data is categorized and stored in a database where it can be used in what Gandy (1996)
refers to as the ‗panoptic sort.‘ These clusters of data create what researchers have called a ‗digital
individual‘ (Agre, 1994), data-image (Laudon 1986), ‗virtual self‘ (Kilger, 1994), ‗additional self‘
(Poster, 1990), and ‗data shadow‘, among others. The notion of ‗digital identity‘ used in this research
draws on all of these, but most directly on Clarke‘s notion of ‗digital persona‘, which he defines as ‗a
model of an individual‘s public personality based on data and maintained by transactions, and intended
for use as a proxy for the individual‘ (Clarke, 1994).

   Distinctive focus of the proposed research

The pervasiveness and intimacy of the identity technologies described here —smartcards, wearable
computers, customer and employee databases and interfaces—make them excellent sites to investigate
the practices of identity construction. The routine use of tracking and monitoring technologies makes it
urgent to look at the issues that surround the construction of digital identities. Questions such as: How
are digital identities constructed? How do digital technologies mediate these constructions? Where does
the digital persona end and the embodied individual begin? Who is responsible for this digital persona?
    This research will address these and related questions through as series of five case studies that cut
across the range of key activities that characterize the new economy and involve individuals acting in
several of the main roles of everyday life – as workers, consumers and citizens. The three initial case
studies are:
 1. Identity dimensions of wearable computing, which will examine the development and use of
    prototype ―wearable‖ computers by field service technicians working for a large telecommunications
    utility. The wearable computers permit this highly mobile workforce ready access to centrally stored
    data about the customer equipment to be repaired, but at the same time track their activities in great
    detail, making them much more available to supervisory oversight. This study seeks to understand
    the motivations, negotiations, and adaptations involving the different actors in developing identity
    models based on the wearable computers and their connections to centralized information systems.
 2. Measuring digital individuals in call centres, represents another workplace study in which detailed
    performance monitoring produces a digital identity central to relations with supervisors, as well as
    with co-workers and customers. Call center operators at a financial institution deal rapidly with a
    myriad of incoming customer requests by drawing from and contributing to the stored customer
    identities, while at the same time attempting to produce a digital record of their own identities as
    reliable, polite and efficient employees.
 3. Ontario’s ‘smart’ identification card, will examine the development of the biometric smart card
    proposed in 1999 by the Ontario government for use by all Ontarians. The focus of the case study is
    on the way in which Ontarians, both as consumers of government services and as citizens with a
    voice in the governing process, could participate, or not, in constructing potentially their single most
    important digital identity.

   Relation to on-going research program

The studies proposed here extend and deepen the program of research the principal investigator (PI) has
pursued for the past twenty years. Beginning with his doctoral research in the early 1980s, in which he
                                                                                         CLEMENT p. 15
analyzed the introduction of on-line transaction processing systems into a large corporate head office, he
became interested in the practices and technologies of workplace surveillance (Clement, 1984, 1988,
1992). This also led to work focused on employee privacy and design alternatives in increasingly
networked workplaces (Clement, 1996). More recently ‗identity‘, rather than surveillance and privacy
per se, has become a more central concept for this work, since it appears better able to reflect the
fundamental processes associated with the computerization of everyday workplace, domestic and civic
life. Also recently, he has become directly involved in the public policy discussions around the
development of national information infrastructures, launching the Information Policy Research
Program (IPRP) with a SSHRC strategic grant to aimed mainly at developing a national policy for
―universal access‖ to Canada‘s ―information highway.‖ (Clement, 1998; Clement, Moll & Shade, 2001)
In the past few years he has begun looking at another aspect of information infrastructures – ‗smart‘ (i.e.
chip based) cards, such as used by Mondex Canada for electronic cash transactions (Stalder & Clement,
1999) and the identification card initiated by the Ontario government (Clement et al, 2001). His most
recently published paper examined critically the national identification schemes proposed as a response
to the 9/11 terrorist attacks (Clement et al, 2002).
     In addition, this current proposal complements the other major research the PI is currently engaged
in. The Everyday Internet project, also funded by SSHRC, studies the experiences of regular internet
users in their homes and in public access sites. It too adopts largely ethnographic approaches and
identifies broad policy implications. However, while privacy and identity are among the issues
examined, they are of secondary importance, and there is no overlap with the proposed case studies.

   Expected research contributions – empirical, conceptual and developmental
     refinement of ‘digital identities’

The main intellectual contributions of this research will include:
  Providing empirically-grounded illustrations of digital identity construction across a range of
   everyday situations that reflect individuals acting in their roles as workers, consumers and citizens.
   This will enrich our understanding of the variety and contingencies of digital identity constructions,
   as well as provide the basis for developing conceptual models that highlight their commonalities.
  Refining the concept of digital identity to enhance its utility both in theorizing and in empirically
   analyzing electronically mediated transactions characteristic of the new economy - notably ‗e-
   commerce‘ applications, ‗e-government‘ services, and technologically intensive workplaces.
  Enlarging the identity technology design repertoire to include a wider range of identification options,
   notably anonymity and pseudo-nymity, which are sensitive to the social, organizational and human
   implications of identity technologies in everyday life.

The wider social benefits of this research will come in contributing to public policy debates concerning
the development of identification schemes and in particular the privacy policies enacted by government
and business organizations. We also aim to contribute to better public understandings of what is a stake
for individuals in digital identity construction and what some of the viable alternatives are.

   Theoretical approaches – ‘social construction of technology’ and its ilk

This research adopts as its central theoretical perspective the social construction of technology (SCOT),
insofar as it enables focusing on the interplay and interrelationships between the social and the
technical. This approach recognizes that use practices are important in shaping technological systems,
even as the nature of individual systems makes them more or less responsive and adaptable to the needs
of their various stakeholders (Bjiker, Hughes & Pinch, 1987; Bjiker & Law, 1992; Mackenzie &
Wajcman, 1999). The research will be conducted as a coordinated series of cases studies, each exploring
                                                                                             CLEMENT p. 16
different aspects of the construction (whether by imposition or projection), negotiation, and implications
of digital identities, and examining these issues using distinct, yet complementary, approaches. In
  Identity dimensions of wearable computing sub-project draws upon actor-network theory (ANT) and
    sociocultural psychology. ANT shares with SCOT a pre-occupation with the social dynamics of
    technological development, but takes a radically symmetric approach to analyzing the mutual
    shaping of the social and artifactual (Latour 1991, 2000; Callon 1999; Law 1999). It therefore
    provides an excellent framework within which to observe and report the development of identity
    technologies and the social practices that accompany them (Stalder 2001). ANT asserts that the
    social is made up of hybrid networks, sets of relationships that bring together people and artifacts
    (Strum & Latour 1985; Latour 1993). In this sense, neither humans nor technologies can be defined
    or understood without one another. For ANT each technological project is then a socio-technical
    project, a network in which humans and nonhumans are brought together, struggle to impose their
    views and adapt to one another. ANT allows the researcher to map the development of a
    technological artifact—and all of its compromises, negotiations and struggles—without needing to
    change vocabularies when describing the social or technical (Latour 1999, Callon & Law 1997).
    Sociocultural psychology provides a way of extending this framework to the level of the individual
    human actor, while still highlighting the importance of the mutual constitution of humans and
    nonhumans at the cognitive level (Wertsch 1998a, 1998b; Vygotsky 1978, 1983; Cole 1996).
  Ontario’s ‘smart’ identification card sub-project likewise a draws upon ANT, and in particular
    builds upon the work of the PI‘s former PhD student, Felix Stalder, who used ANT as the basis of
    his analysis of the development and field experiments with the Mondex stored value cash card
    (Stalder, 2001; Stalder & Clement, 1998). This sub-project will also draw upon theories of
    governance and public consultation.
  Measuring digital individuals in call centres will use the framework of activity theory (AT). The
    basic premise of AT is that information technology and work practices can only adequately be
    understood and, therefore, designed effectively in the context of the larger social or organizational
    system in which they are embedded. As such, activity theory has been used in studies centering on
    technology introduction and use (e.g. Bellamy, 1996; B dker 1991, 1996). The theory takes an
    activity system as the unit of analysis. This system, as modeled by Engestr m (1987, 1991), is
    comprised of six key elements: the tool; the subject or persons(s) using the tool; the object or focus
    of the activity; the explicit and implicit rules followed in carrying out the activity; the relevant
    community or social grouping in which the activity exists; and the role hierarchy or division of
    labour for carrying out the activity, all of which produce an outcome. The AT approach recognizes
    that the range of activities, communication practices, relationships and coordination it takes to
    accomplish business functions is complex and continually mediated by workers, managers, and
    technological tools.

In their differing but coordinated ways each of the sub-projects in this study will attempt through their
theoretical approaches to place digital identity construction within a specific context This will involve
specifying the local conditions and factors which contribute to the generation, use, recognition (or non-
recognition), and implications of digital identities in the project sites. At the same time, a synthetic
conceptual model of ‗digital identity construction in context‘ will be prototyped and refined over the
three-year course of this research. Drawing mainly on ANT, this model will centrally figure ‗digital
identity,‘ but in relation to the other various recurring actors (human and non-human) that are relevant to
its development and maintenance. The preliminary version of the model will serve as an integrating
framework for the individual case studies, but through empirical testing and successive refinement,
emerge as one of the main research contributions.
                                                                                        CLEMENT p. 17
Methodology – coordinated qualitative case studies

Given the heuristic and exploratory nature of this research, we will use primarily qualitative methods to
generate and analyse data. Qualitative methods are especially appropriate here because the topic of
digital identity construction is not yet well understood and variables are not easily identifiable – we
strive for a contextually nuanced understanding of this topic. Our objective at this stage is to seek
meanings rather than causes; focusing on processes rather than just results.
    We have chosen a case study approach, in which a variety of digital identity constructions in practice
will be examined at close range, with careful attention to locally contingent factors. Such a case study
approach is particularly appropriate since we want to acquire an in-depth understanding of the dynamics
of the environment and the negotiations in which the actors are involved. Such an approach should lead
us towards ―an understanding of what is important about that case within its own world, not so much the
world of researchers and theorists, but its developing issues, contexts, and interpretations" (Stake 1994:
242). We are fortunate in having found as the initial case study sites prime locations that well represent
key aspects of new economy development – a large telecommunications enterprise experimenting with
leading edge mobile technologies with a technically oriented workforce that installs and maintains
advanced telecommunications equipment, call centers of financial institutions offering a range of new
electronically mediated services, and one of the most ambitious attempts by a government anywhere to
develop a biometric smart card identification scheme that would serve as a infrastructural foundation for
a wide range of e-government services.
    The specific qualitative methods will be adapted to the particular sites and include a mix of:
gathering data through direct observation in sites of intensive digitally mediated interactions; interviews
with the main participants; and examination of the documents used in developing the identification
technologies and practices:
  Identity dimensions of wearable computers and Measuring digital individuals at work: Qualitative
    data will be collected using two primary methods: interviews and participant observation. All
    interviews will be voluntary and semi-structured, and will be audio taped. Using semi-structured
    interviews will allow the researchers sufficient latitude to explore specific topics in more detail
    according to the answers and interests of participants, and to tailor the questions in accord with the
    informants responses. In keeping with the University of Toronto‘s requirements for research on
    human subjects, no interviews will be conducted without the explicit informed consent of the
    participant. Furthermore, particular attention will be paid to the privacy of participants and with
    sensitivity to participants concerns about being asked to discuss their workplace while in their
    workplace. In the case of the call centers study, participants will be selected from various levels of
    the call center hierarchy, from front-line workers to management. A similar method will be applied
    to the wearable computers study, where workers from several departments and project managers
    from all the partners involved will be interviewed. We adopt participant observation to obtain a fine-
    grained understanding of employee practices in their usual work environments. In case of the
    wearable computers study, this observation will focus on field technicians using the wearable
    computing technologies while performing their jobs – ―on the road‖ and in customer premises. In the
    call center study, particular attention will be paid to the work environment, measured processes, and
    staff reaction to these factors by watching staff work, observing training classes for call centre
    workers, and listening in on calls with supervisors (with workers‘ knowledge and permission).
  Ontario’s ‘smart’ identification card: Data will be collected from records produced by Ontario
    government during the Ontario Smart Card Project. These records are currently being obtained from
    the government through a large and broad-based FOI request. The process of obtaining the records
    has already begun and has been satisfactory, indicating that sufficient material will be gathered to
    allow researchers a proper understanding of the project. All documentation received through the FOI
    request will be available to researchers in this project.
                                                                                         CLEMENT p. 18

 We will conduct at least two additional case studies, in sites to be determined, to make further
 connections between the various facets of digital identity construction. We will analyse the data
 collected in the individual studies through the process of analytic induction and general case study
 methodology. In analytic induction ―data are collected and analysed in order to create a descriptive
 model that covers all instances … of the problem, event or issue‖ (Gorman & Clayton, 1997, p. 54).
 We expect to achieve this by developing a preliminary model or explanation of digital identity early in
 the project, and then as further data are collected, refine the model accordingly.
    The case studies will be integrated in several ways. As mentioned above, we will develop a
conceptual model of digital identity construction that will both inform and draw on the empirical work.
Annual two-day research workshops will provide the main occasions for presenting research findings,
highlighting the connections and discrepancies between the individual sub-projects, obtaining feedback,
refining the conceptual model, and setting the direction for further research. All the field researchers and
collaborators will be invited to participate. Roger Clarke, the Australian collaborator, is expected to
attend the first and last workshops and contribute to the second annual workshop via the internet-based
tele-collaboration facilities of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at University of Toronto. Regular
local project meetings as well as email distribution and the project web site will enable more informal
collaborations between the annual meetings.

Communication of Results

We will disseminate the research findings in a multi-disciplinary mix of relevant national and
international academic conferences (e.g., the American Anthropological Association (AAA);
Ubicomp 2003, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW‘2004); Participatory Design
(PDC‘2004); Society for Social Studies of Science (4S); Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR),
Internet Society (ISOC); Canadian Association for Information Science (CAIS); Computers, Freedom
and Privacy (CFP)) all of which the research team members have presented papers in previously.
    We will target the following refereed academic journals: Information Society; Ethics &
Information Technology; Information Communication & Society; Media Culture and Society; Science,
Technology, and Human Values; Personal and Ubiquitous Computing; Computer Supported
Cooperative Work; Canadian Journal of Communications; Journal of the American Society of
Information Science; Information Technology and People; Social Studies of Science; Communications
of the ACM, (again most of which we have published in previously).
    The research workshop in the final year of the project will be enlarged by inviting other researchers
active in the digital identity field to participate by presenting their recent work and commenting on the
work of others. The results will be an edited collection to be published by a university press (e.g.
Toronto, or McGill-Queens).
    For the non-academic community, the main policy venue will be the annual National Policy
Research Conference (Ottawa, in November/December). Our personal policy contacts in the federal
Departments of Industry and Heritage as well as in the Federal and Ontario Privacy Commissions will
also be interested in learning the results of this project and further disseminating them within their
respective institutions.
    Also, the principal investigator and collaborators are frequently approached by print and electronic
media for comment on ICT and identity-related events. This research will provide useful materials for
such interviews and will likely be of media interest in its own right.
    The description and reported findings of this project will become a prominent part of the existing
Information Policy Research Program (IPRP) website, which has become an internationally recognized
repository of materials in several aspects of information policy, notably universal access.
                                                                                          CLEMENT p. 19
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                                                                                           CLEMENT p. 23
   Research Team

  Andrew Clement (Principal Investigator) Professor, Faculty of Information Studies; Director,
  Collaborative Graduate Program in Knowledge Media Design, University of Toronto.

    I have been conducting qualitative field studies of information systems use and development since
the early 1980s. I have also supervised several graduate thesis projects and more than 100 course
projects involving similar field studies. In this research program, I will take overall responsibility for the
day to day research direction and the final project results. In consultation with other members of the
research team, I will develop and refine the conceptual model of digital identity constructions as well as
oversee the informant recruiting criteria and strategies, the interview protocols, the analysis methods,
publication and presentation venues, project web site maintenance and financial priorities. This will be
linked to the ongoing supervision of the dissertation work of my PhD students involved in the project.
Each year I will convene a two-day research project workshop for the full team as well as a small
number of other directly interested local colleagues and graduate students. This will give all members an
opportunity to present and discuss their research as well as to set the project direction for the coming

   Roger Clarke (Collaborator) Principal, Xamax Consultancy; Visiting Fellow, Australian
   National University

Roger Clarke is one of the world‘s leading experts on information privacy, dataveillance (a term he
coined), information infrastructure and electronic commerce more generally. A prolific author, his web
site containing well over 1000 individual documents, mainly of his own writings, is a prominent
international resource on these topics, receiving on average 2.5 million hits per annum. See: His role in this research will be to advise on the
development of the conceptual model of digital identity construction and assist the field researchers as
needed. He is expected to attend the annual research workshops held in Toronto in the first and third
years, and participate via teleconferencing in the workshop in the second year, and supported in doing

   David Lyon (Collaborator) Professor, Sociology Department, Queens University

David Lyon‘s research, writing, and teaching interests revolve around major social transformations in
the modern world. Questions of the information society, globalization, secularization, surveillance, and
postmodernity all feature prominently in his work. The main currents of Lyon‘s work concern the
emergence of so-called information societies and in particular the social origins and consequences of
processing personal data - that is, surveillance - including digital, video, biometric, and genomic data.
He is a leading scholar in the emerging field of surveillance studies, having authored or edited several of
the principal academic books on the subject. He is research director of an international Surveillance
Project based at Queen‘s, investigating surveillance, risk management, and social ordering in global
information societies. Lyon will contribute to this project mainly by sharing his current research work.
This will valuably complement our project‘s case studies as well as assist in refining the integrative
conceptual model. To help with research sharing, he is expected to bring one or two of his graduate
students with him to the annual research workshops.
                                                                                        CLEMENT p. 24
1.4 Training (Role of Students)

The training of PhD and Masters students at the Faculty of Information Studies is central to this research
project. They will be involved in all aspects of the work – research design, informant recruiting,
interviewing, analysis and writing up results – and assisted as necessary throughout in mastering the
relevant skills. As with previous projects, student collaborators will be recognized as co-authors on
published works and supported in traveling to conferences to present their work (see the Contributions
to Training section of my CV which follows).
    The main role for PhD students will be conducting the case studies that are central to their
dissertation research while highlighting the connections to the common themes of digital identity
construction. I am already supervising the research of the initial three proposed PhD students:

Ana Viseu (Identity dimensions of wearable computing) began her Ph.D. in 1999 at the Ontario Institute
 for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She is a McLuhan Fellow. She has been working with
 me (PI) for 18 months on the Everyday Internet project (see next section). However, her thesis
 research is not related to this project, but rather explores the development and implementation of body
 worn communication technologies. Her fieldwork examines Bell Canada‘s implementation of
 wearable computers, focusing on the visions that drive the design of the technology, and the mutual
 adaptation process that technology and users undergo as they interact.
Brenda McPhail (Measuring digital individuals in call centers) has been working with me on her PhD
 since 1997, interrupted by two extended maternity leaves, and before that as a Masters student. Her
 thesis work focuses on issues of accountability and workplace relations in call centres of financial
 organizations as they are being transformed via the increasing reliance on electronically mediated
 service transactions. Her fieldwork involves extensive participant observation in call centers and
 interviews with frontline.
Krista Boa (Ontario’s ‘smart’ identification card) is currently working with me on her Master‘s thesis,
 which examines the Ontario Government‘s recent attempt to develop a biometric ―smart card‖. We
 expect this work to be complete in Spring 2003. She will apply to the PhD program at FIS for next
 year and plans to focus her doctoral studies on a deeper examination of the identity technologies,
 privacy implications and public policy processes involved in such a large scale identification schemes.

It is very likely that the first two of these PhD students will graduate during the course of this research
project. However, there should be no difficulty in recruiting other PhD students to work on the two
further case studies of digital identity construction. The PhD program at FIS has more than 40
candidates currently enrolled and regularly attracts well qualified applicants interested in doing studies
of information use and policy. My role as the Director of the Collaborative Graduate Program in
Knowledge Media Design also puts me in a good position to attract PhD students to this project from
other collaborating units at the University of Toronto.
     I also expect to recruit Stuart Bailey, a newly enrolled Masters student with working experience and
research interests in privacy and identification technologies, to work on this research project for his
thesis. While the particular topic has not been settled on, we have begun discussing a possible focus on
computerized building entry devices (e.g. card activated door locks) that produce an individually
identified trail of time and location data. Recruiting other Masters students as needed should be no
difficulty since there are over 200 Masters students enrolled at FIS and from prior experience plenty are
keen and able to do this type of work. Even without being hired as salaried research assistants, I expect
that some Masters students will be interested in working with this project for their own thesis research as
well as part of their course work. A graduate elective course that I teach, FIS 2165 – Social Issues with
Information and Communications Technologies, has a significant component on identity technologies.
This research will provide useful teaching materials as well as offer the basis for term projects.
                                                                                       CLEMENT p. 25
1.5 Previous and On-Going Research Results

SSHRC: Developing Information Policies for Canada’s Information Infrastructure
     This was a three year collaborative project funded in 1995 by SSHRC‘s Strategic Grants Program in
the area of Science and Technology Policy, and served as the foundation for the on-going Information
Policy Research Program (IPRP), based at the Faculty of Information Studies. Through its partnership
connections with several federal government departments, most notably Industry Canada, Canadian
Heritage, Human Resources Development Canada, this lead to a series of related projects oriented to
developing various aspects of Canadian access strategy. A major academic result was the development
of the ‗access rainbow‘, a seven layered model of information infrastructure (Clement and Shade,
2000), which has been found useful by other researchers in discussing specific aspects of ‗access‘
beyond the conventional focus on connectivity. Other work has contributed to understanding the notion
‗universality‘ in light of Canadian policy over the past century, the emergence of electronic cash as a
part of Canadian national information infrastructure, the role of public interest organizations in access
policy, and the comparison of Canadian ‗information highway‘ policies with those of other countries,
notably the US.
    On the policy development front, we convened a series of three policy workshops that brought
federal policy officials together with academic and public interest policy researchers for intensive, two
and a half day discussions. These culminated in the formulation of Key Elements of a National Access
Strategy: A Public Interest Proposal, which we publicly presented to the Federal Ministers of Industry
and Heritage in 1998. This also lead to contributions to official recommendations to the Minister of
Health concerning access to Canada‘s ‗health infostructure‘, and to the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Hearings on New Media. (see Final Productivity Report for
the SSHRC funded strategic project - Developing Information Policies for Canada’s Information
Infrastructure, and the IPRP website:

SSHRC: Electronic Representation of Workers Project
     This SSHRC Standard Research grant was funded for three years in 1996, and extended by a one
year research grant from the Bell Canada University Laboratories, entitled ―User modeling methods and
tools applied to Persona agents. Assessment of personal and social implications of the use of persona
technology‖. The research focused on exploring how the identities of workers in intensively
computerized workplaces were shaped by interactions with the information systems, their managers and
their co-workers. On the conceptual front, we elaborated Clarke‘s notions of a ‗digital persona‘, to
make it applicable to workplace settings and its relationship to software agents. Empirically the work
has been based on participant observation in the call centres of two major financial institutions. Our
main finding is that computerized systems, especially for the detailed monitoring of work, can play a
significant role on how much influence workers exercise in presenting themselves to relevant others
(clients, co-workers and supervisors). However, even with fine-grained tracking systems, there are
multiple, conventional ways still available for self-presentation, and that managerial norms and practices
are more decisive factors than technological features of the computer systems in the formation of
workplace identities. The PhD dissertation work related to this project on accountability practices in
financial call centres will resume shortly.
    This project work has mainly been presented at workshops and conferences in Canada and
internationally (US, UK, Denmark, Norway and Hungary). (see Final Productivity Report for the
SSHRC funded project - Electronic Representation of Workers
                                                                                       CLEMENT p. 26
On-going projects

SSHRC - Everyday Experiences with Networked Services
This three year Standard Research project was funded in 2001. This research seeks to inform active
Canadian policy debates by investigating qualitatively how regular internet users experience on-line
services in the context of their everyday lives. The ethnographic fieldwork is being conducted in a
downtown Toronto neighbourhood that offers a variety of modes of internet access and that well reflects
the socio-economic and ethnic diversity of Canadian society along many of the key demographic
dimensions of digital divide debates. Preliminary research results addressing mainly the issues of
privacy and domestic versus public access to internet services, have been presented at conferences in
Ottawa, Oxford (Clement, Aspinall, Viseu, & Suchman, 2002) and Maastricht (Clement, Aspinall, Viseu
& Shade, 2002; Viseu, Clement & Aspinall, 2002).

SSHRC - Toward an Evaluation Framework for Community Learning Networks
This one year Initiative for the New Economy (INE) Development Grant was funded in June 2002, and
work has only just begun. In collaboration with community and governmental partners we have worked
with in previous projects, this research project will formulate and test some of the key methods that can
constitute an effective evaluation framework of Community Learning Networks (CLN) across Canada.
It will provide the basis for a subsequent major INE grant proposal.
                                                                                        CLEMENT p. 27
Request for adjudication by Committee 15

This research is appropriately multi-disciplinary in several important respects:

Central topic

‗Digital identity construction‘ explicitly brings together social and technical phenomena so inextricably
bound up with each other that no single disciplinary perspective can do it justice.

Research team

The principal investigator and one of the collaborators (Clarke) hold PhD‘s in Computer Science, while
the other collaborator (Lyon) is a Sociologist. The PhD candidates conducting the case studies bring
relevant educational backgrounds in English, Communications, Library and Information Science, and

The project is based in the Faculty of Information Studies and the Knowledge Media Design Institute at
University of Toronto, both of which publicly identify themselves as multi-disciplinary, reflecting the
diverse range of their faculty members


The literatures cited in this proposal alone give a good indication of the disciplinary range of this
research. In addition to drawing from such interdisciplinary fields as Cultural Studies, Science and
Technology Studies, Gender Studies and Information Studies, the books and articles cited above reflect
such disciplines as Sociology, Management, Education, Computer Science, Political Economy, and


The qualitative methods draw principally on anthropological traditions (notably ethnography), but also
require an appreciation of the technical characteristics of the devices, databases and interfaces used
implicated in the digital identity construction.

None of the other SSHRC Committees fit all these various facets of the research well.
Therefore, we request that this proposal be adjudicated by Committee 15.

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