The Widgetized Self and the MacBook Reading Club

Beauty Parlour #10

27 Mar 2008

Anne Helmond, a new media lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, spoke about the increasing popularity of widgets and what this means for the identity of the blog and the blogger.


MacBook Reading Club -

The Widgetized Self

Blogs are often seen as a continuation of the homepage. The classical homepage was a fairly static representation and a self-contained unit expressing the self. However, in contrast to the homepage the blog expects you to keep up with your constantly changing self. The guilt that some bloggers feel about not regularly updating their blog has led to the phenomenon of apologizing to the blog itself and the reification of the blog.

Blogs may be seen as a practice which includes identity building using different sources. In the distributed network the self is scattered around the network and may be found on YouTube, Flickr and other services. The blog plays a central role in centralizing the distributed self. Widgets are used to integrate the networked self into the blog and has constructed a "widgetized self." This widgetized self is visible in the cluttered sidebar which may include recently listened tracks, the lastest Flickr photos or blog statistics.

Blogs are increasingly connected to search engines such as Google and Technorati through the blog software. This leads to practices that focus on identity building through the engines. What does the increasing popularity of widgets mean for the identity of the blog and the blogger? What role do blog software and blog templates play in identity construction?

The term 'Widgetized Self' was coined by Nancy Baym on

The MacBook Reading Club

Digital camera technology advanced ego-photography and ways for selfpresentation. Analogue photography mainly focused on the presentation of others. With exception of the time consuming and error prone self timer, it was very difficult to capture oneself on camera. The "arm-length angle" - taking a snapshot of oneself and possibly a friend with a stretched arm - has taken a leap with the double sided lcd preview screen on digital camera's cameras as well as mobile phones. The web cam advanced camera technology as medium of selfpresentation further. The camera is always directed at the self. The image where the face is shot from a slightly upper angle is known as the "Youtube angle" or "MySpace angle". With the built-in cam and Photobooth software, the first thing one does when installing a new mac is taking a snapshot of the self. MacBook Reading Club takes advantage of Photobooth and the build-in camera. MacBook Reading Club is a new phenomenon in ego-photography, and introduces the "MacBook Reading Club angle". MacBook Reading Club photos can be recognized by their characteristic 90º rotation. With Photobooth open and the MacBook tilted 90º - like a *book* - countdown for a MacBook Reading Club photo starts. Since most people bring their MacBook wherever they go, MacBook Reading Club photos present the opportunity to capture the self in different environments, with and without friends, and upload directly to: