Project description

Streaming Egos – Digital Identities

A project of the Goethe-Institut in South West Europe in cooperation with the Slow Media Institut in Bonn and the NRW-Forum in Dusseldorf.

Project idea

‘Who am I’? – This is a core question of humanity that has always expressed itself in social, political and cultural forms. The question ‘Who am I?’ and its closely linked deviation ‘Who do I want to be (or: who am I supposed to be)?’ play an essential role in the domains of philosophy, economy, ethics, theology and politics. As does its collective version ‘Who are we?’ – as a social group or a nation, as Europeans.

This project intends to investigate how this core question of humanity takes shape, changes, and evolves under the influence of digital media. How does digital communication shape or create our desires and the idea of who we are? Are there any country-specific questions and solutions? Is the internet a global “mainstreamer” or does national and transnational discourse offer room for individual and collective singularity and peculiarity? What’s the role of South West Europe in all of this?

Any user of digital media is a medial prosumer, that means reader and author, recipient and sender, consumer and inventor at the same time and therefore also an inventor of himself or herself. The digital ego is active, agile, and creative, because self-presentation is increasingly combined with artistic activities: in visual-textual memes, in internet videos, in “selfies” staging the real life. Using the Internet, we can define the image of ourselves more clearly than we could in pre-digital times. Everyone can createa virtual image of themselves asthey desire. At the same time, there is the wish to speak “as oneself,” – especially in a virtual environment.  Our true self cannot escape the temptation to reveal itself, notwithstanding any issues of privacy and data protection.

A digital infrastructure, such as the Internet, with all of its mechanisms and meme-oriented communication, also allows for the construction of a new collective. Now solidarity can evolve not only on the basis of nationality, language and origins, but also by sharing common signs and symbols, by communicating and being part of a digital discourse.


We want to encourage, develop, analyze, and present debates and artistic activities of “digital identity” in each nation. The national discourse will then transform into a transnational one and enable a European perspective on individual and collective identities and how these might develop along with the potential of digital culture.

Target Groups

  • Internet researchers, web artists, digital writers, and internet activists
  • Experts of all disciplines interested in or dealing with the subject
  • Anyone interested in the subject and in following the development of the project online


The project intends to form groups with representatives of each nation. The participants are people from various disciplines: net culture, arts, music, literature, and politics. Every participant serves as a link to the different social and artistic areas. We will be looking for and trying to expand common ground between these groups. In a dynamic and participative process, the national groups will then generate theme and interest groups.

The goal of this is to reproduce structures and mechanisms of digital social media in real life. Communication in and outside of the groups will be supported by the social, participative digital technology of the platform. Not only will the platform collect the group results for everyone to see and comment, it also offers the possibility to work, write, and post in teamwork spaces and communicate in a social network/microblogging tool (twitter stream). The “identities” project will consequently become a place for communication and exchange, linking digital and analog life.


Phase I

Formation of the groups in different countries. The participants meet in work camps, choose an “identity”-related theme (see suggestions above) and experiment and develop it. They are free to interpret and expand these themes as they wish and adapt them in their own (country-specific?) manner. The “digital identities”-platform supports them in their creative work, enables them to communicate professionally and see the bigger picture.

The goal of this group work is to produce (digital or non-digital) creative works to be presented at the “Convention”.

These “finalprojects”/milestones of phase 1could be a series of films, interviews, e-books, EPUBs, comics, presentations/PechaKuchas or plays, dances, performances, apps or twitter streams. They can be created in the participants’ native language or in English, if necessary with subtitles or summaries in English.

Phase II

The groups meet at a central convention taking place in the context of the exhibition “Ego Updates” at the NRW-Forum in Dusseldorf. The exhibition will deal with the “selfie”/”digital identities”-theme. The groups will present their “final project”/milestone. The participants meet each other in person and will be able to share their experiences in real life. In an open, participative process (barcamp or similar), the participants will then work out the aspects of their milestones that they consider most important. These will be set as the future themes which will be worked on by newly formed transnational digital groups.

Phase III

The projects are collected and documented on the central platform so that different aspects and perspectives of the “digital identities”-theme can converge. English is the main language on the platform, but the participants may post articles in their own language. Moderators support the communication by providing summaries. The future themes worked out at the Convention will be refined in (now transnational) digital discussion groups. At various conferences on net culture (such as re:publica, startcamp, transmediale), the projects and creative works will be presented. We hope the platform can be a place for everyone to get a glimpse of the individual countries’ works and to take part in transnational discussions. The platform will allow room for feedback and debate and thereby guarantee the sustainability of the project. Additionally, the groups’ final projects will be turned into a common final work (exhibition, film, installation, etc.) and shown in the participating countries Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The project is curated by Sabria David, Slow Media Institut, Bonn
Project manager: Ulla Wester, Goethe-Institut Paris