Dr. Judith Donath to present at the 2014 Lucile Kelling Henderson Lecture

September 22, 2014 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Wilson Library, Pleasants Room

How online identity has been handled over time will be the subject of the 2014 annual Lucile Kelling Henderson Lecture hosted by the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The lecture, which is titled, "Interface and Identity,” will feature Dr. Judith Donath, a Faculty Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

A reception will follow the formal presentation. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.


Making sense of other people – and managing the impression we make upon them -- forms the foundation of community. Online, design shapes how we do this, e.g., whether we see another’s face or name, and whether that name is permanent and verified or changes on a whim. To understand what sort of society we want in the future and how to design for it, we need to understand what has worked, or not, in the past. This talk will trace the history of how identity has been handled online -- from the early days of named, work-based accounts, to the techno-utopian imaginings of the 1990s and up to today’s embedded networks and real name debates – assessing how various implementations affect privacy, security and sociability. This talk will examine how we can build future interfaces that encourage cooperation while also providing greater autonomy and control.

About Dr. Judith Donath

Judith Donath synthesizes knowledge from urban design, evolutionary biology and cognitive science to design innovative interfaces for on-line communities and virtual identities. A Harvard Berkman Faculty Fellow and formerly director of the MIT Media Lab's Sociable Media Group, she is known internationally for her writing on identity, interface design, and social communication. She is the creator of many pioneering online social applications; her work and that of the Sociable Media Group have been shown in museums and galleries worldwide. She is the author of “The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online” (MIT Press, 2014). Her current research focuses on how we signal identity in both mediated and face-to-face interactions, and she is working on a book about how the economics of honesty shape our world.

She received her doctoral and master's degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and her bachelor's degree in History from Yale University.