Dissertation Information for Amber L. Cushing
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Possessions and self extension in digital environments: Implications for maintaining personal information
Abstract: This research explores individuals' relationships with their personal digital information through the concepts of digital possessions and self extension. Two studies were conducted. In the first study, twenty-three participants were interviewed about their definitions of digital possessions and digital legacies, and about their connections to their personal digital information. In the second study, forty-eight participants were asked to conduct three Q sorting tasks in order to gain a better understanding of their thoughts and opinions regarding self extension to digital possessions and maintaining digital possessions for a digital legacy. Findings revealed that digital possessions: (1) provide evidence about the individual, (2) represent the individual's identity, (3) are recognized by the individual as having value and, (4) provide a sense of bounded control. Self extension to digital possessions exists on a multilayered spectrum consisting of the characteristics of self extension to possessions, possession attachment, and use. Finally, participants used "archival logic" when maintaining digital possessions, preferring characteristics that describe primary and/or secondary values of digital possessions. Results have implications for the tools, strategies, and methods archival professionals use when helping people create and maintain digital legacies.
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