Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 19-25

First online:

Shrinking selves in synthetic sites: On personhood in a Walt Disney World

  • Charles W. HarveyAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Religion, University of Central Arkansas
  • , Carol ZibellAffiliated withCDI, IBM

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In this essay we show how certain tendencies of theself are enhanced and hindered by technologicallyorganized places. We coordinate a cognitive andbehavioral technology for the control of personalidentity with the technologically totalizedenvironments that we call “synthetic sites.” Weproceed by describing Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi'sstrategy for intensifying experience and organizingthe self. Walt Disney World is then considered as theexample, par excellence, of a synthetic sitethat promotes ordered experience via self-shrinkage. Finally, we reflect briefly on problems andpossibilities of human life lived in a world that canbe described with increasing accuracy as “anarchipelago of synthetic sites.”

Csikszentmihalyi self self-shrinkage synthetic sites