This chapter examines digital self-presentation as it has evolved from the first personal homepages, which were dependent on programming skills and imagination. There were no templates, no norms and no rules in early Cyberia. As templates evolved for creating personal websites, the barriers to participation lowered. We argue that the emergence of elaborate templates and increased scripting encourage less technologically savvy authors to join in digital self-presentation. Further, the software applications that rely most heavily on the corporeal self have enjoyed the largest participation growth. We discuss how digital self-presentation has changed with the development of more user-friendly sites. Also, we take a case study approach and consider three consumers’ personal websites as they migrated from early personal websites to more constrained templates. The digital self we examine here emerged roughly 20 years ago in a blaze of potential glory

when the first consumers colonized Cyberia with personal homepages. Assisted by online companies like GeoCities and Earthlink which offered free webspace and publishing tools in exchange for advertising banner displays (Papacharissi 2002), early personal homepages were always “under construction,” most often with the conspicuous and popular yellow icon prominently displayed, so that the audience knew the site was a work-in-progress reflecting the owner’s latest self-conception (Doring 2002). The first personal websites were highly variable in terms of aesthetics but quite consistent in terms of content. Early studies indicate that these website creators adopted elements from others’ home pages when assembling their own site. While it has been called “a medium of nearly unrestricted self-presentation” (ibid., p. 17), these digital self-presentations were unified in their reliance on real-world markers of identity (name, educational achievements, occupation, professional accomplishments, family, and even physical appearance) and on their communicative intent, or their purpose as self-presentation vehicles

(Schau and Gilly 2003). In the early days of personal webspace, authors had to be highly technologically savvy with Internet access and programming skills, or hire someone with that access and those skills. As technology developed, Internet access increased and the social practice of digital self-presentation evolved, easy-to-use templates became available, norms developed and nearly anyone with Internet access could create and share a digital self-presentation within minutes. The introduction of the first Social Networking Site (SNS), Classmates.com in 1995, and the rise of blogging platforms like LiveJournal in the early 2000s lessened the creation of personal webpages (Davies 2010). While the location of online self-presentation was evolving from personal webpages to SNS and blogs, more consumers, and less tech-savvy ones, entered Cyberia with impression management in mind. This chapter examines the evolution of personal webspace as a form of digital self-

presentation from freeform personal homepages to the highly structured templates popular today in blogging (blogger and wordpress) and on SNS (Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter). We argue that personal webspace is even more explicitly driven by communicative intent, invites collaboration (which is embedded in the medium itself), and remains anchored in corporeal reality.