1  Introduction

1.1 What is ipseology?

Ipseology is a word I made up. It refers to the study of ipseity. My definition of ipseity is: personal identity, selfhood and the essential elements of identity.

I want to study ipseity at scale. At scale means with millions of observations covering substantial temporal periods and geographical areas. Think 20 million American users of Twitter over six years to start and growing from there.

Let’s define ipseology as the study of human identity using large datasets and computational social science methods.

1.2 How does one do ipseology research?

Be patient; that’s what this whole book will tell you!

But for a first peek at the potential, let’s look at a fast-growing trend in Twitter profile biographies. Ipseology is ideal for studying temporal trends (i.e. changes in the language individuals use to describe themselves). Look at Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1: Daily prevalence of active US Twitter users with bios containing pronoun lists

I’ll have more to say about how to interpret this figure when I return to writing this chapter. For now, if your interest has been piqued, read the blog post 2022 International Pronouns Day and Twitter Visibility.