This week started to unpack considerations and representations of our identity. We asked you all to open up and share more about yourselves. As a result, we’ve had some interesting themes and questions pop up.
What is a digital identity?
In discussions that I had over the past week many of you have been questioning exactly what do we mean by a “digital identity”?
Wikipedia describes your digital identity as:
Digital identity is the data that uniquely describes a person or a thing and contains information about the subject’s relationships. The social identity that an internet user establishes through digital identities in cyberspace is referred to as online identity.
I also recommend reading the following white paper by Hal Abelson and Larry Lessig in which they define/discuss your digital identity in cyberspace. Stacy Koosel also discusses the challenges between your public and private versions of your digital identity.
One of the challenges in understanding your digital identity is thinking about where it exists. Previously, we held this misguided belief that there was a difference between online and offline. Now, in the Post-Snowden era of the Internet, we now understand that governments, businesses, and others are harvesting our online data, and tracking us. That being said, I think we can (and should) create and curate our online brand. If you have things about you online that you don’t want others to know (we’ve all got baggage) then do something about it. Start up a blog. Create, share, and promote information that helps define the type of identity you want to promote. I think there are challenges now in the future when we use the Internet in literacy practices, but it’s our duty to educate, empower, and advocate for our students that are in these online spaces.
People sharing and opening up
It been really cool to see all of you continue to open up and share what makes you special. We’ve seen a ton of images, websites, blogs, poems, videos, audio, etc. Many of you are sharing your offline images of your tattoos to help develop your online, or digital tattoo.
Sometimes it can be a rick to think about what to share…and what not to share. At the end of last week I shared a stupid photo of me goofing off with some money. The fact that I’m goofing off, acting, and there’s photo or video evidence of it is not a big deal. The fact that I would actively share this online IS the challenge. I spent a lot of time thinking before, and after I sent that photo wondering if it will come to bite me in the butt. At the end of the day, I reached out to a couple people that I know and trust to give me a honest opinion. The indicated that they liked the photo, that it humanized me, and helped accentuate my digital identity. I still do wonder. 🙂
What effect do online actions & identity have on offline interactions?
The colleague that I referenced in the beginning of the blog post asked me if others are considering what effect their online actions and things that we share affect their offline, or everyday lives. I indicated that I have, and some of my students have expressed concerns about what sharing content online would do for potential employers. I know that I currently have my name out online for a couple of things, and there are people that might be reading this words right now and viewing my silly photos that I share.
The question that students in my classes have been asking is…what happens if I don’t get hired for a job because of what I share. I think this should be in the back of our minds as a consideration. For the most part, the response that a peer usually quickly offers is that the position or place might not be a place you want to be. The challenge is that I’m living and interacting in the northeast of the U. S. My students are working in schools in the northeast…and many will continue to live and work in the region.
We now have many people joining us from around the globe in the #WalkMyWorld Project. It’s totally awesome to see people sharing from Japan, Europe, South America, and rugby matches. One thing that really hit home in a discussion this week is that many of us are privileged in what we’re allowed to express and share. In discussions with my colleague and friend, we discussed recent events in which people in that country were tracked, jailed, and in one case killed for what they share online. It’s easy for me to spout ideas about opening up and sharing your thoughts online, but for some the challenge might be more severe than not getting a job.
Let us celebrate and exercise our freedoms. Let us also remember that freedom is not equal for all. I’ll continue to reach out and work, play, and share online. I’ll also work to educate, empower, and advocate for others in online spaces. I think you should join me in helping out others that might be walking in worlds unlike our own.
Thanks again for pushing my thinking…and sharing online. I look forward to seeing how everyone connects in the next learning event.
Cover image CC BY-NC 2.0 Winston Vargas
Top image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Tom Beardshaw
Middle image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Pictoquotes
Bottom image CC BY 2.0 IssacMao