Digital Identity

The concept of digital identity is becoming ever more important in our society. A concept that comes up in discussions of online identity is that of duality, and the idea that one’s online identity may explore feelings and activities that are considered anti-social or are not acceptable in "the real world".

Personally, I don’t think that a person’s online identity should contradict his/her offline identity. I think that we have one identity, that of human beings who are part of complicated connected interrelated systems. Each of us has the responsibility to decide what we will put out in the world, realizing that those decisions show us in a particular way. Every picture that we post online, every post that we write, every product that we create, every comment that we make – each of these convey our beliefs, our attitudes and our attributes. Some might argue that our online identity has even broader reach than our offline identity, given the global nature of the Internet, and we need to take care of it.

Even when we safeguard our digital identity, we may occasionally make poor choices. I remember sharing a story on my blog about riding a motorcycle with two other friends. This was not illegal in India and it was not an uncommon sight, but I later thought about whether that was really a story that I wanted to share with the world. I took down the post but several of my students had already seen it and talked to me about it. In the scale of things, it was relatively easy to recover from that judgement of error. It would have been more difficult if I’d made disparaging comments of a student or colleague.

The nature of the web is such that as soon as you post something online, you lose control of it. Friends and enemies alike can view it, make copies of it, save it, forward it, etc. It’s a good idea to think twice before you post something – think about the impact that it might have on others in your communities, and think about what the post says about you.

Are you comfortable with what a university or employer might find about you on the Internet? Do you think that what you post on the Internet should be a true reflection of who you are? Do you think that universities/employers should be able to access your Facebook page?

Facebook Tells Employers a Lot About You: MyFoxPHOENIX.com


Safer Internet Day 9.2.10

To celebrate safer internet day, the EU’s cyber security agency, ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency), released a 49 page document called Online as soon as it happens available at http://www.enisa.europa.eu/act/ar/deliverables/2010/onlineasithappens. I browsed through much of the document but paid particular attention to Part 5 – Golden Rules. Out of the 17 recommendations, 2 startled me and that are in direct opposition to what many people in my PLN advocate.

Use a pseudonym. Interestingly, I just read Karl Fisch’s post advocating that we let kids post their full names on the web so that they can create a positive digital footprint (http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2009/07/digital-footprint-growth-model.html). The ENISA document is saying stay anonymous. Note that the 17 recommendations given are for everyone, not just students. What do you do? What do you advocate with your students and why?

Do not mix your business contacts with your friend contacts. If schools follow this, the implication is that teachers cannot befriend colleagues and students using the same account that they use with friends. This ENISA rule prohibits communication on social networking sites between teachers and their students.

I wonder if anyone will read these rules and become intimidated by/afraid of social networking sites.