This week’s topic on “Online participation and digital literacies” focused on getting us to think about our own identity in the online space. In our own PBL group, someone asked, how did you start moving into the digital space, and how did your identity evolve over the years. That set me thinking! What is my own digital identity? How do I present myself in the online space? How much personal information do I share online? Do I have concerns about how my personal information is used?
The internet society (ISOC, 2011) illustrates the various different identities called partial identities, based on how we present ourselves online (illustration below).
Image credit: internetsociety.org
My own online identity and interactions differ on different social network platforms. I present myself differently on Facebook compared to what I would on the LinkedIn space; and similarly have different online persona on the Google+ community, the Academia community, the ScoopIt community. And so, the Visitor-Resident metaphor (White & Cornu, 2011) resonates well with me (though I am a digital immigrant). Clearly, I am a visitor on some spaces using it as a tool for a specific purpose, while at other times I become a resident spending time online interacting and socialising.
However, even though we intend to keep our professional and personal identities apart, it is common to see these boundaries getting blurred as you give out bits and pieces of your personal life in the professional spaces, and vice-versa. Search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) also create a persona for you based on your own actions and interactions within that space. We are often presented with information that is suits us based on the tracking and monitoring that happens.
Thus, our own partial identities are the outcome of a self-created filter bubble through our own filtering and personalisation. Pariser (2011) claims that these filter bubbles create a world that rarely challenges your own ideas and views and that “there’s nothing to learn!” I am not convinced by his claims though. There’s always an opportunity for new learning, to discover more. Yes, many of us might have concerns about sharing of personal information in the online space, particularly when personal information shared intentionally in one platform gets used in ways you didn’t intend in other spaces. But that does not stop us from protecting our privacy, learning how to preserve it, and be aware of it.
We are not in an age and time, where no one knew if we were a dog or a real person! Let’s be aware, and enjoy our online learning journey with passion.
Internet Society (2011). Understanding your Online Identity: An Overview of Identity.
https://www.internetsociety.org/sites/default/files/Understanding your Online Identity An Overview of Identity.pdf .
Parsier, E. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You. Penguin Press. (New York, May 2011).
White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).