Topic 2 – Reflection

This week’s topic of online identity provided controversy, intangible ideas and a host of new terms. I felt slightly daunted at the prospect of structuring my post around a topic which, even after substantial reading, still mystified me. I tried to sustain a coherent discussion by focusing on identities through the lens of online security and privacy, exploring how much control a user has over their identity.

I enjoyed experimenting with creating and embedding videos into WordPress; this medium really helped to clarify aspects of online identity, whether through hearing a TedTalk expert explain it out, or by making a Powtoon to communicate the ideas in a more engaging and accessible way.

I was reassured by the variety displayed across other bloggers’ posts, as this demonstrated the breadth of the topic; everyone had a slightly different understanding of what constituted an online identity and therefore multiple identities. Naturally, this sparked several mini debates on branching issues such as authenticity versus anonymity, data mining and digital wellbeing.

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Figure 1: Development of my Topic 2 learning

Rebecca took the ideas in my post about identity in relation to personal online security and applied them to concerns for national security. We discussed the troubling contemporary issue of how we may have to jeopardise the privacy of our social media accounts and confidential online identities, or risk terrorist activity being conducted more freely.

In her impressive post, Patricia explained that her online social presence was split into multiple identities. I challenged her to consider that she may have jumped to conclusions as it appeared a singular profile was pervading across her chosen platforms. The subsequent discussion aided both our understandings and emphasised the fact that online identities can be interpreted in different ways.

This week, it was reading and commenting on other blogs which really helped me to think through the topic and become much clearer on what constitutes an online identity, a topic much more complex than it first appears.

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Figure 2: Pros of different states of online identity

Word count: 319

Comments

Rebecca’s post

Patricia’s post

Figure references

Figure 1: Self-produced using Piktochart

Figure 2: Self-produced using Microsoft PowerPoint

Online identities: are you in control?

The birth of cyberspace provided ‘a new space for the re-construction of the self as a new persona or even personas’  through a wide range of services and platforms (Costa & Torres, 2011). The ability to establish multiple online identities can appeal to users who want to remain anonymous (using pseudonyms) or, for example, want to separate their personal social life from their online professional sphere. However, our disparate online activity leaves a fragmentary but traceable digital footprint.

This animation presents one of the consequences:

The more partial identities you have, the more complete and valuable profile businesses can build of you. So, in actual fact, there is a loss of anonymity. I believe that there is little harm in targeted advertising as it improves consumer experience; it is the lack of control or knowledge users possess over their own personal data that is the central concern.

Multiple online identities can cause further insecurity when they are not adequately protected. If account passwords are predictable (as most unfortunately are), or the same password is used for multiple accounts, individuals are exposed to identity theft (Internet society).

From a professional perspective, keeping multiple identities is counterproductive for networking and can appear untrustworthy to potential employers, in a world where, increasingly, our online identity can have implications on our real life (jetsetshow, 2010).

Please watch 5:44 to 6:37.

On the other side of the coin, Alex Schoof argues for the dangers of a ‘heavyweight’ single identity, which, although convenient for quick authentication on new websites, means users can no longer separate or control different facets of their online lives.

An artificial intelligence article questions whether technology is in fact taking our identity away entirely; a terrifying thought! It discusses new developments in facial recognition technology and the possibilities this holds for optimal advertising campaigns, suggesting the next intrusive stage on from the one presented in the animation. Google is interested in the technology for intelligent image searching; compiling a life history of public images of an individual (Dormehl, 2014). This constitutes data mining and could truly expose users’ online identities in a manner that they might consider a breach of privacy.

It seems the more digitally advanced and interconnected we become, whether that be through multiple identities or an overarching singular profile, the more vulnerable our online security and privacy. Luckily for us, the future is looking more positive as the relevant jurisdiction and technological infrastructure play catch up (Internet Society).

Word count: 408

References

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação e Tecnologias, 47-53.

Dormehl, L. (2014). https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/04/facial-recognition-technology-identity-tesco-ethical-issues The Observer

Internet Society. Online Identity Overview. Protecting your privacy. Protecting your identity.

jetsetshow. (2010). 7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity Youtube.

Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? The Guardian.

Schoof, A. (2015). Identity Risk: The Danger of a Single Identity | Alex Schoof | TEDxHerndon Youtube.

Images & Videos

Featured image:  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/04/facial-recognition-technology-identity-tesco-ethical-issuescredit credit to The Guardian.

Animation: self-produced using PowToon.

Topic 1 – Reflection

Interacting with other students on the course really brought the topic to life. The process of reading and commenting on a range of blog posts provided me with a richer understanding of the digital Visitors and Residents concept. This led me to form my own opinions and challenge some of the statements in Cherie’s blog.

Through my reading I observed that those who had succinctly covered the topic by combining images, infographics and videos with concise explanations, had space left to put a personal spin on their post, creating a more original and engaging response within the constraints of the word count. For example, Cherie pointed out the popularity of Instagram among the socially Resident and Jordan embedded a video which added an immigrant perspective on the topic.

I felt inspired both by the blogs of others and the discussion generated on my own blog (particularly Emily’s suggestions), to visually represent my own online identity using White’s axis. This definitely gave me an improved understanding of how to apply the Visitors and Residents metaphor. My initial post ended by focusing on the complexities of White’s theory and the ambiguous online approaches of the future, so it felt good to gain some clarity towards the end of the topic.

visitors-and-residents-image-2

The infographic is significantly more useful than the one in my initial post. It shows me that I have a reasonably balanced online approach incorporating Visitor and Resident approaches for Personal and Institutional purposes. The bottom right quadrant (Institutional/Resident) is the one I have only more recently ventured into as a young adult, and am looking to develop during the module.

The past two weeks have a formed a fast-paced introduction to ‘Living and Working on the Web’ and I am looking forward to the new challenges posed by Topic 2!

Comment on Cherie’s blog available here and Jordan’s here.

Word count: 3o7

‘digital residents’ & ‘digital visitors’: what’s your online approach?

Digital ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’ form a metaphor for people’s engagement with online technology.

Residents live a part of their life online. They use the Web for work, study and recreation; they are comfortable expressing themselves and their opinions in online communities and maintain a digital identity through social networking sites (White, 2008).

Visitors are those who use the Web more sparingly and selectively. They have a functional approach, setting time aside to perform specific tasks such as booking a holiday and afterwards disengaging. Visitors have little interest in and are sceptical of online culture (White, 2008).

These terms were created to update Prensky’s initial concept of digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ (2001). Prensky categorised digital users by drawing a connection between computing competence and age: those born in the digital age were privileged learners able to absorb the digital language naturally as they grew up, unlike older learners whose age supposedly handicapped them.

White (2011) challenged the metaphor underlying Prensky’s theory, arguing that learning technological skills is not so similar to learning a second language. This followed a general shift from thinking about a digital language to an idea of digital literacy.

For me, a Resident describes my Aunt, and a Visitor my brother. My Aunt has a busy London lifestyle and is always engaging with social media, she also maintains a professional online profile as a popular published Nutritionist with a website and blog. In contrast, my brother is suspicious of social media and keeps a very low online profile. He is, however, very technologically able, but while he uses his ability for learning and entertainment, he retains a classically Visitor status. This proves the complexity of individual digital literacy and forms a contrasting example to Prensky’s age theory.

White (2014) asserts that Resident and Visitor are not binaries but form opposite ends of a spectrum, on which most people fall somewhere in between, adopting ‘resident modes’ and ‘visitor modes’ alternatively. While I find this reasoning much more open-minded than the previous theory, how to analyse my own digital identity remains unclear. Furthermore, I am unsure of the most desirable position on the spectrum. White (2008) states that ‘Both sides of this argument are correct… it’s a question of approach and motivation’. He certainly forms an interesting and ambivalent distinction, which refuses to be based upon age, gender, or even skill.

It will be interesting to observe the next metaphoric update in the development of the digital world.

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Word count: 408

References

Harris, L., Warren, L., Leah, J., & Ashleigh, M. (2010) Small steps across the chasm: Ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the university sector. Education Technology & Social Media (Special Issue, Part 2), 16(1).

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On The Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

White, D. (2008). Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. TALL blog.

White, D. (2014). Visitors and Residents (video). University of Oxford.

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).

Images

Featured Image. https://speechdudes.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/digital-native.jpg.

Infographic. Made in Microsoft Word.

 

 

 

My digital genesis

‘The nature of knowledge is changing and, in this digital age, our definition of basic literacy urgently needs expanding’ (The Guardian, 2011)

By choosing to study the award-winning module ‘Living and Working on the Web’ at university, I am endeavouring to improve my digital literacy in our ever more digital society.

Despite the assumption that the younger generation are more technically able, I feel I am severely lacking the knowledge and understanding to make the most of the wealth of digital tools and online networks on offer. I am accustomed to passive online consumption, but I want to be able to actively create and handle my own digital material. This is not only of personal importance to me, but also professional, as I am aspiring to a career in Marketing; a part of the communications industry which is increasingly online in focus.

I took a self test to construct my current digital profile:

*1 = no experience 5 = very experienced

Rating at start of module                                 Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information            3 My degree has developed my research ability and critical skills; I have some experience in extracting and evaluating online material.
Participating in online communities           2 I have Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat accounts which I use regularly but would like to engage more with professional platforms and online learning communities.
Building online networks around an area of interest            1 I have never established a network around an area of interest, blogging or otherwise, so am excited at the prospect of starting a WordPress website and building a network of interest around the course topics with other students.
Collaborating with others on shared projects           3 I have worked on group presentations and projects as part of my degree. I find collaborative work to be a challenging but rewarding way of working.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video)           2 As part of my Art Foundation I worked with video software and manipulated images on Photoshop. I found the tools difficult to get to grips with and would need more practice to develop my skills. I am looking forward to experimenting with Powtoons and other infragraphics on the module.
Managing your online identity           2 I manage this fairly well although my online presence is limited to social media platforms. I hope to broaden my digital reach over the course of the module and beyond.
Managing your online privacy and security           3 I feel I have a grip on my online privacy. Some of my profiles are public (Instagram and Twitter), while others are private (Facebook), due to the amount of personal information involved. I would be interested to learn more ways of ensuring online security.

On this module I hope to gain a greater understanding of the ways in which the web has fundamentally changed how we live, learn and work. I want to improve my digital confidence and start to build a more professional, proficient and engaging online identity.

I have a creative background and strong writing skills from my studies in Art and English, which have helped me to develop a broad understanding of visual and verbal communication. I hope to bring these skills to bear in my new blog!

Reference

Knight, S. 2011. Digital literacy can boost employability and improve student experience. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2011/dec/15/digital-literacy-employability-student-experience [accessed 7 January].