First, a little bit of history:
YEAR: 2000 | Place: London, UK
I went to London, UK, in 2000, for a month, to study English. At that time, even though I had a Nokia cell phone (heavy as a brick), we thought it would not work in another country. Thus, I used to walk three blocks down the street to use a public phone to call my father, once a week. I also used to cross the street, once a week, to use an iMac G3, at one of the paid Internet cafés, to write emails full of details about my experience. Nobody in my family had an email address, so I sent my emails to my sister’s boss’ email address. Her boss printed all my emails, and my sister handed them to my father. I still have all the hard copies of the emails in a binder, and I treasure them so much. I don’t have a picture of that Internet café, but I will never forget my experience using those translucent-coloured Macintosh computers!
I wrote my 30-day experience in a notebook, and I took approximately 500 pictures with a Kodak camera borrowed from one of my aunts. I got every single film developed in London just to make sure I would not lose any photos. Each developed film came with a photo guide, like the one below. My photo albums are still in Brazil; I love looking at those pictures every time I go home for a visit.
I plan on going back to London in 2020 to revisit the places I visited in 2000. How will this experience be different? How will technology make it different?
YEAR: 2012 | Place: Regina, SK, Canada
My husband, our cat, and I arrived in Regina on August 31, 2012. My family got news from us, via Facebook, many times from the day we left our home (August 28) to the moment we touched the prairies with our feet. Many of our first adventures in Canada were shared publicly, like the one below, until someone told me about private groups on Facebook. Private groups on Facebook became our preferred way to share photos and news with our family for many months.
Regina gave us the opportunity to experience so many different things, so I created a blog, that has been closed since 2016, to share all the interesting things about Regina. Between 2013 and 2016, I welcomed some Brazilians to Regina who decided to live here after reading my blog. I decided to close my blog due to lack of time to post regularly, and, mostly, because I was not comfortable anymore sharing my experiences online.
I took more than 10,000 photos in our first year here using a digital camera and a cell phone. I put some of those photos on my blog and shared a few with more with my family. Unfortunately, I never took the time to check those pictures again after they were shared and uploaded to an external drive.
YEAR: 2017 | Place: at home, writing this blog post
So many things changed from 2000 to now. I currently own a mid-2011 iMac that is a bit slow, a 2012 mini iPad that is super slow, and a Samsung S7 that freezes often. I use my computer to do my assignments, plan classes, and edit photographs. I use my iPad to read blogs, news, and watch videos. I use my cell phone basically to send WhatsApp messages to family and friends, take and share photos, and check emails. I use less than a handful of apps.
Nowadays, it is much easier to communicate with my family in Brazil. I still take lots of pictures, but much less than before. I send Postagrams, real paper postcards, to my grandmother. I have a private Instagram account. I print photos at home to create Project Life photo albums.
Since 2016, I have been spending 90% less time online.
My digital identity throughout the years:
In 2000, my digital identity was non-existent. I eventually used digital resources for sharing emails.
I owned a few blogs between 2005 and 2010, and I participated in many digital scrapbooking forums and galleries. My digital identity was only related to my hobby: digital scrapbooking. Even though I deleted those blogs, it is possible to find evidence from my old binary tattoo: a copy of one of my blogs (without pictures but still fully online – scary), a brief mention about my scrapbooking blog in another blog, the link of one of my other blogs here, a copy of one of my 2016 posts, and an interview I gave to another scrapbooker. I was able to find my full birthdate online and the email I was using in 2007. During those years, my digital identity was built through the publication of my digital scrapbooking experiences; it was not planned at all. I was not aware of the dangers of publishing layouts with my photos or sharing personal information online.
In 2012, my digital identity was attached to my experiences in Canada; again, it was not planned. I was using a blog to openly share about events I attended and places I visited in Regina. I was not aware of the impact of my digital footprint on my personal life until I decided to quit.
2017: The idea of building a positive digital identity was presented to me in this graduate course on Social Media & Open Education; I never thought about this before. I went from a person who comfortably shared online, around 2007-2008, to a person who decided to stop sharing online at all. In 2016, I realized that I am happier when I am offline, spending time in nature, with my family and my cat, and doing simple things like reading, gardening, and journaling. I spend days without using Facebook. I do not suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) anymore.
The “about me” page is still empty here. I don’t know yet what I want the world to know about me. It took me years of self-reflection to identify who I am as a person and because I decided that the online world was not going to play a big role in my life from now on, I am unsure about how I want to be seen online. I kinda like my anonymity. I have two more months to discover how I want to be seen online.
I am also becoming more aware of my role as an educator in the digital age, and I am starting to accept that I need to integrate social media and open educational resources in my teaching practices.
My students’ digital identity
Another great thing that is happening this semester due to this course is my awareness about the importance of helping my students think about their own digital identities. As a Student Affairs staff, I agree with what Eric Stoller said about our responsibility as “the leading voice for digital identity development in higher education”.
I am planning a class about this topic for the upcoming weeks. Below are some of the open resources that I will be using in my class to facilitate a discussion on positive digital identity.
- Blog posts: Steps for a less searchable life, Components of a good digital identity, and “brain hacking“.
- Handout from the lesson plan on digital footprint found on this great post on digital presence.
As soon as I have my lesson on digital identity planned, I am going to share it here. Also, since I can’t avoid making doodles on my new digital identity due to this course assignment, I want to draw them carefully and intentionally. I know I am not alone on this journey, as Ryan said in his first post, and I may follow Chris’ decision on using this blog afterward to explore my educational footprint. Who knows?