Digital Identity

After looking at,, and ( was not working), as well as Footprints in the Digital Age (Will Richardson), Personal branding in the age of Google (Seth Godin), and Digital Tattoo, five lessons relating to digital identity emerged:

1. Having a digital identity is almost a necessity.  With so much networking (both for recreation and job searching) going on, it can put you at a disadvantage if you do not have a sufficient online presence.  Disadvantages can include a wide range of things, such as not being up-to-date with news stories or with friends, but also not being found if a potential employer is searching for people like you online.

2. Your digital identity should have an air of professionalism.  On any website or social media account, the inclusion of professional achievements and affiliations looks impressive and adds credibility to you.  This credibility is further enhanced by the elimination of personal details.  How you present yourself online should be welcoming, but not to the point that you share information that is irrelevant.

3.  The way you present yourself online should be organized and clear, as visitors to your website as well as social media and networking accounts are likely to associate this with strong communication skills, which are much sought after by employers.  Showing that you have a purpose for being online (perhaps networking to find a job) and organizing yourself to achieve that objective also shows professionalism (as mentioned in lesson #1) and will work in your favor.

4.  Creating a digital identity is something that should be taught to all.  As the new literacy of networking becomes more prevalent, it becomes increasingly important to educate online users about the advantages and disadvantages their digital identity can create for them.  There is a fine balance between using the digital world to network and in using it for recreation.  This becomes especially important when it comes time to find a job.  If a potential employer sees you doing something idiotic online this could hurt you tremendously.

5.  Although the formation of a digital identity should be taught and guided, it is the responsibility of each individual person to determine how he or she will present himself or herself online and that person ultimately will have to answer for a poorly presented image.  This tremendous responsibility that accompanies the formation of a digital identity gives more significance to education about this topic.


You know we live in a different world when “living off the grid” is a title reserved for people on National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. Whether we like it or not, the ratio between public and private life is favoring the public realm and as a result, our lives, more often than not, are presented for the world to see. A simple Google search of my name (something we all have done dating back to those special days in elementary school when we had a class activity that involved the use of laptops) returned things that I had completely forgotten about. Those team pictures from the year I made my Little League All Star Team? Yeah, those are up there. A picture of me walking across the stage at my high school graduation? Also up there. But recently, especially after reading several of these articles, I have realized not only the importance of having a digital identity but also of the responsibility attached to it. Without further ado, I present to you the five secrets I learned about digital identity.

  1. Provide a cumulative section in which all the things you have worked on are presented with a brief description and a link to the website or video.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. By providing a section in your website or blog that encompasses all of the work that you have played a role in creating, people who search for your digital identity are able to gain insight into the fields and sub-fields that you have spent time learning and contributing about.

2. You must be willing to share yourself with the public in order to reap the benefits of having a digital identity.

This may seem obvious but I think it is one of the most important tips that I learned through this exercise. Creating and maintaining a digital identity is one of those “you get out what you put in” kind of deals. Now, I understand that some people may not feel comfortable exposing themselves to the public eye; I get that. However, I also think that in this day and age, in order to be “successful” (however you might quantify that) you must in some manner, share yourself with the public.

3. Have links to websites or blogs that have a similar theme and explore similar topics as the one you are interested in and presenting to the public.

Creating a web of websites hosted by like minded individuals who are exploring a similar topic allows for both the user and the reader to expand their network and knowledge for a topic.

4. Don’t necessarily be scared of using and exploring the benefits of social media. Utilizing social media as a platform through which you can network and connect with like-minded individuals with similar interests and passions is important and extremely helpful.

This kind of ties back to my second point. Don’t be scared about putting yourself out there in the digital world. With all the fear mongering around the NSA and hackers and all that stuff that could be central to a plot to a 1980s action movie, it is understandable that people might have some hesitation about creating a digital identity. To me however, the pros of creating something in which people can look to as a comprehensive summary of who I am far outweigh the cons.

5. Find blogs and forums that are related to things you are passionate and PARTICIPATE in those discussions.  

For all you lurkers on Reddit, this one is for you. Think of forums or blogs as a book club but instead of meeting in a living room with refreshments and finger foods, you sit in the comfort of you room at your computer with a club consisting of thousands upon thousands of people, each with their own experiences and ideas about the world. Actively participating with others regarding a topic that you all share together can be an extremely rewarding thing; one in which you are able to not only express your thoughts and beliefs but also where you can gain new insights and points of view.


Five Lessons Learned About Digital Identity

After reading and exploring Jess Reingold’s web site:, Footprints in the Digital Age by Will Richardson, and Who Owns the Digital You? (Three Parts), I learned these lessons about digital identity:

  1. There is the “real-you” and the “digital-you” but they are interconnected.
  2. Your digital self can be larger than your real self because of the amounts of bytes.
  3. Oversharing or creating too much of a digital presence could jeopardize your privacy.
  4. Your digital identity is a way for you to express yourself while communicating and collaborating with the outside world. You can create an online resume or portfolio that shows your interest and experience and you can talk to friends, family and even strangers.
  5. It is up to the individual what and how much of a digital identity a person wants to have depending on how much they want to share and communicate.

Digital Footprints

The three websites I looked at were the Footprints in the Digital Age article for Educational Leadership,  the Personal branding in the age of Google blog, and the personal site of Jessica Reingold. One of the first things that struck me about the latter site was the relative simplicity of it; it was primarily just a method of presenting her resume and portfolio. Because of the visually interesting way in which her website allows her to do it however, it is very distinctive and memorable. So, my first takeaway from her website would be that the digital world allows excellent presentation of very basic and rote information.


From the Footprints in the Digital Age article, I had two main takeaways. The first, not surprisingly given the article’s focus, was about how much the actions of kids on the Internet could later affect their digital footprint. I mostly just read the Internet when I was younger, and never really posted anything associated with my real name before college, so this doesn’t really apply to me too much directly; but with the ever-increasing amount of kids who are present on the Internet from a young age and using it for any variety of purposes, a considerable part of any individual’s digital footprint may have been made well before adulthood. This could certainly be problematic for anyone later on in life, depending on how they wish to present themselves on the Internet.

The second takeaway from that article for me, also not surprisingly, was about networking. Leaving a digital footprint from a very early point in your life has some potential pitfalls, but on the other hand, when well managed and guided, children can also find communities and other individuals who share their interests and hobbies and potentially aid them, both casually and even in a more professional capacity later on.

From Seth’s blog, I took away two rather simple lessons. The first being that simply put, Google can be a permanent record, and anything you do or say can end up there, including personal habits that may not look attractive to a potential employer. The second, more specific thing worth keeping in mind is that you should be careful what you say online about your ambitions as to your career, since a potential employer could easily see a disconnect or a lack of commitment  between what you say and your application to that particular job.


Five Lessons About Digital Identity

After looking at a number student’s Domain of One’s Own websites, Dr. McClurken’s website, and several of the articles, I was drawn to several themes or concepts:

  1. It is important to list your educational and professional experiences on your website, as well as samples of your work to favorably portray yourself to potential employers. While LinkedIn can help build your identity as a professional, using your own website can give you greater control over the presentation of information about yourself, your contributions, and your collaborations.
  2. Be thoughtful about what information you share on the internet. Even if you carefully construct a professional identity, your reputation can still be compromised by information you post on social media.
  3. Building on the observation above, information posted on the internet is difficult to remove. Begin to build your digital identity from a young age.
  4. If you don’t work to create a digital identity for yourself, Google will for you. People who are interested in learning more about you will search your name and form opinions about you from the search results. You can shape their opinions of you by creating your own website where you have more control over how you present yourself.
  5. Your digital identity will help you connect with others with shared interests. However, you should also try to engage with a broader audience to attract people with different perspectives who can challenge your thinking. I believe that criticism is a powerful tool for refining arguments or developing a well-thought opinion.

Lessons on Digital Identity

  1. In order to create a strong digital identity, you must create a personal brand- you must be aware of and in control of your brand by defining your values and characteristics.

2. Just about everything we do online can be traced, which contributes to our digital identity.

3. In today’s world, it is virtually impossible to not have a digital identity. Even if you actively try to not leave a digital footprint, you are bound to leave one somewhere without even realizing.

4. Today, even children need to be conscious about their online activities-digital footprints start from a young age. Even games that kids play online can leave a digital footprint.

5. “Google never forgets.” Every action you take online is like a permanent record. It is important to think long and hard before posting anything online because it can be traced. Ultimately, this could have a negative affect on your career and reputation if you are not careful.

Digital Identity, or, I blog therefore I am

The first blog I read was “Personal Branding in the Age of Google.” Naturally I immediately googled my name.

I was disappointed.

I found that I could be an actor, felon, or possibly British. Since none of those were correct I added more details like my state of residence, middle initial, and finally my middle name.

As it turns out, I pop up on two websites; the first is a birth records index from California, and the second is my dearly departed grandmother’s genealogy project from 2003.

In other words, lesson 1, I don’t really exist.

The second article explained why this wasn’t such a bad thing.

“Controlling Your Public Appearance” affirmed that the lack of information was due primarily to how I’ve managed my digital presence over the last few years. My facebook is on lockdown, twitter is hardly used, and my ancient myspace, if it currently exists at all, was at least somewhat tasteful. Lesson 2, you have the (modest) power to be a nonentity.

If, someday, my facebook became a matter of public knowledge, I can rest assured that the only new information anyone will figure out (aside from that already available through my two search results) is that I have liberal leanings. That is (currently) not a crime, nor is it (currently) a bar to participating in public life. Lesson 3, some things are best left unsaid.

The “Digital Tattoo” was fun and interesting, but I need to put up two more lessons so here goes. Lesson 4, there’s no right way to exist digitally. There’s not really a wrong way either. Sending your account information to a Nigerian Prince or trusting a bombshell blonde you just met on facebook with your social security number are outright dumb, and dumb things are generally bad, but just as bad is refusing to exist digitally at all. This thought leads me to lesson 5; badges, likes, and upvotes are the cheapest way to get people to reveal things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t mention. Want an honest assessment of a person’s internet habits? Make a quiz and hand out badges, it’s like gold stars for first graders but it’s cheaper and gets more results.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned About Digital Identity

Back in my Sophomore year, I made a rather early “rough draft” for my Digital Portfolio as part of my final grade for Into to Digital Studies. It doesn’t look that great right now, but I’m sure it will look a lot better once I sit down and work on it for a good amount of time and incorporate what I learned from the three websites that I looked at to learn about Digital Identity.

The first lesson that I learned involved advertising your work. Looking at the Professor McClurken’s site, I noticed that he has listed probably everything that he was involved with directly on the homepage and even the side menu. Doing this is rather important for your Digital Identity. Whenever someone stumbles across your name online and end up at your website, they can easily learn more about you and contributions online. It could even lead them to collaborate with you if they have similar interests and arguments as you.

However, in order for them to collaborate with you they need  some contact information. That is the second lesson I learned from browsing the websites. You don’t need to put your phone number, but your e-mail is a must and possibly your Twitter and Facebook if you don’t mind future colleagues looking at them. If you didn’t list any online contact information then how would one expand their Digital Identity?

To continue on the thought of social media being viewed by your boss, another lesson to keep in mind is linking to profiles that you want others to view and have your personal accounts private. It’s best to keep in mind that you shouldn’t post anything that could ruin the Digital Identity that you’ve already worked hard on while using those public accounts. One wrong post could ruin everything and there really isn’t a way to start over since once something is posted online, even if it is later deleted, it still can be found online.

If still don’t want to risk using your social media then one of the last lessons should cover that. When making your Digital Portfolio, you should include a short biography informing the viewer about yourself and how you contribute online. Not everyone that ends up on your site will know you, so why not tell them about you? A bio helps them learn about you and understand why you are involved in certain topics. For example, if I blog online about privacy issues and someone decides to check out my website, I would have a bio that mentions how I am in the Digital Studies field and how I’ve worked on projects involving privacy before.

One final lesson that I learned from viewing McClurken’s site, Fleshing Out the Digital Selves in Practice article, and the Controlling Your Public Appearance article. would be keeping your Digital Portfolio simple. You don’t want to startle or scare away potential followers by having crazy colors and a wacky background, unless your online identity is wacky and crazy. What you really want is to have the tone of your website match with the tone of your online persona. If they didn’t match, there would be confusion and possible negative feedback towards you and your works.

The Importance of Digital Indentity

I already had some familiarity with looking at digital identity constructively. In a project I did recently in another class I examined blogging and as a piece of that I looked at the way Mary Washington students and staff, as well as others shape their digital identities. This exercise pushed those thoughts I have already been forming further into understanding digital identity.

1 Digital Identity needs to start young

I’ve heard it before but in Will Richardson’s article,“Footprints in a Digital Age”,  he put it blatantly that he worried about his young children’s digital identity. I’ve always thought that collage age and up is when people really start structuring their digital identities purposefully it surprised me that we should think about from early childhood.


2 With the internet people can find anything

In the Wired article about Evan Ratliff I was surprised just how much information people could find on him. The collective “everyone” always tells you to be careful what you have online because it can always been found however I never understood how deeply this “everything” went. (How do you find someones cat sitter for instance?)


3 Google has the power

The majority of the time when someone goes to look you up they plug your name into Google and see what comes up. This is a continual process that I have been a part of too. When I got my random college roommate freshman year the first thing I did was google her and was concerned because I found almost nothing. The blog post, Personal branding in the age of Google reaffirmed this feeling. When you want to hire someone you Google them whatever comes up gives you an instant opinion of a person.


4 It is important (and necessary) to build networks

In “Footprints in a Digital Age” there is a discussion about how not only are networks important but the way we shape them as well. I particularly felt that the concept of creating a network that challenges you to grow and gives you other view points was an important point. It can be easy to form a comfortable network of praise online but listening to opposition can be productive in some ways.


5 Control over your digital identity is important.

Prior to this assignment I had already come to this conclusion through the other articles and discussions I have had with people.  The articles however served to further confirm my opinion. How you use digital identity and how others perceive you is important. It gives potential employers and total strangers a snapshot into who you are and making sure you are the author of that image is increasingly important.