Thoughts on Digital Identity

The readings and exercise this week were really helpful. Bonnie Stewart’s post really hit home when she talked about moribund blogs, because I have one! Regarding blogs and identity, Stewart notes, “You have to cobble that self together from the nearly infinite contexts and selves reflected back at you by the disco ball of the blank screen. It’s what makes the dead-letter pile of all the millions of blogs choking the internet.” I felt seen.

I made list of all the places that I could think of where I’m digitally present: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, my blog, Humanities Commons (a place for academics to share their research) Loom, some online publications, my CV, Google Docs.

Dave White’s model of visitor-resident as a replacement to immigrant-native is really important. I’ll be using these categories in my classroom, and especially when I talk with administrators about our students. The map I made brought something to light I hadn’t though about before.

What struck me is that I’m rarely a visitor online. I put Instagram on the boundary because I don’t look at posts from people whom I don’t follow, and I only follow friends. Twitter and Facebook, however, are good examples of Bonnie Stewart’s collapsed contexts, especially Twitter. My account isn’t private and, while I do present an “academic” face I also tweet about lots of other things, serious and whimsical. Given that most of my interactions are with other academics, I know that I’m pretty typical. On Facebook, I have many academic friends whom I’ve never met “IRL” but with whom I have collaborated on writing projects, conferences, etc.

In my discipline, we have a whole section in our scholarship statement about the importance of public scholarship, and that’s something that I think informs part of my digital identity.

(2) Comments

  1. Taylor

    I’m glad to read that you resonated with the Visitor Resident model, in my experience the digital native way of thinking can sometimes lead to assuming students just “know this stuff” when using different digital platforms, thinking about identity etc. In my opinion this is often not the case.

    I’ve helped a few faculty do V&R mapping in courses that had public writing components, and students seem to often find it useful!

    1. Diana VB

      I found the readings insightful as well. In looking at your map on slack and before reading your post, the first thought that came to mind was of a robust resident – balanced between both professional and personal worlds. Your post seems to say as much. As I tend towards the visitor/reluctant resident end of the spectrum I appreciate your embrace of the resident space especially that it also suggests possibility. Visual representations do carry their own power.

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