Topic 2: Online Identities -When “I” becomes “We”

As Internet use became more and more popular, the number of identities created online also grew. In a previous blog post I mentioned the different ways in which people use the web, and how they would present themselves while using it. While people may choose to utilise the web in either a more personal or professional manner, they will be presenting an online identity to all those who go online.

When dealing with multiple identities, it often comes down to the different ways in which we represent ourselves. (Costa and Torres, 2011)  The most common differences would be, for example, having a personal identity versus a professional identity. Even on a personal level, you may sometimes want to have multiple identities for different audiences.

digital_identity_by_rainspeak-d4m28vz
Source: http://deepsoni.me/tech/online-identity-safe/

Having friends who cosplay, I often hear stories where they either don’t want work colleagues who are outside of the cosplay scene to see what they do; conversely, there are those who have people adding them on Facebook or sending messages to their dedicated cosplay Facebook page as if they were friends, despite never meeting them before. There are multiple other reasons for creating this extra identity, but this is generally the main one in order to maintain privacy.

apcnews2012protecting-your-online-identity-thumb_mainimage1-jpg1
Source: http://apcmag.com/protecting-your-online-identity.htm/

This is one way in which people would cite privacy as the reason why they have multiple online identities. However, is there a way in which having one online identity would actually increase security? Fahmida Rashid argues that by using your Facebook or Google account to sign into other sites that offer that option, it is actually safer than creating a new account and identity altogether. (Rashid, 2015) This may be true in that once you have an account that is on a secure platform such as Google, where you have customised security settings, it is much easier to use this one account for several sites. However, there is never a way to be 100% secure. In fact, developments over the years meant that anonymity became harder to achieve, one example being YouTube’s more restricted username policies.

The following video explores the evolution of Internet identities:

Source: YouTube

In essence, there are no reasons why you shouldn’t create multiple online identities, as often it is to do with your privacy. Personally, I feel that by separating your identities it is easier to maintain security, while also keeping a personal or professional profile. I will leave you all with this short documentary about online identity:

Source: YouTube

References:

Costa, Cristina, & Torres, Ricardo, (2011), “To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society” [Accessed 25th February]

CraftySorceress, “Good-Not good reasons to get a cosplay page” [Accessed 25th February]

Gibbs, Samuel, (2015), “The return of the YouTube troll: Google ends its ‘real name’ commenter policy”The Guardian , [Accessed 26th February]

Rashid, Fahmida Y., (2015), “Signing Into Websites With Google, Facebook is Good for Security” [Accessed 26th February]

 

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Topic 1: Reflection

Along with many others, this module is the first time that I have stepped into the world of blogging. With the first topic being our presence within the web, I felt it was a good way to be further introduced in my usage of it. Initially I thought that our presence on the web is quite binary, either being a resident or a visitor, however upon further reading I learnt that it was a lot more complex than that.

During my research while writing the first blog post on this topic, I learnt a lot about the various ways in which people utilise the web, starting with Prensky’s definitions of digital natives and immigrants (Prensky, 2001). However, reading through the posts from my peers I learnt that it is much more of a spectrum, where people can fall anywhere between the two ends of the continuum.

In my comments on Ji’s and Raziya’s blogs, I take this idea presented and question the cross binary use of the web, specifically LinkedIn in the former comment. Through their blogs and their replies, I learnt that it is much easier to combine elements of the digital visitor and the digital resident in various ways, often leading to a usage of the web that is more uncommon. One example is LinkedIn; usually it is more of a tool used for finding potential employers and careers, however by also putting your own profile on there it becomes an amalgamation of being a digital resident, yet also using the site as a tool like a digital visitor.

By enrolling on this course, I have already started to broaden my understanding of the web, and I hope to develop this blog and my general online presence and how it can be affected in different ways.

References:

Prensky, Marc, (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Topic 1: Digital ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’

The current age of society is heavily technology based. There is often a large divide between generations of those who have grown up using technology and those who have just become accustomed to using it. Prensky details this as the idea of “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants” (Prensky, 2001). The concept behind this is that today’s generation has grown up with technology around them, and through this has developed a far different way of processing information and utilising technology – they are the “Natives”. Conversely, there are those who only come into the digital age at a later point of their lives; they are the “Immigrants”.

prensky-word-cloud
Word cloud of Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (2001), www.wordclouds.com

Whilst it seems to be a concept that makes sense, it is one that has been scrutinised and heavily criticised by others. A key component in Prensky’s analogy is the age discrepancy that causes the rift between generations’ competency in using technology. What he fails to consider is that not everyone has the same level access to technology. Research evidence has revealed that while ‘a proportion of young people are highly adept with technology … there also appears to be a significant proportion of young people who do not have the levels of access or technology skills predicted by proponents of the digital native idea.’ (Bennet, et al. 2008)

Due to this, a new analogy was proposed: digital “visitors” and “residents”. This concept is based largely on how someone uses technology, rather than how competent they are at using it.

Digital visitors can be viewed as someone who uses technology like a tool, only visiting it in times of need and leaving it behind once they are done. While they may use it very little, or often, they are unlikely to leave any sort of identity behind on the Web, preferring to remain anonymous (White, 2011).

On the other hand, digital residents “reside” on the Web. For them, they are happy to conduct social and personal communication through the Internet, living a proportion of their lives with others online (White, 2011).

When I consider my own online presence, I am very much a digital resident. I use the Internet as one of my main communication methods, easily reaching people who I might not see every day. In addition, I am also able to be in communities who all share the same space, despite living far apart offline.

References

Bennett, Sue, Maton, Karl, & Kervin, Lisa (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (5) [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc, (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc (2001). Do They Really Think Differently? [Accessed 10 February 2017]

Prensky, Marc (2001). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom [Accessed 10 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9) [Accessed 10 February 2017]

White, David, (2014). Evaluating digital services: a visitors and residents approach [Accessed 17 February 2017]

Introductions

Hi everyone! My name is Andy, currently a student at the University of Southampton. I have set up this blog to reflect on topics outlined in one of the modules I have taken this semester: UOSM2008 – Living and Working on the Web. Topics will relate to the online world we live in, and the identities that we present ourselves as on the web.

Rating at start of module Comments Rating at end of module Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information  3  As an English student, finding references include both offline and online texts. Over time it is necessary to become well-versed in the evaluation of what is useful regarding the topic at hand.
Participating in online communities  3  While I don’t have a lot of communities online site-wise, there are various groups on Facebook that I participate in regularly, each pertaining to different interests.
Building online networks around an area of interest  2  While part of a variety of online networks, I find it hard to build up my own network around me.
Collaborating with others on shared projects  2  Having done group projects before, I can say that I am able to collaborate with others towards a mutual goal, however I much prefer working by myself.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video)  3  I have mainly used Adobe Photoshop in editing/drawing, and have also used audio/video editing software. I have limited knowledge on this however, only having done a few things before.
Managing your online identity  2  I have a limited online identity, most of which is on Facebook as the main social media platform I use. I feel that I could benefit in broadening the areas that I have a presence in.
Managing your online privacy and security  3  While I maintain security and privacy settings on Facebook, I realise that there are other platforms which I don’t have full privacy control over.

So why did I choose this module? 
As an English Lit student, I felt that as times change, so do the ways of literature. More and more often, you find people self-publishing novels, creating stories online, or – funnily enough – publishing blogs. In a technologically advancing world, I think that it’s important to keep up, and therefore to learn how to better manage an online presence on the web.

What in particular do I want to learn?
As mentioned above, I want to learn how to manage my online identity in order to make it the best it can be. In a world where people can find friends just based on a name, it has to be kept in mind what exactly people can find of you.

Which degree programme am I studying?
English Lit – just slightly different from this module, but overall I think they can hugely benefit each other.

Have you studied online before?
Not at all! This is the first time in which I won’t be studying outside of a computer; I must say as an English student this is quite the difference!