When we use the internet, especially social sites, we leave a mark which is sometimes called our digital footprint. The size of your footprint will depend on many things, such as the number of sites you use, how intently you use them and your impact on other users of the site. It is also possible to have multiple footprints, for example if you use separate digital identities. Your digital identity is the term for how you present yourself online. This can be a complex topic as people go about it in different ways. Some people like to use separate accounts for personal or professional use of social media, and might even have additional accounts for special interests, each of these accounts would represent a unique digital identity. Alternatively, some people choose to use a single account and manage their multiple identities through this account.
There is no right or wrong way to approach digital identity, provided you are aware of your digital footprint and in control of how you are presented online. All of this ties into digital professionalism, which is about how you engage and promote yourself online, in a manner that represents yourself (and your employer) in a positive light.
This barely scratches the surface of these complex topics, which are very difficult to summarise in such a short space. Yet how you present yourself online and are perceived by others is extremely important, as it can both create opportunities and take them away. The internet is almost impossible to avoid and when it is used well can be a great ally. We felt it was important to include these topic in digifest as both students and staff alike can benefit from greater awareness of their digital footprint, and tips on how they might want to approach and manage their digital identities. We do not want to scaremonger and just highlight all the stories of lost careers, we want to explore how the internet can be used to open doors and create opportunities.
You may also enjoy this 2011 UCL Lunch Hour Lecture by Prof Claire Warwick on Twitter and digital identity:
A while ago, the Lifehacker blog shared its tips for cleaning up a messy online presence: http://lifehacker.com/5963864/how-to-clean-up-your-online-presence-and-make-a-great-first-impression
justdelete.me has a handy list of account deletion instructions for the most common online platforms and tools.
Today’s digifest sessions and activities will look at digital identity, digital professionalism and how these relate to employability. What’s your digital footprint? Have you Googled yourself lately? If not, do it today. Did you find any surprises? What’s your strategy for dealing with the skeletons in your virtual closet (if you have any)?
We have a handy footprint template that you might like to print out and doodle on as you browse your online profiles (printable footprint_pdf). When you’re done, why not send us a photo of your footprint to share?
Either post your contribution in the comments below, tweet a link @ucldigifest with the #-tag #dfidentity or email us at ucldigifestATgmailDOTcom.
If you are sending photos/videos/screencasts/presentations, etc. please mark your contributions with a CC-BY Creative Commons license. This will enable us to share your contribution at our big showcase day on Friday. We will share a photo or video tour of the exhibition back on the blog afterwards.
Today in our UCL cinema we will be screening:
Life in a Day by Kevin Macdonald, Liza Marshall and Ridley Scott. Crowd-sourced film, documenting life on planet earth on 24th July 2010. The film was assembled from 80,000 clips that were submitted by YouTubers from around the world. Watch it at http://youtu.be/JaFVr_cJJIY
How much do you already know about topics covered at UCL digifest? Take our quiz!