Digital Identity Lessons

“Digital identity” is a central focus point of the digital studies curriculum here at UMW, but many of these readings introduce a new perspective specifically focused on academia. Here are five takeaways I had from these readings that I think were most helpful to my own outlook on it.

  1. Digital identity is contextual. There are hardly ever hard-and-fast rules that apply to every facet of your digital life with regards to what kind of content you share, the degree of formality your language has, how much private information you share, etc. That depends entirely on the purpose of your platform, the field you’re in, your audience, and a variety of other interconnected factors.
  2. The more present your digital identity is, the better. Being a non-entity on the Internet is only slightly better than being a maligned figure; it’s necessary not only to be aware of what you put out into the world, but to make sure you’re putting something out in the first place.
  3. The more you control your own voice, the better. This is why blogging is such a good tool, especially in academic fields.
  4. The flow of information about you should be some level of ongoing. This means that your audience is aware of your continued presence and activity, but it also means that your digital identity is defined by the you of right now, not by the you of five years ago.
  5. An important and underrated part of digital identity is protecting your information. Digital identity isn’t just blogs, domains, and social media; it’s ad preferences, private data, and other things that we could be letting digital tools pick up from us without our knowledge and awareness. To the extent that we can curtail this process, we should.

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