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Learning materials about Digital Identity produced by the This Is Me project

This project has been funded by Eduserv.

Acknowledgements

OdinLab would like to thank Eduserv for funding the project.


We thank all the staff and students at the University of Reading
for their contributions and willingness to talk about Digital
Identity issues. We would also like to thank the eLearning
community for their critical feedback on both materials and
theory.
We are also grateful to the projects steering group, Julia Horn, Mike Roch, David Gillham, Maria
Papaefthimiou, to our colleagues in the Centre for Career Management Skills, David Stanbury, and
Finbar Mulholland, and to Sarah Morey, for their invaluable input and guidance.

This Is Me Activities by This Is Me1 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
2.0 UK: England & Wales License2.
You are free to copy, modify, and share them. Let us know of any modifications you make - and of
your experiences of using them. We are especially happy if you choose to translate them to other
languages, and would really appreciate it if you would license them under the same license scheme so
that the community can benefit. It would be great if you could let us have a copy of any translated
versions too!

1
2

http://thisisme.reading.ac.uk
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/

Contributors:

Pat Parslow
Shirley Williams
Sarah Fleming
Richard Hussey

This book is available in print, and online at http://stores.lulu.com/odinlab

Digital Identity
We use the term Digital Identity (DI) to describe the persona an individual presents across all the
digital communities in which he or she is represented.
As you use more and more online services which allow user content and discussion, such as
Facebook3, Bebo4, Hi55, LinkedIn6, Delicious7, Twitter8, blogs and so on, you leave a digital
footprint. This footprint is what makes up your Digital Identity all those things which can be
found out about you from the content you post, the profiles you make, the conversations you have
with others and the things other people post about you.
A lot of this material remains accessible for an indefinite period unlike a conversation in a coffee
shop, what is put on the Web tends to stay on the Web. With the increasing processing power of
computers, it will become easier over time to aggregate this information to build a profile of someone.
Various Web sites are already starting to do this, with varying degrees of accuracy.
What would someone who searches the Web for you find? Does it reflect the image of yourself you
want to portray? If there is something about you on the Web, how would you find out about it? What
does it say about somebody if they have no Web presence in todays world? If you are responsible for
others, e.g. a parent, teacher, or carer, are there any extra precautions you should take? How will
ideas about Digital Identity change as the technology becomes ubiquitous?

Learning materials
We have produced these learning materials to help you explore the ideas and issues surrounding the
concept of Digital Identity. This book is designed as a workbook. Experience shows that a persons
view of Digital Identity changes as they become familiar with different online services, and when
issues are reported in the media. It can be useful to go back and revisit how you answered the
worksheets every now and then, to see how events change your view.
Where possible, learners seem to gain more from the worksheets when they have the opportunity to
discuss the issues they raise in pairs or small groups. Some learners may need to be told not to share
any issues which they feel sensitive about, unless with a trusted friend. The worksheet on DI and
Death may need to be handled with particular sensitivity.

http://www.facebook.com
http://www.bebo.com
5
http://hi5.com
6
http://www.linkedin.com
7
http://www.delicious.com or http://del.icio.us
8
http://twitter.com
4

Online
These worksheets are also available online at http://thisisme.reading.ac.uk. We plan to have
interactive versions available, which you can use as a personal record, or use in a classroom setting.

Locking down your DI?


Abhaidev is a third year undergraduate who has been enjoying student life to the full. She has a
Facebook account with literally hundreds of photographs of her tagged at parties, trips to tourist
attractions, holidays with friends the usual! Abhaidev has also been studying hard, and is predicted
to get a good upper second degree (2.1) and she is applying for fast track management positions in a
few companies.
As a teenager, she used various chat rooms, and found out a lot about the university she goes to from
people who were happy to talk about it online. She has always been careful to avoid heated
arguments online, but is aware that her cultural views have shifted since going to university. She does
not necessarily see everything she said in the past as being entirely representative of her today.
She has been quite lucky in getting interviews, probably because of her dynamic and lively approach,
which is reflected in her online persona. However, she rates one of the jobs she has applied for as
being her favourite, and has recently heard that the company screens peoples online presence
during the application process.
Abhaidev is not sure whether to clean up her Facebook profile, to make it look more professional, or
whether to acknowledge that she enjoys a party as much as the next person, and that this shows she
has a character as well as those all important skills she has learned at university.

Image by nicubunu in public domain from http://openclipart.org/media/files/nicubunu/11335

Worksheet 1
Context:
You are a third year student on the cusp of graduating. You have been using the Internet socially
since you were a teenager via chatrooms, gaming and more recently Facebook. You have already
secured first interviews for graduate training schemes with two large corporations (A & B), but are
still waiting to hear from the one you are most interested in (C).
A friend tells you they have heard this company routinely screens potential and existing employees on
the Web, but the two firms you have interviews with both have a policy to not screen them. In this
worksheet, if you do not have a profile yourself, imagine you have one.
1)
What might your existing Facebook profile say about you if firm C looks at it?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
Are there any things that can be seen on your wall, or in notes you have posted which might
help encourage firm C to employ you?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Conversely, is there anything on your profile that might put an employer off?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
If you were in the position of shortlisting people for interview and your company had a policy
of checking candidates' DIs, how would you interpret it if it was obvious someone had just cleaned
up their profile?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
5)
How would you feel if the company you wanted to work for banned use of social networking
sites such as Facebook during work hours?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
6)
How, on the other hand, would you feel if the company you worked for decided its staff had
to use a social networking site, and to build customer relationships through it?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

Twittering
In the old days people used forums and bulletin boards to have conversations amongst communities.
Email can also be used for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications, but quickly
becomes hard to follow different threads of conversation. Social networking sites opened up ways of
having a many-to-many communication via peoples walls (in Facebook) and through use of groups
but Twitter popularised the idea of micro-blogging what you are doing or thinking to the whole world.
People who use it (Tweeple) were quick to come up with ways of holding semi-private
conversations (addressing a remark @someone) which anyone can see. It also has a means of sending
Direct (or private) messages to others.
Chas started using Twitter to communicate with some of his friends. Because he liked to chat about
books, he occasionally gained a few other followers people who were interested in his status
updates. Although Chas still feels that it is a little odd that people from around the world are
interested in what he has to say, he continues to update the Twitterverse with comments on books he
has read, interspersed with occasional conversations with friends, total strangers, and the odd Tweet
about his day to day life.
Chas was a little surprised when his Mum signed up to Twitter, and spent a little time wondering
whether he should protect his updates. Protecting them means that people cant read what he writes
unless he gives them permission. However, in the end, he decided that although he had made some
comments about books that he would have phrased differently if he had intended his Mum to read
them, she is a tolerant sort of person and probably wouldnt be bothered to read through his entire
history of Tweets. Chas partner, Sam, however was little concerned that some of their Twitter
conversation could be seen by the mother-in-law and decided to protect their updates.

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Image by Johnny_automatic in public domain from http://openclipart.org/media/files/johnny_automatic/3253

Worksheet 2
Context:
You are an undergraduate student and you start using Twitter over a summer vacation as it was used
by staff at the small company at which you had an internship. When you are back at university, you
find that a number of others are also using it.
1)
Thinking about these people
Ali - who takes the same modules as you
Bob - who takes one module with you
Cat - doing the same degree course as you but in a different name
Doug - a postgrad who helps with one of your tutorials
Ed - a lecturer on one of your module
Fi - your personal tutor
Greg - your student union president
Hiya - your student radio's twitter id
Mum - your mother
VC - your university's senior manager
X - your ex-lover
a) Which would you choose to follow and why?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
b) What would be your reaction if any of the above started following you?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
c) Would you expect the above to follow you if you followed them?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
2)

How would you feel when a stranger from the other side of the world follows you
a) If they seem to have similar interests?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
b) If they appear to Tweet about completely different things?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________

3)

Now would you Tweet about


a) Your social life?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
b) Your love life?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
c) Your academic life?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________

4)

Where will you Tweet from


a) The pub?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
b) The classroom?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
c) The supermarket queue?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
d) The library?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
e) Your room?
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________

Banking on honesty
Xian decided to delete her Facebook profile after realising that all of her banking security question
answers were either directly visible on it, or easily found by following links. It was only somewhat
later, when telling the tale of how hard she had found it to delete the information, that a student asked
why she had given honest answers to the bank in the first place. As the student pointed out - it isnt as
though the bank checks the answers are true, you just have to remember what you told them.

11

Privacy foiled by other people


One chap, Henry, decided he didnt want his real name associated with any of the Web content he had
to create as part of his course, so went through the institutions site and removed references to his
name. After he had finished, he made a blog post (his account was only known by his user ID, so
most people would not be able to tell who it belonged to) to say what he had done.
Unfortunately, someone else decided that they liked his name, and posted a comment on his blog
saying it was a shame he was hiding it, and by mentioning it re-created the link between name and
blog. This resulted in Henry deciding to remove his blog entirely.

Richard maintains separation


Richard is essentially a private person, and does not maintain much of a web presence. He also
practices separation of concerns when it comes to email.
Like many people, Richard uses email to keep in touch with people in very different walks of life. He
has many roles, and keeps his email accounts separate. In some cases, where he holds an office
within an organisation, the email account will eventually be passed to someone else - and this means
that it is important that there is a record of the communications all in one place. In other cases, the
separation helps with keeping a cognitive awareness of the different roles involved.
Richard uses two main tools for managing his email accounts, Thunderbird and Google Mail.

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Image by DooFi in public domain available at http://openclipart.org/media/files/DooFi/8564

10

DI and Death
Earlier this year a friend of mine died, it was very sad. Some weeks later, I realised that she was still
in my Skype contacts and that really I should remove her. When you remove Skype contacts, they are
shown as going into a rubbish bin and I felt, in the circumstances, that it was tasteless.
There are a number of services becoming available that allow people to lodge details of their digital
presences so they can be dealt with after their demise. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph12
highlighted Legacy Locker13, where you can lodge details of accounts that can be bequeathed after
your death. Im not sure that my nearest and dearest would want to go round shutting down my
accounts, so Im not signing up.
The other side of this is there are a number of memorial sites where obituary notices can be set up.
For example, Lasting Tribute14 is linked to death notices in newspapers. There are a number of
Facebook groups that are set up in memory of youngsters who have died. William Henry Bonser
Lamin, born August 1887 in Awsworth Notts, to Henry and Sarah Lamin, did not have a Digital
Identity when he was alive, but now he does, and he has his own blog at http://wwar1.blogspot.com/.

12

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/5131134/Legacy-Locker-Logging-off-inpeace.html
13
https://www.legacylocker.com/
14
http://www.lastingtribute.co.uk/

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Worksheet 3
Context:
Only try this worksheet when you are feeling good about yourself, as it explores the Digital Identity
that will be left after you have died.
1)
Consider one social networking site you are represented on. If you were never able to update
it after today, what changes would you now make?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
Thinking of all the digital places you are on, which ones would really need to know if you
have died? Consider the impact on your loved ones if a service was not told.
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Estimate how many years it will be before there are more than 50% of blog accounts
belonging to people who are dead?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
It is possible to arrange for someone to update your personal sites after you have died. Do
you know anyone you would trust to do this properly, and/or anyone who would want to do it for
you? If you would consider this, why does the idea appeal?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

12

Name that penguin


Greg is a recent graduate, now enjoying the London lifestyle since securing a job with a large Citybased company thanks to a good degree and dazzling Web profile, painstakingly crafted to sell his
talents to a decent employer. In addition to the usual bright lights big city stuff of touring bars and
clubs, Greg spends quite a bit of his down time gaming on the Internet, playing a wide range of
browser games and Second Life.
Now that hes a respectable working man with a (rented) flat all of his own, Gregs older sister
decides hes responsible enough to take charge of his 10-year-old nephew Sam for a couple of days
during the school holidays. Though fond of the lad, Greg finds himself at a bit of a loss to know how
to entertain him for any length of time, and is relieved when Sam turns to him one evening and asks
Do you know any cool computer games Uncle Greg?.
Mindful of the fact that a lot of the stuff he plays online is not, well, child-friendly, Greg does a quick
search for something more appropriate coming up trumps with Disneys Club Penguin. The pair sit
down to register on the site, which requires the user to register not only a user name, but create a
name for the penguin avatar through which Sam will be playing. This is cool, says Sam, Mum
doesnt let me play stuff on the Internet.
Not really wanting an earful from his sister for encouraging Sam to do things hes not allowed to at
home, but also not really knowing what else to do with him, Greg decides theyll go ahead and
register anyway particularly as the site seems well moderated with all the right sort of security
measures in place.
So, he says to Sam, what are we going to call this penguin?

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Image by chovynz in public domain available at http://openclipart.org/media/files/chovynz/11921

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Worksheet 4
Context:
This scenario describes the dilemma of creating a Digital Identity on behalf of someone else in this
case a minor, who may not be able to make informed choices about that identity.
Greg is clearly a technologically literate individual. He not only spends a lot of time playing online
games, but has also used the Web to manage his own reputation both as a student and as a potential
employee. This shows he understands the implications of having a Web presence, and the fact that
Web presence is viewed and interpreted by others.
In this situation, he chooses to take on the responsibility for creating a Web presence for his young
nephew, whose parent has already expressed misgivings about their child interacting on the Internet.
How he approaches the registration process for this site, and helps Sam choose a name for his persona
on it in this case a cuddly cartoon penguin could have consequences not only for Sam as an
individual, but for his family relationships as well.
Thinking about this scenario:
1)
What issues are there you should think about when helping someone else to create a facet of
their Digital Identity?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
Does the creation of an avatar form a link to the user? If so, who can join the dots to see
who the person behind the avatar is?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Thinking back to any accounts you may have had when you were a child, does anyone still
know you in terms of the identity you projected then?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
4. Recent research has shown that the pattern of people you connect to, and the ways you
connect, are as unique as a fingerprint. If looking at the connections Sams penguin makes can
identify him when related to, say the friends he has on Facebook later in life, does that change any of
your previous answers?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

14

Smile please
When I was a child, we had a Brownie camera and we could take eight photos on each film; I now
have a digital camera and can take thousands of pictures. As a child I stuck my photos in an album
and showed them to family and friends, now I can post my pictures on the Internet and share them
with the whole world. The photographs in which I appear that are posted somewhere on the internet
certainly contribute to my Digital Identity.
On holiday with family and friends, large numbers of photos are taken throughout the trip, from the
drowsy morning shots of pyjamaed individuals grasping a cup of tea, through sightseeing and
lounging by the pool, to boozy evenings. I can control which of these I post, but I have less control
over the ones other select to post.
A number of academic events I have attended recently have asked me to fill in a form that gives my
permission for pictures to be taken and used. One had professional photographers who, it seemed,
were almost everywhere capturing not only the presentations but also the coffee breaks and lunch.

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Image by rg1024 in public domain available at http://openclipart.org/media/files/rg1024/10384

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Worksheet 5
Context:
Select someone who is your Facebook friend and look at photos in which they are are tagged, then
below write comments you imagine the following might add to a small selection of these:
1)
Their partner
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
Their father
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Their cousin
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
A prospective employer
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
5)
A co-worker
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
6)
Someone they study with
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Having tried this with someone else, now try it on photos posted featuring yourself.

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Creating a SNS profile for an internship?


Maisy is a hard working student, who is involved in campus volunteering initiatives such as
mentoring local school children. She has been very involved with her sports club, and does shifts at
Nightline, the student run telephone support service. As a second year, she is looking to do a year in
industry to top up the funds and add extra weight to her CV.
Maisy has never had time to get involved with social networks on the Internet, preferring the
immediacy and dynamic nature of face-to-face conversations. She uses email and, occasionally, gets
distracted by her instant messenger program when she is trying to study, but apart from that, the
Internet is chiefly a resource for researching things whether they are academic or about fashion.
One of the companies Maisy would like to work for, though, has a strong presence in one of the social
networks, and has been contacting people though this medium about their plans for a year in industry.
Maisy is not sure whether she wants to get involved in this on the one hand, she could sit down and
write a profile to provide an online presence, but on the other hand, she has plenty to do, with a busy
second year at university.
What is worse is that she cannot work out whether a plain and straightforward profile would actually
help her in this case. It may be that it would look just a bit too engineered and put a potential
employer off. Some people expect to see a back story behind an online persona, and it may just be
too late to create one now.

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Image by Johnny_automatic in public domain available at


http://openclipart.org/media/files/johnny_automatic/3883

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Worksheet 6
Context:
You are a second year student interested in an industrial placement. You have avoided being drawn
in to social networking sites, preferring to spend time with your friends. You have three companies
that offer interesting opportunities for a year out, and you discover from one of your friends that two
of them have been getting in touch with potential interns through Facebook. While you were chatting
with friends over coffee, you heard that there are 20 people applying for each position within the
companies, so it is going to be quite competitive.
1)
What basic research would you do to try to determine whether you are more likely to be
successful in your application if you have a Facebook profile?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
If you choose to create a profile, for the purposes of enabling the companies to find you, what
sort of information would you make available?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
What do you think it says about you, if you just create the profile with your academic
achievements and areas of professional interests?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
If you were interacting with potential employees via a social networking site, how would you
see someone who had created a profile just to interact with you, or to get your attention?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

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Closed communities
David belongs to a secret society. Well, that isnt quite true, but he plays a game in which he is a
spy and the game organisers have forums and social networks set up which can only be accessed by
paying players. David gets a lot of fun out of the game, even if some of his friends think he is a bit
geeky. In fact, so enjoyable is the game that around 30 of his friends in the local area also play it on a
regular basis.
Many of the players are also on other, publically available, social networking sites. The game rules
forbid them to mention anything about the game in public (after all, they are spies!), and generally
people manage to abide by the rules.
After one of his friends was treated a bit harshly by one of the referees, who judged that their
character had been wounded whilst trying to escape from foreign agents, there was a bit of an
incident on the games forums. The friend saw red and let the powers-that-be know about their
shortcomings, occasionally in some colourful language.
Whilst David sympathised with his friend because the judgement had been unjust, the outburst made
(game-related) life quite tricky for a while. Some people decided they couldnt trust David anymore
because of his friendship, and because he had defended the guy in the online forum. David had
remained calm and polite throughout, but was now in a position where his friends reaction had had a
negative impact on his own reputation. In a real life situation, this would probably have blown over,
as memories started to fade, and people gradually left the game and were replaced with new blood.
However, the persistent nature of the incident, recorded in the archives, meant that it never quite
seemed to go away.

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Image by Gerald_G in public domain available from http://openclipart.org/media/files/Gerald_G/216

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Worksheet 7
Context:
Imagine you are a member of a national society, which has an online presence for its members in the
form of email lists. Only members of the society are allowed to join the lists, read emails coming
from the list, and send emails to it. You know:
Andrew - via the email list only
Bill - via the email list at first but he lives close by, so youve met up in the pub a couple of times
Cassandra - you knew before, and she was the one who encouraged you to join the society
Derek - you know from University, before you joined the society
Ericka - you met in the society, and then later elsewhere
Frederick - you know through the society, and he lives in the same town as you
Gerald - holds a position of authority in the society, although he isnt in charge
Harriet - someone you dislike
You read your mail one afternoon, and one of the emails is an angry diatribe, targeting those currently
in charge of the society. For each of the above people in turn, assume they were the person who sent
the email.
1)
How does sending the e-mail change the DI of the sender?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
How does it change the DI of the target?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
How does it change the DI of the society internally?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
What impact does it have on relationships outside of the society?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
5)
How do you respond to it?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
6)
What can be done to mitigate the effects?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

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Kevin Warwick on academics and Digital Identity


As a man with a high media profile and strong online presence Professor Kevin Warwick, Chair of
Cybernetics at Reading University, has strong views about the need for academics to maintain a
digital identity.
Im not sure how great the awareness among old-school academics is about the importance of having
a Web presence for themselves or their university, he says.
Seeing how influential these can be for students and potential students now the days of the
traditional prospectus are numbered senior academics need to be aware of the significance of the
information thats available. Students do search on particular members of staff to try to find out about
whos teaching on what, and this can influence their choices.
For academics, a well-managed digital identity is not just an essential tool for enhancing the
reputation of their institution, adds Professor Warwick, but also for enhancing their individual
standing.
If you compare two academics, one with a strong Web presence and one with their DI locked down,
my impression of the latter would be that what theyve actually done is not of any interest because if
it were, there would be more comment from other people, and they would put their work and their
arguments out there for people to see. It can give you a perspective on the value of someones
contribution.

Erica and the aggregator


Erica maintains a simple but effective online profile, which shows her professional achievements.
She updates as often as is appropriate, and makes sure it links properly to other information about her
on the Web.
When checking recently to see if there were any new mentions of her work which she should create
links to, she was surprised to find a site which claimed to be about her. It had her email address,
employer, and most of the content from her profile, but t also had links that related to somebody quite
different. Moreover, as Erica never had worked as a masseuse, she was rather surprised to see a Web
page that appeared to claim she had!
The problem was that the site in question trawled through countless pages, trying to find everything it
could about a person, and the rules it used for deciding whether information was about her were not
quite right. The company that ran the site said the easiest option was to sign up with them an edit her
profile. Although this would get rid of the errors, Erica could not see any reason why she should
effectively be blackmailed into joining someones online service (even though there was no cost).

21

Mike Roch on managing your DI


With 25 years in technology behind him Mike Roch, Director of IT Services at Reading University,
has a great deal of insight into Digital Identity both in terms of what it means to him, and the way it
is approached by others.
With social networking, particularly Facebook, being very much the topic du jour, Mike observes that
his own experience shows you can never be too careful about how you present yourself online,
because that information will be around for a long time! So much of the discussion focuses on the
here and now, he says, but, sorry to be the old fart, to me its not that new.
Its a new medium, but we were doing this sort of thing 25 years ago and the evidence still exists
that we were doing it 25 years ago. The persistence of this activity is something we are only coming
to recognise now there are Web sites out there whose mission it is to record all of the Internet for
posterity, and actually, its much more accessible than just some juddering archive!
With this in mind, he says, people should perhaps take lessons from real life when considering how to
form their digital one. A lot of people dont think about what the audience for their postings is going
to be. Yet our actual experience of life is not speak as you would be spoken to, but to speak as the
audience expects or requires you to. Very few people have the luxury in life of being themselves, and
having the world like it or lump it.
Mike adds that peoples belief in the anonymity of the Internet is part of their innocence about how it
really works, and can make them throw caution to the wind by telling the world and his dog about
their life and exploits from the comfort of a laptop. I do think theres a lot of, not naivety because
thats a loaded term but trust and innocence about the way people use social networking, young
people in particular, he says.
Their openness in social networking is not reflected in openness in their real lives. For example, its
not usual when walking down the street to see what someones name is even their name is private,
never mind whats going on in their relationships, or their political views.
In fact, says Mike, the analogy of a street applies rather well to the Internet. There are all sorts out
there, he comments, and if youre going to use a street safely and securely, then you tend not to
make a lot of eye contact, you tend to avoid dark corners, and cross over when there are no street
lights. The Internets got dark corners as well and there is a level of risk, especially when there is a
link between the virtual and the real.
Setting boundaries and making yourself fully aware of these risks, concludes Mike, are key to staying
in control of your Digital Identity, enabling it to work for you and hopefully not against you.

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DI and tags
Nowadays we are often offered the opportunity to tag resources. In Facebook I can tag the people in a
photo, on my blog I can tag a post, and on del.icio.us I can tag pages I have bookmarked.
There are a number of reasons why we choose to tag:

For ourselves, so that we can find resources later. For example Andy may tag an article
toread to remind himself that he intends to read the article later;

For others, so that others know what the resource is about. For example Bo may tag a picture
pig so that others know that it is a picture of a pig;

For automation, so that other systems know that this resource is meant to be aggregated by
them.

Recently we have worked on a project called Muvenation that involves working with teachers and
virtual worlds. As the project was starting when I wrote blog posts about it I would use the tag
Muvenation so I and others would know it was about that project. When I saw Web pages that were
relevant to the project I would tag them on del.icio.us and when I took relevant inworld screenshots I
would post them on flickr and tag them. Thus, this Muvenation tag became part of my Digital
Identity, and the resources they were linked to reflect on my Digital Identity.

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Image by dniezby in public domain available at http://openclipart.org/media/files/dniezby/3894

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Worksheet 8
Context
A tag cloud is a list of tags, where the size of the tag indicates the popularity of the tag; you can often
find tag clouds for individuals and for whole sites.
1)
The public tag cloud can be found for delicious at http://del.icio.us/tag. Look at this cloud
and select a tag that interests you, note down why you chose that tag.
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
Clicking on the tag in the tag cloud will take you to a list of resources tagged with that tag.
On the right in a blue box is a number indicating how many people have tagged that resource. Choose
a resource that looks interesting to you, note down why you chose that one.
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Clicking on the blue box will take you to a list of users who have bookmarked that resource,
you will see their delicious user names and any other tags they used with this resource, select one of
these and note why.
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
Click on their user name and then tags and you arrive at their tag cloud. Looking at this tag
cloud, what do you think they are interested in?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
You might like to look now at a tag cloud of your own or someone you know well and see if that
cloud really reflects interests.

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Check him out!


Worksheet 9
Imagine you are recruiting for a post. We are going to explore someones DI and see whether they
present a good, bad, indifferent or rather variable image to a would be employer. In a fit of
(foolhardy) bravery, I am going to suggest you use my DI to explore, and see what issues it raises.
For the purposes of this worksheet, pick a job for which you are employing someone. It could be a
Programmer, Web Designer, an Educator, an Office Administrator, a Researcher, or any other role,
but obviously, my DI fits certain some types of job better than others do (and some on that list are not
well supported by my DI!)
1)
Use a search engine to find out basic information about Pat Parslow. How does it differ to
searching for Patrick Parslow?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
2)
If you have a specific set of skills in mind for the post, does including them as key words in
the search provide better insights into my suitability for the role?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
3)
Does a search for everything except those keywords, in conjunction with my name provide
any insights or anything to worry about for you as a potential employer (e.g. if you exclude Academic
by searching for Pat Parslow -Academic on Google)?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
4)
What can you find on social networking sites about me? Do these create a good impression?
How about photographs or absence of them?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
5)
Now do the same sort of searches for yourself, or for someone you care about. Is there
anything in the results which makes you want to change what you find?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

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Activities

In addition to the worksheets, we have also found that the following games can help raise awareness
of Digital Identity issues for students and staff alike. All these games use cards to help focus
attention. We recommend printing and laminating these or other variations with which you come up.
Laminated cards not only last longer, but the players can write their own version of blog headlines on
them.
The games typically take about half an hour to run through five rounds more if people get into the
game and really start explaining what their blog posts are about.

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The Attention Game


Title:

Theme:

Target Audience

Format

The Attention Game (pt 1)

Recognising My DI

10yrs +

Game

Learning outcomes

How headlines grab attention


Whether matching content to role is important
Mixed mode (synchronous/asynchronous) communications (including turn taking)

Outline
Based on Attention Economy: The Game20, this simple card game focuses on obtaining the attention
of readers. There are variations covered below, but the basic format is that players are given a set of
laminated cards, some of which have pre-written blog post titles (these can also be considered to be
Facebook status messages or Tweets on Twitter).
Duration:
With 5 players and 5 turns, the game takes about 20 minutes in its basic form.
Resource links:
Sample Cards21
Description:
The game is played in turns. Each player, in turn, selects one of their headline cards to play, and lays
it on the table in front of them (keep them separate from each other). If desired, players can write
their own headline (using a dry marker pen so the cards are re-usable) or adds to the existing headline.
Once all the players have played a headline card, each player votes for the headline that has grabbed
their attention the most - it is probably best if they cannot vote for themselves! Keep a tally on a spare
blank card for each of the players.
In this form of the game there should be as many rounds as there are players - each round, a different
player plays their choice of card first. It is easiest to do this by starting each new round with the next
person round the table from the last starting player
Add up the points each player has earned and then award prizes for those who got the most.

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Questions to ask about the experience


What was most successful in grabbing your attention?
If you did not get much attention, how did that make you feel?
If someone else was getting attention, were you more likely to choose more extreme
headlines?
What do you feel your choice of headlines says about you?
Describe your impression of the other players, based on their headlines
Observations
There is a tendency for people to compete for attention, which can result in fairly high-risk strategies
in terms of headline wordings. Sometimes people grab attention by building on other peoples
previous posts.

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The Attention Game (pt 2)


Title:

Theme:

Target Audience

Format

The Attention Game (pt 2)

Recognising My DI

10yrs +

Game

Learning outcomes

How headlines grab attention


Whether matching content to role is important
Mixed mode (synchronous/asynchronous) communications (including turn taking)
Whether you can build a DI reflecting an aspect of your personality
How other people may view your choices

Outline
Based on Attention Economy: The Game22, this simple card game focuses on obtaining the attention
of readers. This version includes an element of role-playing to explore the possibilities of building a
specific view of your personality for others to see.
Duration:
With 5 players and 5 turns, the game takes about 20 minutes in its basic form.
Resource links:
Sample Cards23
Description:
Before play starts, each player chooses a role to play. For instance, they could be a party animal, a
serious researcher, a dotty scientist (thanks to Steven Warburton for this role!), or any other role
which suits the target audience age group. One of our play testers chose Sex columnist, which was
fine in the context of a group of eLearning specialists, but may not be suitable for younger age groups,
whilst another chose CyberGran, which could work at all ages.
Play proceeds exactly as The Attention Game pt 1 but players try to play headlines that suit their
chosen role. This does not mean that all plays need to be focused solely on the specific stereotype serious researchers have been known to go to a club and have some fun too!

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Questions to ask about the experience


What was most successful in grabbing your attention?
If you didn't get much attention, how did that make you feel?
If someone else was getting attention, were you more likely to choose more extreme
headlines?
What do you feel your choice of headlines says about you?
Describe your impression of the other players, based on their headlines
Does your choice of headlines reflect the role you chose?
How do you interpret what the other players blogs say about them?
Looking back at the way the game went, would you change your attention grabbing strategy?
Observations
Playing a role has a tendency to allow people to express opinions that are rather more radical - after
all, this is not them. It can also lead to people focusing narrowly on a specific aspect of the persona
they are trying to project - and there is a tendency for the result to look a little bit forced. You may
find that players do not feel they can trust the DIs that have been projected by the other players as
much as with the basic version.

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The Attention Game (pt 3)


Title:

Theme:

Target Audience

Format

The Attention Game (pt 3)

Managing My DI

10yrs +

Game

Learning outcomes

How headlines grab attention


Whether matching content to role is important
Mixed mode (synchronous/asynchronous) communications (including turn taking)
Whether you can 'build' a DI reflecting an aspect of your personality
How other people may view your choices
The effect of persistence of information on your DI

Outline
Based on Attention Economy: The Game24, this simple card game focuses on obtaining the attention
of readers. This version adds a twist at the end.
Duration:
With 5 players and 5 turns, this game takes about 30 minutes in its basic form.
Resource links:
Sample Cards25
Description:
This version works well combined with the role-playing option in pt 2.
Play proceeds exactly as The Attention Game pt 1. Once the total scores have been tallied, and
prizes given the tables are turned by asking Now look at your headlines from the perspective of an
employer, potential partner or family member looking back at the things you have written to see what
you are like - what sort of impression will your blog make on them?
You can even give a bit of a hint that things may be going to change by choosing to give a tacky
prize after the first part of the game. If you give one cheap prize to first place and two of the same to
second place, there is a slight hint that maybe winning the Attention Game is not the be-all and endall of the experience.

Questions to ask about the experience


What was most successful in grabbing your attention?
If you did not get much attention, how did that make you feel?
If someone else was getting attention, were you more likely to choose more extreme

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headlines?
What do you feel your choice of headlines says about you?
Describe your impression of the other players, based on their headlines
Does your choice of headlines reflect the role you chose?
How do you interpret what the other players blogs say about them?

Looking back at the way the game went, would you change your attention grabbing strategy?
Observations
The twist can run the risk with some types of people of leaving them feeling cheated - the only
defence against this is knowing your players and knowing whether it will be a problem. There seems
little point in advertising the twist beforehand, although this strategy may work and it is certainly
conceivable that people will still get caught up in the 'Attention grabbing' phase despite knowing that
they will be judged on the overall picture later.

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