Your Digital Presence

This activity, which we’ll complete in stages throughout the semester, is designed to help you think about how your name and work appear right now on the Internet and make a plan for your digital presence going forward. Please complete this work in your doc. You will be invited to share an excerpt or a summary in our doc.

If you currently publish under a pseudonym (for social media purposes or otherwise), it might be useful to explore that name as well.

Your Digital Presence

  • Begin by making a list of the ideal readers of your public work. These ideal readers could include a future employer, a customer interested in buying a product you’re selling, a new colleague, a new friend, or some other ideal reader.
  • Now, imagine that you are one of these ideal readers and Google your name to see if anything you’ve already written online or done in the world shows up in the results. It might be necessary to log out of social media accounts or use a browser you don’t regularly use to better approximate what someone else would discover.
  • Still pretending to be this ideal reader, make notes on what you think of the results.
  • Remember that even if the work you’ve done doesn’t show up in the first page of results, your work may still be findable on the Internet. Make a list of all your social media accounts that are publicly viewable and any instances that you know you appeared in the news.
  • Still pretending to be this ideal reader, make notes on what you think of these slightly harder-to-find elements of your digital presence.
  • Take a moment to write down any things you would like to change about your digital presence. If you have questions for me that you’d rather not ask in our doc, please feel free to send me an e-mail.

Your Digital Presence in Relation to Platforms

Platforms abound for publishing your work online. We will encounter a few this semester and I’ll invite you to create accounts if you’re interested (none are required). For example, this course website is published at our University’s instance of OpenLab, a version of WordPress customized for use in higher education. I’ll invite you to create an account and decide what your profile name should be, what you will use as your avatar, and how you will describe yourself (we’ll go over the details for joining the OpenLab as well). I can also show you how you can create your own project or personal portfolio on the site to showcase your work as a student. If you decide, eventually, to create an account with Hypothesis, you’ll get to make the same decisions again (we’ll go over the details for getting started with Hypothesis in a future class). And the same thing applies to Zotero. All of the resources I’ve gathered for our course and my notes and tags for those resources are in a public Zotero library. You can use Zotero without sharing your sources and notes, but if you want to contribute to our public library, you’ll want to take care in selecting your username and placing a license on your work for the library. The important thing to note is that with each new platform you choose to join, you also get to decide how to present yourself, how much of your work to make public, and (in some cases) how to license your work.

The Digital Presence of Bloggers

There are lots of platforms for bloggers (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.). Some writers use a pseudonym when blogging while others use their own names. Some writers approach blogging primarily as a way to reach an audience while others might treat it more as a business, attracting traffic to their site that will allow them to place ads that generate revenue. As you explore a blogger you have found, consider what seems to be motivating this writer and how they are likely perceived by their ideal audience and beyond.

  • Search the Internet for a topic you love reading about (it can be absolutely anything) and try to find a blog on the topic (as opposed to the website for a newspaper or magazine). If you already know of someone blogging in this area, you can go straight to their site.
  • Try to find an “about” or “bio” page for the site (share the link in our doc if you feel comfortable!).
  • What can you learn about this person from this bio? Do they have a digital presence outside of the site?
  • What connections can you find between any training/experience they describe on the site and the topics they write about?
  • Does this matter?

The Digital Presence of Wikipedians

  • Each platform for digital publication has slightly different conventions. As you’ll see with the next step of this activity, it is most common for Wikipedia users to use a pseudonym.
  • Visit Wikipedia’s website and navigate to an article that interests you. Take your time to pick something the genuinely interests you–you’re going to be spending a bit of time with this article and the Wikipedians who have helped to create it. Look at the history of the article and click on a username that intrigues you (share the link in our doc if you feel comfortable!)
  • What can you learn about this person? Can you find the actual person?
  • What connections can you find between any training/experience they describe and the contributions they’ve made?
  • Does this matter?

Your Digital Presence in Relation to Wikipedia

I want you to take care in crafting your profile for the platform you use for our Wikipedia project (the final assignment of the semester). You have a choice between Wikipedia or our course website (created on OpenLab) as your platform for this project. You can decide to create a pseudonym or use your own name for either platform. You can also engage fully with this assignment even if you don’t make your work public. I strongly encourage you to create a Wikipedia account, but this is not required (it is possible to complete trainings in our Wiki Education dashboard without an account).

Note that if you choose to join Wikipedia and join our course dashboard, Wikipedia will automatically add the following information to your userpage:

This user is a student editor in University_of_New_Haven/Seminar_in_Academic_Inquiry_and_Writing_(Fall_2021).

Essentially, creating a Wikipedia account and joining the course dashboard links your user account with our course and adds your username to a list alongside other student editors of Wikipedia.

  • Do you think you’d like to be seen as a student when you contribute to Wikipedia?
  • What are some pros and cons of being seen in this way?
  • Do you think you’d like people to see that you’re enrolled in this course?
  • What are some pros and cons of being seen with this affiliation?
  • After completing this work, please think a bit about how you want your work in this course to factor into your digital presence. Do you want anything you publish in this course linked to the name/s you’ve explored in this exercise?

If you decide to create a Wikipedia account (I hope you do!), please share your username below your name in our doc. You might have some difficulty creating the account yourself (students on campus may encounter an IP block), so you can also indicate if you’d like me to create the account for you and I’ll try to get as close to your desired username as possible. After you’ve done this, please also include, under your name in our doc, a summary or excerpts of what you’ve written in your doc. We’ll discuss as everyone starts to share there.