Being me on the internet

We are technically in the second week of EC&I 832 but I am just finishing up week 1 as my weekend was derailed in unexpected ways (the result being a drive to Chaplan and then limping home a car with a donut spare going 60 km/h down the highway).


flickr photo shared by mgstanton (taking a bit of a break) under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Catching up on comments and posts, I thought a good place to start my reflections on media literacies and digital citizenship would be to consider who I am on the internet and who has influenced how I think about it. For starters, I’ve been on the internet and chatting and connecting with people regularly for quite a while. I found myself pretty quickly sucked into chat rooms. I never really had the urge to be someone else although I did get into role play chat rooms which focused on creating characters and intentionally interacting with others and writing stories as your character. But again, it was intentional and there were ways to set out when you were being yourself and when you were being a character. I didn’t always use my real name but I didn’t really invent a persona, either.

Now that I work in education, I have a public self that I perform on the internet. I am Kirsten J. Hansen (I had to use my middle initial because there are so many Scandinavian Kirsten Hansens that many things were taken if I tried to use that name). I use my actual picture so people can find me if we meet at a conference or if I tweet something, someone would also know that this blog over here is me also, or my Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. I try to keep them all the same although Facebook I worry less since I use that mostly for personal use.

Saying that I use Facebook for personal use means something, though. I choose who I connect with on Facebook and limit it because the things I post there are not necessarily things that someone looking for an instructional designer needs or wants to know. I might occasionally reference other things I do in professional spaces but I am unlikely to blog about what I’ve baked or what crafts I am working on. I might occasionally talk about books and if you look at who I follow on Twitter you will be able to guess that I think of myself as a geek and a nerd. You might see that I like tea (not coffee). I might occasionally tweet about a contest I’m entering. It is the me you would meet if you came into the office. That is not necessarily the me you would meet if you came over to my house for supper or the me you would meet on Facebook. That is why I talk about performing myself on the internet. I still separate things out, I am different versions of me in different spaces. I cross the streams occasionally but some things will only be shared in specific spaces.

That also means that there are some people I enjoy reading professionally who I likewise may not know a whole lot about. I probably am not close enough to consider them a friend although I have suspicions that I would like at least some of them personally. Audrey Watters is one of those people. I greatly appreciate how she performs herself on the internet. I also really admire the things she writes and talks about. She shares some of who she was before she became well known in ed-tech circles. She talks occasionally about her son. Mostly she focuses on the business at hand, that of the business of educational technology.

Derek Bruff is another person I admire on the internet. I like his positioning at the intersections of learning and social and technology. He has great suggestions for how to ask questions using clickers (which works great for polling software also). Lately he’s talked a lot about social pedagogies. He has shared stories from his own teaching. His personality comes through in his writing and I appreciate his passion for the learning of his students.

Another person on the internet who has influenced me is danah boyd. I know she is on our list this semester as someone we will encounter which is great. She looks at how youth, especially teens, perform themselves with technology. She has written great articles about privacy and what it means to teenagers. She shares bits of discussions with her own daughter. She is somewhat less open, at least in what I’ve seen and read, than some of the others out there, but she writes some really interesting things that give me glimmers of how the world is changing and where it might go from here.

Alec Couros, our instructor, has also had an impact. Taking EC&I 831 two years ago really reinforced my desire to be myself, at least most of myself, on the internet. He models good practices and is open about his own questions about how he performs himself on the internet. It was a pretty big topic of discussion in that previous course which had me thinking about it.

There are more people I watch in various spaces, seeing how they perform themselves, and others I have learned from, but those are three big ones who have had me thinking about how I perform myself or how I might suggest students (or instructors) could perform themselves.

So what about you? Do you consider what you do on the internet to be “performing”? Are you exactly the same no matter the situation, digital or no? Do you separate out spaces for specific things?

And who do you watch to see how to be yourself on the internet?

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