Reflections Around my Digital Footprint

The first time I ever logged into my families Commodore 64, was 1983 and I was 6 years old. I wanted to play Letter Catcher. As time went on I was soon exposed to Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Math Blaster and Mavis Beacon typing programs…. fun times, but never permanent as every action involved plugging in a floppy disk.. I remember telling my mom in high school that the reason I wanted to be a psychologist was so that I could work with people instead of computers…. Then in 1995 I enter my undergraduate program at U of C, was given an email address and internet access and things began moving at a much faster pace. Who would have ever imagined how my relationship with computers and the internet would evolve.
Since 1995 I have personally accumulated vast amounts of data. Emails, phone calls, social network posts, photos, utility bills, health monitoring devices, text messages, browsing data, purchase receipts and more have formed a picture for the digital world about who I really am.
I have to say that earlier in my online career ignorance was bliss…. I posted whatever and whenever without a filter…. Thankfully many others were also innocent and nothing major happened.
Until #etmooc I had never really grasped the fact that data about my life is scattered everywhere, and that it is really accessible (even if I do take precautions to watch my security settings). Once I realized this I decided to look into my digital footprint more deeply, just to see what was out there. I started with the most basic search, googling my name and found hundreds of hits… hmmm
I consider #etmooc to be part of my PLE and therefore decided to look to my peers for suggestions on how delve deeper. Suggested sites provided during our Blackboard Collaborate session included: A place for people interested in self-tracking to gather, share knowledge and experiences, and discover resources Ghostery™ sees the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons. Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity. Powerful, Affordable Twitter Analytics. This site helps you monitor your brand on Twitter – Monitor tweets based on a word, phrase or query. Track a hashtag campaign – Capture every tweet with a certain hashtag and then do analysis. Perform academic research – Ideal for academics writing papers and doing sociological analysis. HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox and Chrome extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure According to the website a Locker is a container for personal data, which gives the owner the ability to control how it’s protected and shared. It retrieves and consolidates data from multiple sources, to create a single collection of the things you see and do online: the photos you take, the places you visit, the links you share, contact details for the people you communicate with, and much more.

Spiderman on Back To The Future vehicle

I’ll admit that in my earlier days I was naïve, but I no longer can place myself in that boat. I have found that my increased reflections have caused me to filter my perception to the whole world around me. I am reminded of Uncle Ben’s advice to Peter Parker in Spiderman “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”.
Yes I may have made mistakes in the past, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from them. I am also committed to sharing my insights with my children and students (all of which I consider to be vulnerable populations)…. I want to be open because I feel that Synergy is a force needed for progress…. But I also desire to model responsible digital citizenship…..
I think that I will keep a picture of my Chinese proverb on my screensaver

“If you don’t want anyone to find out … don’t do it”


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