23 Things: Thing 3 or why I am conflicted about digital footprints…

Thing 3 is all about your Digital Footprint …. I don’t often google myself but when I do, I do so with some trepidation. Thankfully if you google lorna m campbell you get a fairly innocuous footprint.  The top six hits are:

  1. My blog. Rather annoyingly it’s my old blog on wordpress.com, rather than my new blog on Reclaim Hosting.
  2. My twitter account.
  3. My author bio on the University of Edinburgh’s Teaching Matter’s website.
  4. Aggregated blog posts on Open.Ed.
  5. My profile on the Cetis website.
  6. The Amazon page for a book I’ve just written: Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable.  Blatant plug.

And if you look for images you’ll mostly find me, or people I’ve worked with, or blogged about.


It’s all very professional as I’m well aware of the idea of digital footprints and the necessity of not letting the streams cross.  Having said that, I am also rather conflicted about the whole concept of the digital footprint.  I do allow a lot of my personal identity to bleed into my professional digital footprint as I see this as being an integral part of being an open education practitioner.  However I also actively curate my digital footprint, I am careful about what I post where and I have some digital channels that I choose to keep private.   But I still have very mixed feeling about this.

How much should we allow our professional identities dictate how we interact online?  At what point does curating your digital footprint become a form of self censorship? Who regulates what is deemed to be acceptable and professional behaviour in which contexts? And as our personal and professional selves increasingly bleed together online, where do the boundaries of these regulations lie?

There are some really thorny issues here.  I’m concerned that a lot of the complex issues around the control of online identity often get brushed under the carpet and I think that worries me more than having digital footprints that stray all over the internet.  I’d be very interested to know what others think about this.

23 Things: Thing 1 and Thing 2

“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
The Cat in the Hat, Dr Seuss

I’m belatedly jumping on board with the University of Edinburgh’s 23 Things course, which is being facilitated by my colleague Charlie Farley in the Open Education Team.  23 Things for Digital Knowledge is a self-directed course that aims to

“expose you to a range of digital tools for your personal and professional development as a researcher, academic, student, or professional. The aim is for you to spend a little time each week over the semester, building up and expanding your skills.”

Thing 1 Introduction

“Register for the course and familiarise yourself with the program and the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers.”

Okay, done both of those.

Thing 2 Blogging

Register your blog with 23 Things….done, Open World is now registered.

“Use your blog to write a short post about:

A) what you hope to gain out of the 23 Things programme.

B) were you aware of the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers or the student Social Media Student Handbook? What do you think of the guidelines/handbook?”

So, what do I hope to gain from 23 Things?  Well, I use a whole host of social media channels routinely and I’m so familiar with them that perhaps I don’t give them the thought and consideration as I should.  I have to confess that I’m pretty blasé about my social media presence, so I think one of the things I want to gain from this course is to step back and actually think about how I present myself online and engage with my peers. Also I want to see if I can actually finish the course.  I very rarely sign up for online courses because I already have so many commitments above ad beyond work, and I hate starting something and not being able to finish it :}

I was aware of the University’s social media guidelines but I have to confess that I hadn’t actually read the handbook.  I’ve read it now, a quick skim admittedly, and while a lot of it is common sense, there were one or two parts which made me go hmmm…..particularly the recommendation that staff or researchers “always obtain approval for any new personal social media presence.”  I’m not entirely sure how necessary or realistic that is tbh.   I was also a bit puzzled by “make sure you offer an equal level of service for members of our audiences who find social networks inaccessible.”  What exactly does that mean if you’re blogging about work on a personal blog? Should I also make my blog posts available through another channel or in a different medium?  I’m curious to know that this really means in practice.