Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Footsteps in the Concrete

Well before the age of the internet people had to take measures to ensure their privacy, whether it was closing curtains, talking discreetly, or being cautious when it came to providing personal details to others.

Now, the internet provides a completely different way for us to unwittingly expose our private lives to anyone who is curious enough to look.

A quick Google search of my own name suddenly realized a slew of entries, each providing possible insights into how I may be living my life. Surprisingly I found an entry for a paper I published at university 14 years ago in the Australian Journal of Chemistry! It was unnerving to think that something that occurred long ago has cast a digital shadow across my immediate present.

Fortunately, an entry like this is one that would be perceived in a positive light. It brought home to me how aware we must all be, of how our digital footprint can extend beyond us and this moment of “now”, and on into infinity.

The idea of future employers viewing our digital life and making hiring decisions based on this is a strange concept. Earlier in the year, Mr. Bates spoke to the middle school about the dangers of this, in particular regard to social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. In all my years of attending assemblies, it was perhaps the quietest and attentive I had ever heard a group of kids be. I could sense their mental gears processing all the times they had posted/commented/tagged on the internet. It was as if this was the first time they had considered this possibility; this is not surprising, if we as educators are yet to embed this as a concept into our day-to-day teaching of technological literacy.

The good news is that there appears to be ways to deal with having an unsavory digital footprint. Requesting people to take down unflattering photos and employing outside agencies to sanitize your trail can be some approaches to take. Another, more self-driven and proactive option may be to make the decision to ensure that your footsteps leave behind a legacy of material that sculpts you in a positive light.

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