Monday, 19 May 2014

Let's Get Digital.

It's a Digital World out there.

After taking part in the Digital Society class, I have realised that the 'Digital World' is so much more than simply my Digital Footprint. The world is changing, not only are we becoming more and more reliant on the capabilities of the internet, but we are changing the way we do things because of the internet. Take, for example, the recruitment industry. Finding the right person used to be a much more complicated, time consuming procedure, one that would often require the expertise of a recruiter. Due to their knowledge of the industry and their connections, they were much more able to attract and contact the right kind of candidates for a job. Nowadays, we have LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals; your profile on LinkedIn is much like an online CV (see mine below). Through LinkedIn, not only can recruiters utilise the platform's ability to make connections and find people, but so can companies themselves. This can often eliminate the need for a recruiting expert.

Digital Tools in the Group Project.

Throughout this module, it wasn't just the group task that involved using our knowledge of digital; we used multiple online tools for project management and communication. As a group, we used an online Agile project management tool called Trello; if you haven't heard of it, think of it as an interactive 'to-do' list. We also used Facebook Groups to aid our communication, using polls to find out when everyone was free to meet . The final digital tool that we really did utilise was Google Docs; because in our group, we had extremely different timetables meaning that meeting up to work on a document together couldn't happen often. Using Google Docs allowed us to collaboratively work on a report without needing to be in the same room at the same time. This concept is an emerging trend. Through the ability to connect with their colleagues through internet tools and negating the need to actually be in the same room, 30 million Americans are now working from home at least once a week (Forbes, 2013). Through the use of the internet and the tools it enables, the need for actual face to face contact, especially in business, is diminishing.

The Digital Divide.

"The future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed" - William Gibson, 1993

The use of the internet is massive, 1 in 4 people in the world are using social media, with that figure expecting to rise to 2.7 people out of 4 by 2017 (eMarketer, 2013). Yet, there are still so many people left behind; this is known as the digital divide. The problem stands that although the majority of people in the UK and the US have access to the internet and digital facilities, there are countries in Africa that have little or no access.You might think, 'It's just a bit of social media, surely people can live without that...', but really think about how much you rely on the internet on a day to day basis. Think about all this information you have access to: information that 4.4 billion people in the world do not yet have access to (International Telecommunications Union, 2013). Then, think about what some countries could do with access to all that information. In African countries, where the access to the internet is one of the lowest, access to the internet could allow people to find out more about diseases such as AIDs, know the symptoms so it can be caught early. Children who live too far away from the nearest school could use the internet to attend online classes, as in some countries such as Vietnam, not only are the schools far away, but the journey there is unsafe due to the economic situation in that country. Access to online digital learning tools could transform learning in such countries.

So how can we begin closing that gap in the digital divide? It's not just third world countries without full access to the internet, parts of the UK have such bad broadband connections that access to the internet is sometimes impossible. The areas of the UK that are affected, such as areas of Scotland, area often the places where children could also benefit from eLearning systems. Similarly, of the 17% of the UK without internet access, 10% cannot afford it (ONS Survey, 2013). Therefore, in order to begin conquering the digital divide, access to internet and computers needs to be made more affordable, and at the rate technology is improving and increasing, with the average smartphone costing around £200, this needs to happen fast.

Learning to Code Before We Can Talk.

Despite there still being an issue surrounding access to the internet and the digital divide, in the areas that do have access, the digital landscape is booming. We are becoming much more active digital users as opposed to passively reading content that appears on our screens. We are creating content, we are interaction with other people's content, we are building websites, building programs. We are even teaching children as young as 5 how to code - and I think this is a great thing. Using simple pieces of coding technology such as Raspberry Pi, schools can begin to teach children how to use html and code to do anything a mini web browser (CNet, 2012) to a arcade game (CNet, 2012).

Something Needs to Change.

As incredible as the possibilities of teaching children to code are, this could create a new digital divide. As opposed to simply not having access to the internet, there will be those who were never brought up being able to code that will now be left behind. And I'll be one of them. I have grown up with the internet, I would consider myself to be digitally literate (Gilster, 1997) and a e-mersive user of the internet (Dutton, Blank & Groselj, 2013) however I cannot code. As competent as I am at trying to learn new skills, without proper training I feel like I am being left behind. If the advancements in technology don't start being accessible for everyone, then the digital divide will continue to grow, leaving more and more people behind until there are just an elite few who could be considered completely digitally literate which will completely defeate the object of the internet - information accessible by everyone. Something needs to change.


CNet. 2012. 25 fun things to do with a Raspberry Pi [online] Available at: [Last Accessed 16/5/14]

Dutton, W.H., Blank, G. & Groselj, D. 2013. Cultures of the Internet: The Internet of Britain. Oxford Internet Survey 2013, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford.

eMarketer. 2013. Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates [online] Available at: [Last Accessed 15/5/14]

Forbes. 2013. One in Five Americans Working from Home, Numbers Seen Rising Over 60% [online] Available at: [Last accessed 15/5/14]

Gibson, W. 1993

Gilster, P. 1997. Digital Literacy, John Wiley & Sons, Canada

International Telecommunications Union. 2013. ITU Releases Latest Tech Figures & Global Rankings [online] Available at: [Last Accessed 15/5/14]

ONS. 2013. Office of National Statistics: 2013 Survey [online] Available at: [Last Accessed 15/5/14]

Sunday, 23 February 2014

My Digital Footprint

What is a Digital Footprint?

Nowadays everyone is online, which means that your digital footprint is more important than ever. Your digital footprint comprises your digital identity (the way that you are presented online) and all your online activity. This includes (but is not limited to) your social media accounts, comments you have left on websites, the people that you are connected with and interact with online and even your online passport details. As Alastair Patterson said at the 2013 Wired Money event: "it's now possible to have a digital footprint before you're born, before you've even taken actual footsteps" with ultrasound photos cropping up on social media sites being an increasingly common occurrence.

The "Self-Google"

After examining my own digital identity and digital footprint, I discovered that my online identity is extremely easily discoverable with a simple Google search. One reason, perhaps, for my large digital footprint is that I would class myself as a digital e-mersive; an internet culture whereby the internet users take part in digital activity in most aspects of their life and are completely comfortable and at home in the online world (Dutton, Blank & Groselj, 2013). Because of my self-admitted "e-mersive" status, I have profiles and accounts with so many different sites. Throughout my digital life (the time since I first had home access to a computer, aged 10) I have never thought twice about signing up to different sites; I have entered my email address, created a password and thought nothing more of it. Until now; until the dreaded self-Google that brought up almost two full search pages of my countless accounts and profiles. Of course I expected my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to appear, but it was the image search results that actually made me stop and think about how much information I readily give out online. The Google image search not only brought up my avatars from my social media accounts, but amongst the pictures of "Ellen Holcombs" and "Mary-Ellen Holcombes" were pictures of my family and friends who are obviously part of my digital identity by association.

A Large Digital Footprint: Good or Bad?

So I had established that I have a rather large, easily discoverable digital footprint; that must be a bad thing right? The answer is: not necessarily. It's true that I don't want every aspect of my home and work life available to anyone at the click of a button, however I'd consider myself to be digitally literate (Gilster, 1997), which I believe to include being able to use privacy settings within sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to control who sees what on my profiles. Particularly over the past couple of years, I've thought carefully about what information I allow to be seen by strangers online and posted on social media only what I would be happy for a future employer to see.


My Facebook profile is for personal use only, which means that I am only friends with people that I know in real life. If I take a look at my profile from the perspective of a complete stranger, all I can see is a couple of photos and a couple of "interests" such as music and athletes. I have made sure that my privacy settings only allow friends to see anything that I post meaning that although my Facebook profile is on the first page of Google results when searching my name, it does not give away any personal information apart from my name and what I look like.


On the other hand, although on Twitter you can choose to make your profile private, I chose to keep my account open which enables anyone to see all my previous posts, the accounts that I follow, the accounts that follow me and allows any Twitter user to retweet my posts. This is because I use Twitter for both personal and professional use. I use my account to post content relevant to the career path I wish to take after graduating. I ultimately would like to work in digital marketing, a sector in which having an active digital identity is incredibly important, especially in a world that is creeping towards (almost) total digital immersion. Patti Wilson (2014) (a careers expert and consultant to the LinkedIn CEO) states on her blog that "a blank social media history is going to be a bad social media history" and that soon "your web presence will soon be more valuable than your credit rating". With regards to future employers, this quote shows that it is more worrying to see a blank social media history as the employer could them assume that perhaps your past online activity was so inappropriate that it needed to be deleted, just as a blank credit history is treated in the same way as a bad credit rating.

No Footprint, No Control

When researching the importance of a digital footprint, I cam across an idea that had never even crossed my mind. In his article "when being too private on Facebook can actually be a bad thing", Adam Dachis (2012) suggested that if you aren't active on social media sites and don't regularly post content, your digital identity be created for you through other people's posts. You have no control over the content other people post, therefore if their content is about you and you have no digital activity of your own, then their content becomes your digital identity.


After evaluating my own digital footprint and exploring why the size and nature of your digital footprint matters, I have established that although my digital footprint is easily accessible and my digital identity spans across many different social platforms, that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Providing that you use social media sensibly, keeping your desired audience in mind and managing privacy settings, a large digital footprint can be beneficial, particularly when entering the world of work.


Dachis, A. 2012. When Being Too Private on Facebook Can Actually Be a Bad Thing. LifeHacker Website [online] Available at: [Last accessed 23/2/14]

Dutton, W.H., Blank, G. & Groselj, D. 2013. Cultures of the Internet: The Internet of Britain. Oxford Internet Survey 2013, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford.

Gilster, P. 1997. Digital Literacy, John Wiley & Sons, Canada

Patterson, A via Collins, K. 2013. Monitoring digital footprints to prevent reputation damage and cyber attacks. Wired Technology Website [online] Available at: [Last accessed 23/2/14]

Wilson, P. 2014. Having a Bigger One Wins In Digital Footprints. Patti Wilson Blog [online] Available at: [Last accessed 23/2/14]