Week 2 (13/8): Who are you?

Who will you be online? Photo: Frederic Poirot/flickr/CC
Photo: Frederic Poirot/flickr/CC

Who will you be online?

TOPIC: Curating your digital history, continuing with WordPress, thinking about design/branding for a professional online identity

READ: The Australian Government’s eSafety siteResources for exploring digital identity, privacy and authenticity by Catherine Cronin of NUI, Galway.

FURTHER READING (highly recommended!)Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics, by Bon Stewart.

CLASS EXERCISES: It’s interesting – and maybe a little worrying – that many of us publish intimate information about ourselves, our friends and our families online almost daily. Self-publishing on the Internet can be a wonderful thing – good bloggers can attract an audience without needing to be mediated by the gatekeepers of “mainstream” media, which means it can be easier to break into the industry. Social media networks are an exciting way to make professional contacts, and also to stay in touch with people you like and love. But to begin publishing anywhere you need to understand both the legal and personal implications of broadcasting information.

If you want to pursue a career in the media you will need to understand how the laws of defamation and subjudice apply to online and social media. In this class we’ll be dealing with the personal: I’d like you to step back and try to take a critical look at the information you’ve posted so far about yourself and the people you know. It’s extremely difficult for you to think forward to a time when your older self may not want to see evidence of how you misspent your youth. It is easier, however, for you to imagine being different people (your mum, your teacher, your ex, a policeman) and then imagine their reactions to your online self. This kind of self-reflection is important if you’re going to allow pieces of your private self into the public sphere. Thinking twice before posting a status update or photo, or tweeting, is a good practice – think of it as looking before you leap.

Posting stupid stuff isn’t always a disaster. Sometimes it’s just plain embarrassing. But once you’ve started to build a personal history on the web, it’s very hard to erase details you’d prefer to forget. If there’s anything on your social media networks that you’d prefer your parents or your boss didn’t see, get rid of it now.


1. Write down five words that describe the person you want to be online. Would those words change if the person viewing your profile was your best friend, your mum, your boss, your TAFE teacher?

2. Role play: inhabit the identity of one of the people above and look at the social media account/s of a classmate. What does their online presence tell you about their personality? Would you want to hire them?

3. Look critically at your social media accounts, and consider removing any photos or other content which might compromise your professional identity, or at least ensure that your photos and other personal details are visible only to friends. NB. Facebook is notorious for changing privacy settings, so make sure you’re aware of who can see into your private life.

4. Google yourself. And then do a Google Image search for your name. Are there any results you’d prefer an employer didn’t see?


1. Open a Twitter account. Your user name should be professional, though you may use a pseudonym, and you can change your user name later. Upload an avatar, write a bio, and start finding people to follow.

2. If you don’t have one, open a Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive account. These are useful for backing up your own work, and being able to get to it from anywhere. But perhaps more importantly, they’re great for sharing work and collaborating.

3. Have a look at Evernote. It’s a brilliant resource for keeping everything from research to recipes, and might be a good way to organise contacts. (Also recommended for the Diploma Media Project.)


Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

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