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Posts Tagged ‘identity

As much as I dislike Facebook (FB) for how it operates and what it stands for, I laugh at the call to #deletefacebook.

Not everyone can afford to. Not everyone should. For example, your FB profile might be the simplest way to stay connected with others socially and/or professionally. You may also need to verify your identify with sites like AirBnB using FB.

When we use FB, we trade some privacy and personal data for connection and convenience. The problems lie in how FB uses (or abuses) our data and how much we choose to share.

We cannot control the former because FB’s processes are not transparent and it is not tightly regulated. For example, it took more digging only after the Cambridge Analytica scandal for us to learn that FB monitors our Messenger conversations and archived user videos after they deleted them.

Instead the onus is on us to manage what and how much we share. That is a bigger problem than FB policies and practices. Why? First consider the “rule of threes”.

The “rule of threes” is that a person can survive for about three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Many find their voice and shape their identities on FB. Depending on how much they rely on it, FB might be their air, water, or food.

This is also why I think most programmes that claim to “detox” you from FB or any other social media platform are nonsense. Unless you are addicted, there is no need for a detox.

The more we realise that social media is a modern necessity and not a luxurious option, the clearer our thinking, and the better our approaches to managing it. Each of us needs to find a healthy balance.

As for me, I only use FB like a passport. FB was cool and cute in its younger days, like a tiger cub. Now older, larger, and more powerful, it has grown into its natural instincts — it is no longer your pet or friend or under your control. FB no longer appreciates what you feed it; it sees you as a complete meal.

So I place a barrier between FB and me. I still am associated with FB, but I can say that I mostly own my FB identity. It does not own me.

Sometimes I leave home without my wallet. In my wallet are various forms of identification, of which the most important is my national identity card.

I wonder if I am asked to prove my identity that what I have on my phone will suffice. After all, I use a biometric to unlock it. Alternatively, I use a code that only I know.

Once the phone is unlocked, I can launch apps with another round of verification with biometrics that show:

  • Scans of my identify card and passport
  • Credit cards in Apple Pay
  • Bank accounts via apps
  • Store accounts via apps
  • Various bills and statements via apps

I also have photos and videos of me and my family on my phone. My social and other media apps are linked to my identity.

Like most people, I would freak out if I lost or damaged my phone. If there was a fire at home, the first thing I would reach for is my phone. If there was an emergency, my phone would be my lifeline.

I am certain most people would relate to this sentiment: You wring my phone only from my cold, dead hands.

Our phones are insidiously and significantly linked to us. So why are some classrooms still so phone-resistant, phone-absent, or phone-ignorant? Why are administrative bodies still so paper-based? Why are both so stuck in the past?

I am not asking you to prepare for the future. I am just asking that you stay relevant to the present.

Last week I tweeted this opinion piece.

The article makes valid and important points, but one example troubled me.

Take the wearing of the school uniform, a practice that has been in place since before independence. By enforcing a standard dress code, schools send a symbolic message that students are all equal in the school environment, and reduce comparisons between students based on the brands and provenances of their clothes.

You can make people wear the same thing, but you cannot make them the same. Individuals wear those clothes and they can tell each other apart not just on looks but also on status.

Wearing a uniform is more about alignment, not conformity. It is about the values you associate with whether you already have them or will learn them.

Uniforms should be about identity, not equality. Let’s not confuse the two.

Video source

A tongue-in-cheek look at the how your digital footprints can follow you.

And bite you in the butt.

I had an interesting conversation with a group from the Academy of Singapore Teachers yesterday. The group met me to find out my thoughts on the fuzzy topic of e-learning.

As usual, it was an opportunity to consolidate my own beliefs and convictions on e-learning. As usual, I think I learnt as much as I shared.

We uncovered a fair bit of ground, but two tangential questions that I thought were interesting were:

  • How did you develop your online identity?
  • How might an online community sustain itself?

I answered the first question in the context of my Twitter identity or Twidentity as I like to call it. I went through these stages:

  • Toying or trying: Figuring out how to use Twitter and whether it suited me
  • Connecting: Following people that were of interest to me, e.g., other educators and administrators
  • Sharing: Contributing links to resources that were important to me and might be important to those following me
  • Re-connecting: Re-evaluating who to follow, culling followers who were not following the correct @ashley, meeting face-to-face the people I met on Twitter
  • Contributing: As a voice in a real community linked by the hashtag #edsg thanks to the efforts of @tucksoon and @shamsensei.

My Twidentity is nowhere complete. It is still being formed as I learn and interact with the folks I know and meet.

How does a community like #edsg sustain itself? I think that it does so generously and selfishly.

The unit of any community is the individual. The individual needs to make himself or herself valuable or risk being marginalized.

Some online members just lurk, but those that do are not particularly useful. They might add to the quantity of the community but do little to its quality. So a community might sustain itself simply because the individuals need to “selfishly” keep themselves and the community going.

This collective “selfishness” becomes a generous act because the whole community benefits from what might stem from selfish sharing.

Digital Footprint by kyteacher, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  kyteacher 

Call it what you want, digital identity, footprints, or shadows, they are all very important in this day and age. This fact was reinforced during my trip to Australia last week.

As is the norm now, we checked up on our hosts and they on us before we met in person.

Of the team of four from NIE, I do not think I would be tooting my horn if I guessed that my online presence was the most obvious. This blog and my tweet stream were probably the gateways to other digital artefacts of mine. Collectively, they left so large a digital impression on some of our hosts that we spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about e-learning and ICT.

Building up one’s social and reputational capital online is important today. I recall reading an article where a company abandoned resumes altogether and relied on the digital artefacts of prospective employees. It is hard to visit a university where graduating students are not required to maintain an e-portfolio of some sort.

More recently my Twitter PLN surfaced at least two interesting articles debating the merits and pitfalls of social media in schools.

The short story: School administrators and parents might be worried about social media as a distraction, but banning the use of the tools takes away teaching moments and does not prepare kids for their present and future.

If we as adults can already see the value (and some dangers) of the social and reputational capital that stem from our online presence, this will be even more important for our kids. Keeping an e-portfolio is not enough. What kids do in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube also matters, perhaps even more so.

Kids aside, I sometimes wonder if I will ever see the day where academic staff are appraised largely this way. The traditional appraisal tries to capture this element, but because it is limited to paper, it cannot hyperlink.

Earlier this year, one head asked me if I knew of any staff in NIE who had e-portfolios that she could showcase at her academic group’s retreat. Sadly, I did not, so I shared mine and a few of my staffs’ portfolios (with their permission, of course). That head remarked how we seem to make our student teachers maintain e-portfolios, but do not walk that talk ourselves!

I think it will happen slowly as academic staff start joining in that conversation and take a walk down that inevitable digital path.


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