As a history teacher, I love to find the individual stories of people’s personal experiences as they live through historical events. Although learning about the major events the past is essential, it is the personal stories that make these events real. I recently spent a week a Library of Congress exploring primary documents. Uncovering letters and documents from real people, and reading about even some of the most mundane daily tasks brought life to the otherwise ordinary events. I learned quite a bit about people and families that are otherwise lost to history. But each document told someone’s story. I wonder about the lives of those didn’t record their stories…
The papers that have lasted over the centuries are better than any treasure. What we can learn about people from ordinary documents is remarkable. But I find myself wondering about how future learners will learn about history. So much of our lives –personal and professional- is being recorded in the form of posts, tweets, images, etc. How will historians be able to sort through all of these digital records in order to tell the story of the past? Is it a good thing or a bad thing for the future historians that so much information will be available? Will anyone care about my digital footprint? These are the questions that come to mind as I think about the digital footprints that we leave.
Have you ever Googled your name? I have, and I must admit that my digital footprint is nothing spectacular. According to How Many of Me I am the only person in the world with my name. Which is both good and bad. There is a slim chance that some other Cinnamon Johnsrud will ever put inappropriate or questionable content online which may lead someone into thinking it’s me. So in that respect, I am glad I’m the only one. For now, my digital footprint isn’t particularly revealing. I think if anyone were to Google my name, they would know that I am involved in education, perhaps as a teacher, and that’s about it.
The first thing that appears when I google my name is my Twitter account. My Twitter account is used solely for professional purposes which establishes my role as an educator. The next link that appears is my personal Facebook page which is set to private. Anyone exploring it may see that my profile picture is a picture of my family, but no other information is available. The other links that are associated with my name are by Boise State work including my digital portfolio and my blog. There are also links to the school I work at, the district I work for, etc. Nothing is exceptional or too personal. What I did find interesting was the fact that the images of “Cinnamon Johnsrud” include many images of people I work with and people who I do not know. (How does this happen?)
This leads me back to the essential questions I established at the beginning of this post. What does my digital footprint say about me and how will people in the future understand me as a person? While I am grateful that there isn’t anything questionable, I don’t think that the information online reveals who I am really am, either. As I continue to think about my digital footprint, I wonder how much of myself I should reveal. While I am an educator, there is much more to me than that. Should those aspects be revealed or should I keep that part of my life private? Does it matter?
Keeping my online reputation positive, honest, and safe is certainly a priority. My efforts to make sure that happens begins now!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/penbentley/11092069533