Creating, Cultivating, Reflecting on my Digital Presence


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When I started my thoughts on what is a digital presence, I asked friends, collogues, and even several inherent strangers what they thought of their own digital presence. Most of the responses centered around social media, and the degree to which they participated in these platforms.

This got me thinking, is this the only way we can create a digital identity? Is a digital identity the same as knowing someone in real life, but simply replaced with pictures instead of memories? Written words and comments instead of spoken conversations? I think not. I challenged myself to think about the word identity first, and digital second. Let me present a concept to you: my nephew is 16 months old, and if you go to take a picture of him with your phone (, he immediately strikes a pose, then wants to see the image. Now I am by no means an expert on child developmental psychology, but is this him forming an identity of himself? When do we start being aware of our own identity? And if I post this picture online, does this start to create his digital identity? Are we even responsible for creating our own digital identity or can other people form part of it too?

Alas, I had to rein it in and focus on who I wanted to be in this digital existence, and the purpose of creating my own digital identity.

My approach to creating a digital presence focusses on growing my knowledge of the tools available to me. I hope to use these tools to expand my presence online in the areas I want to be a part of. My goals include contributing to the conversations, not just observing them. First, I need to know where these conversations are happening.  Second, I need to establish myself as someone who is worthy of being in the conversation. By creating an identity of an educator, a student, and a contributor I can form an identity as an active participant, not just an observer. Third, I hope to measure these successes through you all, all who read this, who also learn and contribute. My goal of creating a digital identity is to allow me to be a member of digital communities. Rheingold (2010, p.20) spoke of the use of technology, its influences, and moving from participation to collaborating “in general doing things together gives us more power than doing things alone.”


Rheingold, H. (2010, p.20). Attention, and other 21st century social media literacies. Retrieved from

7 Replies to “Creating, Cultivating, Reflecting on my Digital Presence”

  1. Hi Emma,

    The questions you asked yourself in the second paragraph are thought-provoking. These are the essential kinds of questions that, when considered, can make for a safer digital environment. Digital identities are complex.

    I identify with your plan. Becoming more of a contributor and less of an observer is the main goal of my digital identity and digital presence plans (DIDP).

    I have many questions about your (DIDP). What other tools would you like to use for cultivating your digital presence? Where will you find interesting conversations, and how will you determine your worthiness to participate?

    If you are open to it, I would be interested in learning more about your detailed plan. We could have a direct message over Slack if you like. Rajen

    1. Thank you for your comments Rajen, I think about my worthiness in the conversation as in “do I have something to add, not just say.” In this way it forces me to think about the reason I want to contribute. Do I just want to be part of the conversations, or do I want to help move them forward. One way I think of this is by looking to see if someone else had said the same thing. I do a lot of quiet browsing in the areas I’m interested in to try and gain the whole picture before settling on a point of view.

  2. Emma, I hear you! My son, when faced with his first passport photo, couldn’t understand why he wasn’t supposed to smile! Gen Z (or whoever comes next) doesn’t know anything different. I tried very hard to NOT post anything of my son (now 16) online so he could have the same opportunity as me to create his own digital presence. Most of my friends have not done the same.

    Which of the communities that you are involved with do you think are least developed in your research so far?

  3. Hi Emma, I love the questions you raised in your post. I think you can also consider some of the extremely relatable topics from our Unit 2 Schryver (2013) reading. There are a lot of questions surrounding how we want to portray ourselves online and offline. But you are right – how are others impacting our efforts to build a digital image, presence, and/or identity?
    I think your second point in your plan would be interesting to look into. The concept of “being worthy” of participating in a conversation could be influenced by so many factors. How do we build our credibility? How do we build students’ self esteem and confidence in online participation? Who gets to determine whether you are “worthy” or not? Really looking forward to how your plan unfolds!

  4. Your perspective is definitely an interesting one. As I read about your nephew and his digital self, I wonder if our actions are impacting someone’s digital ID? The federal NDP party asked me to run in the next Federal Election. Perth-Wellington in Ontario. I said yes. They sent me a package.

    The vetting process is quite detailed essentially forming around “Is there anything, that if it went public, that you not want people to know about? Who knows? I don’t remember where I put my keys or phone at least three times in one day. My social media web is locked and they wanted me to friend and give control over the page to a few of the ‘vetters.’ Immediately I thought of my digital identity and what does it say about my presence on line. I am a racialised woman, how does that impact my DIDP?

    They also wanted to vet my children’s social media platforms. I understand why. I also understand that my adult children, while I hope their posts are kind and or funny, I do not have agency around what their social media presence is. We have discussed employers searching your name as part of the hiring process and doing a vanity search at different stages in their lives.
    If I ask to look at their devices and clean them up, am I saying my digital presence matters more than yours?

    As you did, I eventually turned to myself and ask what is your DI/DP? – crickets…
    I wish I had a lizard to feed them to.
    I will continue to read, make notes and find my way on the internets – sooner rather than later.

    1. Yes, the idea of how much others play in our own digital identity is something that interests me as well. And are we responsible for it? What a great topic for a long winded conversation, or ongoing research project…!

    2. Hi Katia,

      I loved your thought.

      I have a teenage daughter as well, and so much of me wants to help her mold her digital presence, to present to the world the smart, conscientious, caring and thoughtful person she is. However, that’s not my right. She has the opportunity to grow and develop her personality both in real life, and digitally (which makes me want to correct myself – digital IS real life).

      I am sure that was a hard situation for you to be in with your children, but i imagine also a very enlightening one.

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