Reply to Equity Unbound Webcomic: Splintered Digital Identities | Kevin Hodgson

Replied to Equity Unbound Webcomic: Splintered Digital Identities by Kevin HodgsonKevin Hodgson (
I am dipping into Equity Unbound, a new online course/collaboration with Mia Zamora, Maha Bali and Catherine Cronin. They will be working with university students as well as opening things up to other spaces where folks, like you and me, can jump in. (The Twitter tag is here: #unboundeq)  I am always interested in seeing how new offerings can be riffs off previous open learning networks, such as NetNarr, Rhizo, Digiwrimo, CLMOOC, and others.
Kevin, your comic really resonates, particularly for someone who’s got over 200 social media related accounts and identity presences in various places on the internet.

It reminds me of a line I wrote a few months back in an article about the IndieWeb idea of Webmentions for A List Apart entitled Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet:

Possibly worst of all, your personal identity on the internet can end up fragmented like so many horcruxes across multiple websites over which you have little, if any, control.

Inherent in this idea is that corporate interests and others who run social sites can disappear, delete, or moderate out of existence any of my writing, photos, audio, video, or other content into the memory hole at any time and for almost any reason. And just like a destroyed horcrux, their doing so takes a bit of my soul (identity) with it each time.

A few years back, I decided to take back my own identity on the web and post everything of interest to me on my own website on my own domain first–a digital commonplace book if you will. Only then do I syndicate it into other communities, websites, or areas as needed. (Even this reply is on my own site before I syndicate it to yours.) As a result, I own a tremendously large part of my online identity (though even at that, a lot of it is published privately for myself or select small audiences).

I hope that as Equity Unbound continues and we explore the ideas of identity, public/private, and related topics, people might consider some of these ideas and implications and potentially work on expanding solutions for students, teachers, and the rest of the world.

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

30 thoughts on “Reply to Equity Unbound Webcomic: Splintered Digital Identities | Kevin Hodgson”

    1. Kevin, there’s an editable wiki page on the IndieWeb site that does document a lot of the past as well as the future social media “silo deaths” as well as some of the related data loss: (Content warning: it is depressing to think of the personal data loss indicated on this page.)

      Like many, I’m all for the concept of A Domain of One’s Own and find it very similar to the driving forces and principles behind the #IndieWeb movement. There are a number of educators who are adding some of this IndieWeb technology (Webmention, WebSub, Micropub, Microsub) to their practices. I’d like to think that the stronger open web these movements support will improve areas like open pedagogy and OER.

      I’m happy to help those interested in trying out any of these technologies either for themselves or in conjunction with their teaching.

      Syndicated copies:

      1. Thanks, Greg and Chris. I know you and others are doing the inspirational work of showing the way forward. When we own our space, we own our work. And in doing so, we have more agency. (or is that an overly optimistic view?) All connects to identity, for sure. #unboundeq

  1. Matt Maldre says:

    Every time I read your blog I think about how cool it is that you have everything on your site. I have at least 15 active Twitter accounts (or now semi-active). I should be posting them to my own site first, and then distributing to the various social channels

    1. I’m happy to help you walk through the process. If you’re free, you might also consider remote attendance of IndieWebCamp NYC in a couple of weeks:, and we can help you then.

  2. While I’m totally down with the work to help people defragment and take control of their (digital) identities, I’d like to also not lose sight of the ways networked digital practices and tools support positive dispersals of identity, or “polyphrenia” #unboundeq

  3. I am not familiar with polyphrenia but can piece it together (wait .. is that a pun on term?). I suspect it has to do with projecting parts of our identity into spaces that connect with interests. Not our whole self but element of us that resonates in affinity space. #unboundeq

    1. My two favorite thinkers lately in the areas of niche communities/interests and topics like discovery within those spaces are Kicks Condor and Brad Enslen. They’re doing an excellent job of thinking out how some of the old web communities and spaces might fit into a broader IndieWeb perspective. Ideas like polyphrenia certainly help to expand such a conversation.
      Incidentally, Nate, Hypothesis and the functionality and value it provides me, make it one of the few polyphrenetic sites that I not only don’t mind working within, but actually enjoy working within, despite my all-in stance on owning all of my own data. It certainly helps that it solves some very specific problems, but it also does so in an ethical and trustworthy way (business-perspective wise) that also allows me to also own my data if I wish. I do sometimes worry what it and its community would look like if it were used at the same scale that Twitter were–sometimes scale brings unforseen problems.

      Syndicated copies:

  4. I’m making some assorted comics for Unbound Equity project. These  are sort of hit or miss, to be honest. I’m hoping making comics will help me think about issues of equity and access in different ways, and add a little variety to the conversation stream.
    The following comic is the best of the bunch from the last few days, I think. I was watching a Twitter Scavenger Hunt unfold in the #unboundeq hashtag (people were sharing mystery photos and others were guessing items), and I thought about someone misunderstanding the directions, and searching for Twitter itself. Particularly since so many people think Twitter has lost its original concept in this age of disinformation and hate. this following comic came from me wondering about how we interact with people in places like Twitter, where personality is often understood through words alone. While this can be powerful, from a writing standpoint, it can also lead to misinterpretation. The last line is a nod to my six-word-bio I have pinned on Twitter. then, there has been a conversation going on about using the alt-text feature of Twitter for photos — so that blind and/or disabled readers can still engage in the conversations (alt-text is read aloud by screen readers.) In Twitter, you have to turn the feature on. Which makes no sense to me at all. (In Mastodon, it is a default feature). This comic didn’t work as I wanted it to — the telescope was supposed to be a metaphor for narrow vision turned around into a wider understanding of the world. It came across as too preachy. The version I shared on Twitter was a video format, with audio voice (since one of my suggestions was to use audio for content). Ironically, by making the comic a video, I was unable to add alt-text to it., this comic is a response by Chris to another comic (about identity). The thread moved into technology platforms disappearing, and what happens to our data and our digital identity when that happens.
    Peace (framed and sometimes funny),

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