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.

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  1. 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

  2. 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.

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