👓 Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own | Connected Learning Alliance

Read Digital Literacy, Identity and a Domain of One’s Own by Doug BelshawDoug Belshaw (Connected Learning Alliance)
Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours. That domain name could be your gamer tag, it could be your real name, it could be a heteronym — it was up to you!

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Ten years ago, if I knew someone primarily through online means, you could guarantee they had their own domain name. It was just before the big explosion in social media use which meant that if you wanted a space online, you had to create it. This provided a barrier to entry in terms of the digital literacy skills required to register a domain, set up the necessary software and, of course, design, build and upload a website. The upside was that your digital identity was yours.  

Why have we gotten away from this? In short, I think it’s because it was easier for big companies with massive resources to do the initial heavy lifting.

If we look at history, Gutenberg created the first printing press and guarded it heavily for years. Eventually others figured out how to do it and printing presses spread like wildfire. Now, with some modest means and some time, almost anyone can publish.

With simple standards and accessible hosting people can now broadly own their own domain name and create their own websites using a variety of content management systems. In a few years, this will be even more ubiquitous. Facebook is going to be just like Gutenberg attempting to hold onto his monopoly, but failing miserably.

The best part, I think, is that the speed of digital technology means that the Facebook edifice is going to crumble faster than Gutenberg’s.

Twitter and Facebook are publicly-traded companies and beholden to shareholders looking to make a profit. Google, which owns YouTube and processes over 70% of the world’s search traffic, is likewise legally obliged to return a profit.  

legally obligated? they’re definitely supposed to try or shareholders may move their money elsewhere, but why can’t they create things for the common good as well?

A world where one’s primary identity is found through the social people-farms of existing social networks is a problematic one. Educators and parents are in the privileged position of being able to help create a better future, but we need to start modeling to future generations what that might look like.  

This is exactly what I’ve been attempting to do with my own website. Naturally I use it selfishly for my own purposes, but I’m also using it to model potential behaviours for friends, family and colleagues.

I’m sometimes tempted to change the tagline on my website to “A digital canary in the coalmine”.

Syndicated copies to: