TOPIC 2: Have you tried Googling your own name? The arguments for and against having more than one online identity

Should we keep our online identities private? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a completely open vs. private identity?

Julia Allison states that we should maintain many different identities dependent on the community we are in, for example school, work, friends and home (Jarvis, 2011). This is definitely something that I and I know many others can relate too. For example, the relationship I maintain at university is professional and the information I reveal is very different than what I share with other communities such as friends and family…So should we have multiple online identities?

Our online presence is more crucial than ever before. As a student, I’m constantly warned that potential employers will be trawling through anything they can find about me online. I’m therefore constantly weighing up whether it would be best to keep social media accounts private or not; is it best to hide my personal life from potential employers? And separating our identities into personal and professional is something that is increasingly debated. I personally only have one social media account for both professional and private although the primary use is personal but this is probably because I am not yet employed.

Private vs. Open

Most obviously, multiple identities online allow you to keep professional and personal accounts separate. If you wish to keep professional and personal separated for self-organisation and help in networking in those particular groups, I think that’s ok. However I argue, we are now so traceable online, if it is to detract attention from work/ potential employers, what really is the point in this because they are likely to be able to find lots of the information you think you’re hiding anyway. Plus surely if you’re breaking up your online identity by making some stuff private, why not just completely hide your identity? (Ludovico, 2014). Many also argue that having multiple online profiles and therefore hiding your personal life from employers is ‘creepy’ (see Morris and David, 2012) because people end up hiding behind a fake profile that portrays something that they are not. This diagram from Eler (2012) links to that, suggesting online we struggle with what we think we are, what people think we are and what people think we think we are- confusing but the diagram explains it better!

image 1


But it has to be noticed, however much you try to separate personal and professional to hide from employers and keep things anonymous no one can have a completely private identity online. You can definitely make your social presence more private by enabling privacy features but you can never be totally anonymous. I for one was surprised just how much information came up when I Googled my own name- some of which, like my old school newsletter, I didn’t know even existed! So, I question, are search engines such as Google exposing multiple online identities unknowingly for us (however much we try to keep them private)? What happens when you Google your own name?

Follow this link to a really good video summing up just how important digital identities are to students today:


Eler, A. (2012) “Introducing Your Hyperconnected Online- Offline Identity.” [Accessed February 2016]

Jarvis, J. (2011) “One Identity or more?” [Accessed February 2016]

Ludovico, A. (2014) “Multiple Identities in Social Networks.” [Accessed February 2016]

Morris, J., and David, R . (2012) Identity Management: Multiple Presentations of Self in Facebook . . 3 (3), 4.

Featured image retrieved from: Ingram, M. (2011) “Its official: Google wants to own your own identity.” [Accessed February 2016]


TOPIC 1: Reflection


I must admit, I never really thought it was necessary to have such a framework as ‘Digital Visitors and Residents’, however after researching myself but particularly after reading  other students blogs on the topic, I’ve changed my mind. For me, it was really interesting to see how ‘Digital Visitors and Residents’ affects employers, social media but above all learning techniques on the web. Plus I can now see that people do not adopt either the ‘Visitor’ or ‘Resident’ mode but usually use a combination of the two and this is dependent on what they are doing on the web.

My blog described the digital visitors and residents and I included a couple of examples of how different day-to-day activities on the web reflects either the digital ‘Visitor’ or ‘Resident’ mode. I found it interesting to read blogs where students had critically reflected on themselves in relation to the concept and also when they had thought about how other people other than themselves fit the different modes, for example BloggerJodie used the example of her mum, showing how she is a ‘classic digital visitor’ as she goes online for a specific task such as to check her emails and then goes offline again. Plus after reading through other people’s blogs I found some really interesting points that criticised White and Conru’s concept. For example AnnaClareGrace criticised White and Conru’s for contradicting himself when actually ended up conforming to Prenksy’s digital natives and immigrants concept, which he had previously criticised himself.

Importantly what I really learnt from topic one was how although we were all set the same topic everyone managed to write something differently which sparked different debates around the topic. This showed me a new way of learning, by learning through others; it certainly got you thinking more than just writing an essay yourself.

Here’s where I commented on other blogs:

TOPIC 1: Digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’

In an increasingly digital world only recently has it been deemed necessary to describe the way individuals can engage with the web to try to explain their motivations for doing so (White, 2012). This was first attempted by Prensky (2001) but has recently been updated by White and Conru (2011).

Prensky’s digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ describes people who are completely comfortable with digital space (natives) and those who can just about get by with it but will never be fully competent (immigrants); often it was linked to those that have grown up with technology and those that did not. It was a brave attempt at explaining a relatively new concept at the time, however soon after many criticised it for its simplicity. But it was useful in that it allowed people to assess the effectiveness in conveying information in a digital manner. In this way it had a powerful influence on how educators deliver information to students (Harris et al. 2010). However, understandably in a time where technology is continuously being developed, the term needed updating. White and Conru’s metaphors of digital visitors and residents, does that.

The visitor

When behaving as a visitor, individuals are online for a specific purpose or set task, they select an appropriate ‘online tool’ for the task and there is little social trace of them online. For example, finding and then reading a piece of information online via a search engine such as Google and then finishing the task and going offline again. Often I will behave as a visitor when searching for information for a particular topic for an assignment at university.

The resident

If an individual is behaving as a resident, they are going online to connect with people and unlike being a ‘visitor’, this is about social presence and in that way they are more traceable online. For example sharing a post about their lives on social media such as Facebook, through this the individual’s are living part of their life’s online (White, 2014).

White and Conru do not imply that one is better than the other, or that they always operate individually. For example in the past, as mentioned, I have looked for a reading as a ‘visitor’ on Google but also as a ‘resident’ on Facebook with friends in my study group.

digital visiotrs and residents

(White and Conru, 2011)

It is dependent on the purpose of the individual, and it is likely that cohorts of individuals such as students will adopt similar digital behaviours and this is something that should be understood to deliver the best learning techniques (Harris, Warren, Leah, & Ashleigh, 2010).


Harris, L., Warren, L., Leah, J., and Ashleigh, M. (2010). Small steps across the chasm: ideas for embedding a culture of open education in the university sector. In Education , 16 (1).

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants, do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-10.

White, D, S. (2012). “Visitors and Residents and learner-owned literacies.” Multimedia Information & Technology, 38,1: 23-25.

White, D. (2014). Visitors & Residents. Retrieved February 2016 from DIGITAL – LEARNING – CULTURE:

White, D., & Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday , 16 (9).



Why I choose this module

I am lucky in that I get to choose modules outside of my subject discipline. Being in my final year, like others, I place heavy consideration on the assessment when choosing modules. With four modules this semester, I needed something different to essays. Naturally, a module that involved blogging as part of the assessment stood out to me.

When I began to read more about this module, I realised that it was something that I could learn both very useful skills from and one that I was very interested in. The idea of enhancing my learning on the web was very attractive to me because recently I’ve really noticed how much online networks are being used to collaborate information and debate around current issues, recently this has become more and more noticeable with new features on twitter. It is definitely an underestimated part of learning.

It is also a subject where I feel I have lots of room to learn. I’ve never considered myself very ‘technical’ so it will be interesting to see how much I can learn in just this short amount of time. This is something I will be reflecting on at the end of the course and to support this I’ve completed this Self Test, which I will then undertake again in May to see how much I’ve learnt.

Overall the main things I hope to take away are, new ways of gathering and sharing information, understanding how/when to have the most appropriate online identity and of course how to produce the best blog!