Thing 3 – Digital Footprint

Thing 3 – Digital Footprint

January 7, 2019 0 By JR


As I mentioned in the previous post, most of what we could read this week sounds familiar. From some of the warnings/cautions espoused by professors during my undergrad days, through to what I read a bit more widely online. Most of the advice circles social media, of course, the likeliness of people having FB, Twitter, or other social media accounts is very high. Many teachers (and teacher candidates) I know tend to use a first name middle name handle for example, or just initials to mask their search results. Others create completely obscure handles and whole separate accounts for their professional and personal lives. Others consolidate everything. I tend to be the latter.

The article suggests the multiple identities/profiles to separate personal and professional accounts. I don’t think this is necessarily as cut and dry as it is portrayed. It makes sense I think if you are incharge of an official account for an organization to have more than one account. Having two accounts might on the surface separate your personal and professional identities, but I have seen a number of cases where cross posting or accidentally posting to the wrong account happens, and those stories tend not to end well. In addition, if we consider how you’re tracked across the web, having the two accounts will not matter as much as you might think, as trackers will be able to pin down that the two accounts are one person. If privacy and participating online, this is something you’ll need to consider in addition to what’s listed in the article. Come to think of it, the focus of this module seems to be what you consciously put out there on the web, and overtime I’ve come to realize that we need to also help people see their unintended contributions to the web. For example, I just started playing with a new photo platform Lychee. I’ve had it installed for a few days but haven’t added anything to it yes because I have yet to peel off the EXIF metadata. That’s not something many would consider after going through many digital literacy/eprofessionalism modules/training.

I mentioned in the previous post as well that I’ve worked on eProfessionalism modules in an instructional design capacity, one that comes to mind was for medical residents. It was in researching how to construct it that I came across the Social MEDia Course, Webicina, created by Berci Mesko. Dr. Mesko has a couple of TED talks and is very active on social media. In going through the activities in his course, and using other resources, I tried to capture the whole first page of Google results for “JR Dingwall”. And for a while it worked really well. I have a full LinkedIn profile, an, Facebook, etc. Then much to my disappointment a lawyer crept onto the results page with his website. Darn. I maintained much of this digital footprint for years, updating multiple sites, and keeping everything set up for work and play. In the last few years I’ve become more interested in managing my footprint on MY terms. I got myself a Reclaim Hosting account and started building portfolios where I control the content. On my calling card page I say “reclaiming my digital life”, something I see myself doing for years to come as I pull back and publish things on my own sites as much as possible. That now includes a Teaching and Learning portfolio, a blog, a calling card, demo sites, and I still use Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve done my best to deactivate everything else. Especially in light of the account breaches at a number of high profile companies (LinkedIn included).

The 23Things course asks us to Google yourself. It may seem vain to some, but I try to keep a pretty close eye on that page. I also have Google Alerts set up to help track a variety of updates on the web. It’s not 100% strategy but it’s helpful. I decided to take this activity a few steps further:

  1. search on Google, using my usual browser
  2. search on Google using another browser and not logged in
  3. search on Google using another browser, not logged in, and on a different internet connection
  4. search using Duck Duck Go
  5. Why not use Bing too I suppose…


  1. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Not so bad for the top three. Of course this is generated because Google likely knows where I go the most when I’m logged in. Looking down the list I see Facebook search results (none are me), Module 13 (my projects/business site), Slideshare (because LinkedIn), a podcast I appeared on recently (Dear ID), and an old local news article about one of my students when I was a shop teacher. Most everything is me, and stuff I meant to put out there (whoops forgot I had…2?! Flickr accounts). Scrolling through the images, about a dozen straight away are things I’ve posted and recognize. Scrolling further, most of the photos have nothing to do with me, and those that do are mostly attached to what I’ve posted on my own site in the last year. Some of the items on my own website go back to my undergrad days, but that’s mostly presentations. If I click the filter “jrdingwall” it filters down to all posts I’ve made, or others who interact with me on say Twitter. Just for fun I changed the “time” setting to try to look back before finishing grad school and there’s nothing on the images side, or the web search. This is a luxury many kids growing up right now wouldn’t have in Canada I imaging, as family members would have posted photos of them on social media.
  2. Safari and not logged into Google turned up exactly the same results, although I’m on the same machine and network as I just used so there’s that.
  3. Trying the Firefox browser, and Google search, on iOS turned up just about the same, except it also brought in my contact page for USASK.
  4. Trying the DuckDuckGo browser and search engine for iOS, my own site hits the top of the results followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, and the site. Oddly, I appear to be going to events I’m not even registered for on that system. Considering how this past spring a vendor used the site to contact me leading up to and during a conference I’m likely going to delete this profile.
  5. BING and not logged in turned up much of the same, BUT it prioritized my site followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, and my contact page for the University of Saskatchewan. Further pages include more sites I’ve created, some obituaries (for other unrelated Dingwalls), and the ACCP-CAID site.

As I mentioned, I keep a pretty close eye on these search results so I can’t say there’s anything that really surprises me. I see the next module is about digital security, so until then!