Learning about identity

Part of the work I do in my role as Digital Literacy Adviser is teaching about identity online. Last week I took some Media and Culture undergrads into Second Life so they could us it as a tool to explore the concept of identity. Next month I will be teaching doctoral students about identity in social networking as part of the researcher skills they need to develop. I just started wondering ….

Is it issues related to identity that Digital Literacy is really about? Another of my tasks is to carry out and analyse the findings from the Annual Staff Digital Literacy Survey for the University (there is one for students too). The results from that also made me think that this is all to do with how we feel; how we identify with particular behaviours. For example are you someone who prefers to use cash rather than a card? I can’t wait for the day when I can pay for everything using a card from a cup of coffee to a house. It should all work as smoothly as my Oyster card does. I know that Londoners don’t think much of London Transport but most of them haven’t seen how the public transport in the rest of the country works!

Yes I know that if I use my card all my movements can be traced and that is fine in a benevolent society – just wait ’till a dictator comes along. But let’s face it, I’m old, and I’m more aware than many others of the problems that occur when individuals can be easily identified, separated from the rest of society and treated “differently” from everyone else. We cannot move backwards – anonymity is easier when there a fewer people – in order to successfully care for the number of people there are now in the world we have to have modern technologies to help us. People need to know how to use these technologies wisely (part of what Digital Literacy is about) but I see no reason to limit the new technologies to “important” things. The “important” things are no more or less likely than flippant/fun things are to put us at risk. I demand more fun things! 🙂 More fun things to play with so that people learn about Digital Literacy through happiness instead of fear.

By the way if you are looking for a short description of how to join and get started in SL do go to my other blog. I have just put a Word document out there for the students.

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