Have you checked your digital footprint?

On mornings when I eat breakfast by myself, I usually do a little reading to get the day started. Gone are the newspapers and magazines. My reading is done on the computer. How much reading get done depends on my ‘blast off’ timeframe, but I always do some. On a typical day,  I would

  • check work email for any time sensitive items
  • log into Twitter, read new tweets and usually I will post something about my upcoming day as well
  • next stop, read the daily blog post at  Off the Record – a great start to the day.
  • then, time permitting,  check headlines and areas of interest on web based major newspapers
  • on weekend mornings, I also catch up on the wide selection of  blogs I read

Recently I was reading a Twitter post about Library Learning Commons. I decided to Google the person referred to in the tweet to obtain a little more information, which was easily obtained. Then, a fleeting thought zips through my mind … I haven’t Googled myself lately, I wonder what comes up.

So, I Google my name, then my name and location, and finally my name and role.  Well, I was amazed at what was listed among the Google listings. I new from trying this exercise earlier from a digital footprint perspective that there are many Mark Carbone’s that come up in searches. Looking at the listings specifically about me, I expected to see references to:

  • my blog
  • Twitter
  • ISTE and other educational forums on Ning that I participate in
  • and maybe Facebook

I was surprised to see a number of other references that referred to participation in other online forums. Surprised meaning you don’t think about the quantity and depth of checking and indexing that occurs in the online world. Some examples include:

  • Listings of comments that I posted on various blogs (via BackType.com)
  • Linked In
  • Comments on public Facebook pages (music groups in this case)
  • My Twitter activity was fed to a CIO dashboard listing of CIO’s on Twitter

Reflecting on this, I guess I should have anticipated some of these ‘extra references’. After all, there is a public component to many of these web 2.0 services. One doesn’t necessarily think that their actions (comments) will become searchable items accessible by today’s powerful search engines. Based on what I observed, my digital footprint has definitely expanded since I last reviewed it. With my level of participation, this is it be expected, and arguably a good thing.

New to social networking? When using social networking tools as part of your activities, you will want to be aware that your activities my not be as private or as limited as you may think. Social networking tools and today’s search engines are very powerful. Your online activity becomes part of a more permanent digital imprint that is part of society now. Enjoy, learn and benefit from what these tools can offer. At the same time, this points to the need for safe, ethical, responsible online activity and good digital citizenship.

~ Mark

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