At the start of the module I was new to many of the topics introduced in the module. I took the internet for granted, and was largely oblivious to many of the current topics that are increasingly culturally relevant to our progressing society.
“The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”
– Bill Gates
MY EXPERIENCE (Values Beliefs & Assumptions)
Study of digital natives, immigrants; visitors and residents and the resulting discussions with my course-mates led me to see aspects of myself in both the resident and visitor categories. However my internet use is primarily passive, so I aligned closer with the visitor. Examining my course-mates’ blogs, I came to the realisation that the majority of my peers saw themselves as digital residents. This was a key moment for me as it made me realise that my internet use is profoundly different from other users in my age group.
I analysed online inequality and digital differences, studying works from Van Dijk and Hargittai. I outlined 7 key areas that cause online inequality, garnering supporting statistics from the Pew Research Center and the Office for National Statistics.
My post concluded that internet use is disproportionally biased towards users from more developed backgrounds. This led me to consider the notion of the internet as a basic human right. This was a key moment for me as this idea was apealing to me from a moral standpoint. Sheyra pointed out that sadly geographical differences make it impossible for everyone to have equal internet access. Considering this input, and reading articles on the topic from Leiva-Gomez and Skepys, I concluded that equal and free internet access is unrealistic in our society.
“Although Internet access is instrumentally valuable for membership [in a political community], it should not be seen as a human right in and of itself because it is not necessary for membership.”
– Brian Skepys, Google. From: “Is There a Human Right to the Internet?”
I discussed with Will and Megan methods institutions can employ to aid disabled users. Assistive technologies such as spell check and audio dictation software have helped me academically with my dyslexia. I later discovered the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and their progress to try and make the web a fairer and more equal place. Observing progressive steps made by institutions instigated optimism in myself that online inequality can be effectively eliminated.
I focused on the authenticity of online information, and was introduced to the concept of echo chambers, where users isolate the people/media they interact with online. I researched the effects of this on the political spectrum, finding Krasodomski-Jones particularly insightful. I explored the ways companies mistreat data to fit their narrative and derived a 6 step checklist that I use to check authenticity.
Dom notified me of a BBC plan to help students navigate the pitfalls of fake news online. I agreed with this strategy, proposing its inclusion into the ICT national syllabus. Chloe questioned whether I was in an echo chamber myself. Reflecting on my online behaviours I concluded that due to the content I view online I am somewhat in an echo chamber despite my best efforts remain neutral online.
I analysed the differences between single and multiple identities. I have now created an updated graphic outlining them:
I realised I use multiple identities online to separate personal and professional life. Despite this I wanted to explore cases in which a single identity would be more beneficial. I concluded that professions that requires a user to promote their brand would benefit from a single identity, such as a celebrity or fitness model.
Finally, I explored online anonymity. Tor‘s founder Andrew Lewman, believes that anonymity gives users the freedom to engage in areas they may not want tied to their real name (Krotoski 2012). Stephanie observed an increase in trolling and malicious activity on websites where users have an anonymous identity. I postulated this was because users gain a sense of ‘invincibility’ due to their masked identity.
“The Internet is just another experiment showing us more sides of us.”
– Frank Ocean
I discussed with Adrian how anonymity on the dark web has caused many illegal services to emerge online. This caused me a moral dilemma, as many horrific crimes and activities are known to take place through the dark web. We concluded that abolishing the dark web is an unhealthy solution as it provides a platform for free thought and journalism in countries with censorship issues.
Before this module I thought the idea of me maintaining a blog was laughable. However I have enjoyed the challenge of writing a blog every week, it has taught me valuable web skills and made me think about how to present myself online. I learned that others have differing priorities in their profile, such as Joanna who opted for a single identity as to showcase her online portfolio.
If I were to repeat the course, there are things I may have changed. Specifically I would have liked to include more video content in my blogs. (I talk about improvements further in conclusion video)
At the start of the module I completed a self assessment test to asses my level of digital literacy. I decided to update this assessment in order to gauge what progress I have made throughout the course:
“Comparing my digital self test with others has shown me that I am lacking in some areas; Mostly involved around participating in and building online social networks and managing my online identity.”
– Me, Introductory reflection
Considering this prior statement and analysing my current digital literacy levels, it is clear I have improved in key areas.
I learned on this module where I stand as an internet user. In order to categorise myself accurately, I laid out all spectrums we covered over the course and attempted to place myself on them:
Seeing how others have expanded their online network and perceiving the difference between my identities I decided to improve my professional online profile by creating a linkedIn page:
I decided to clean up my online identity by deleting any old unused accounts connected to my name. I also increased the security of my accounts, by updating passwords to be more complex and unique. To help remember login data for all my accounts I downloaded Dashlane, a free password management service:
Studying UOSM has made me more aware of web issues such as online authenticity and anonymity. I will be sure to manage my professional profile with more care. I will also use my 6 step fake news checklist every time the validity of an article is in question.
The experience has made me more optimistic about my online future, as I have a much broader understanding of contemporary web issues. As a result, I must continue to expand my knowledge on fake news as I believe this is an issue which will continue to worsen in the future.
I created a final video presentation detailing my successes and failures in UOSM2008. Detailing what I learnt from them, how it has affected my online activities and what further steps I must take after this module:
Word Count: 987 (excluding headings, references, quotes and figures)
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Skepys, B. (2012). Is There a Human Right to the Internet?. Ccsenet.org. Available at: http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jpl/article/view/22541/14534[Accessed 14 May 2018].
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van Dijk, J. (2013). Inequalities in the Network Society. Digital Sociology, pp.105-124.
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