A Post-Identity World: Creating the Digital Portfolio

The phrase in the title of this blog post is from next week’s reading on Catfish: The TV Show, which explores the nature of creating an identity in a world where you can be completely physical disembodied from that identity.

In many ways, that is exactly what your digital portfolio is: a constructed, virtual version of the self you are, or want to be. Our digital world isn’t, I don’t think, post-identity. But it certainly complicates the notion of the self, and of anonymity, when you can decide who you are, what you look like, and how to present yourself to the world.

You better learn how to do it well, then.

digitalidentity_featureYour final assignment for this class, as in many writing classes, will be a digital portfolio. Your portfolio should combine a number of things including revised versions of assignments from this and other classes, references to other readings from the class, and critical reflection on how your work fits into the larger context of digital writing.

But all of that should be in the service of creating a specific digital portrait of you; for this assignment, you should develop a cohesive vision for yourself, and build a portfolio that articulates that vision in the virtual world.

Your digital identity, for this assignment, can be anything you want: it may be centered around the career to which you aspire, around a hobby, job, or extracurricular you currently have, even around a curiosity, interest, or passion of yours. Whatever you choose, your vision should be clear, and the details of your website’s design and content should be in the service of that self-identity.

Your portfolio should include the following:

At least three samples of revised, polished, and expanded digital writing. At least one of these three must be a unit assignment from this class (collaborative, appropriative, interactive, generative, or locative). The others you choose may be other assignments from this class, revised/expanded versions of in-class or group exercises, significantly re-imagined/rewritten blog posts transformed into longer digital samples, or even digital work you may have produced in other classes, or for jobs/internships.

Whatever works you choose, they must be more than merely text; each sample should engage with at least two of the characteristics of digital writing we’ve spent the semester discussing, whether from our units, or from Mark Samples’ “What’s Wrong with Writing Essays?” or David Golumbia’s “Characteristics of Digital Media.”

A critical, reflective essay that will serve as a cover letter / contextualization for the artifacts contained within your portfolio. This essay should be at least 1000 words (though that word count is negotiable if you choose a non-textual medium) and should be the place where you draw connections between the artifacts of your portfolio, other readings from the semester, and the digital self-identity around which your portfolio is focused.

The goal of the essay is to explore why we write for digital media. That is, what does writing in digital formats offer us that analog formats do not? How do the characteristics of digital media afford you new / different possibilities for engaging readers? How will you / do you use digital writing now or in the future? How will writing for digital media fit into the digital identity you are articulating in this portfolio?

Your essay should engage with these questions in whatever way makes sense for the digital self you are articulating in your portfolio. That is, your answers should be in the context of the “you” you are presenting (how do PR professional use digital writing, how do creative writers, how do members of the tennis team, etc.) Your essay must reference all three of your own writing samples included in the portfolio, and should describe which characteristics of digital media they possess. In addition, your essay should also make reference to at least three readings or samples of digital writing we explored together this semester, as evidence supporting your claims about digital writing.

Your essay may simply be a text-based essay, presented in a blog post, on a static page on your website, or even as a Google doc linked to your site. You may, however, choose to compose this final essay in any other digital / multimedia format. A short video essay, podcast, interactive text, social media feed, or any other digital medium you can imagine is fair game. Be creative! Be playful! Above all, think about the digital self you are portraying, and choose a medium that is cohesive with that vision.

The organization and presentation of this digital portfolio is up to you. You may easily create the portfolio using your existing website, by adding your reflective essay as a final blog post, or home page, and presenting each artifact on a separate, static page. You may create a new website for the purposes of your portfolio. You may even choose to establish your web presence in a new social media profile. As long as you can include / link to all of the content detailed above, and do so in a cohesive, focused way that accurately represents the digital self-identity you want, any form of digital presentation is welcome.

Your portfolio will be due by Thursday, Dec. 17th, 5pm, and you will submit it by emailing me a link to the portfolio: from there, I should be able to easily locate your critical essay and three writing samples.



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