No Less Real or True: Creating Your Digital Identity

The phrase in the title of this blog post is from our 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 our notions 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:

  • Two samples of revised and expanded digital writing. You should choose two of your five assignments from this class (locative, collaborative, appropriative, interactive, or generative) and return to them to grow and develop them beyond initial exercises into polished, exemplary pieces of digital creativity. If you choose to return to a group project, you may do so together or independently, but make sure to notify your group members and coordinate revision (so you aren’t both making changes to the same Google map, for instance).
  • At least two additional samples of digital creative work. These may be other exercises you produced in this class, such as blog posts or short activities; they may be creative work you’ve produced in another class, for a job or internship, or independently (a graphic design project or short video, for example); they may even be links to social media pieces such as a Vine, Twitter, or Instagram feed. These samples should be chosen for how well they illustrate and articulate your digital identity: for example, if your chosen digital identity is “aspiring musician,” think about what digital creative work would best exemplify that self (a YouTube video of you performing a song).
  • 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 of the digital 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, comparisons to your own work, or models for your vision and intention.

I want to strongly encourage you to embrace multimodality, nonlinearity, and hypertextuality for your reflective essay. That is to say, you may compose this final essay in any digital or multimedia format. A short video essay, a podcast, an interactive text, social media feed, or any other digital medium you can imagine is fair game! A Google doc or blog post is fine, but if you go this route, make sure to incorporate hyperlinks, images, sound, etc. to engage your audience.

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, April 28th, 5pm, and you will submit it by emailing me a link to the portfolio (even if it is the same URL as your existing blog): from there, I should be able to easily locate your critical essay and digital samples.

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