Online Identities

Just a simple addendum to the online identities node.

It's much simple today to everyone to create some kind of content on the Internet. Computers and wireless connections are everywhere; free web services of all kinds and it's increasingly tempting, easy and fast to create accounts. So most often we create content everywhere, without clear connections between one and another, a problem already mentioned in the previous contribution (along with some cues regarding tentative solutions).

Some educational institutions are pushing the line, directly or through some educators therein, of students having weblogs directly related to their learning efforts. The underlying idea is that each student generates, perhaps mandatorily, course-related content to share with colleagues and staff. Often, students are asked to criticize the content of others, in an effort to both, create always-active course-related web conversations and collectively develop the now much-desired (21st century?) skills of connective writing and reading. However, it seems to me that that's a little probability that all students will use the weblogs their institutions have created as their very own place on the Internet. First, they don't have total control of their content. Second, the weblog will probably be deleted some day, with all its content, as the student's phase with the institution is only finite. Third, generated content will not be actually attached to a real online identity, as the student's place is somehow clearly connected with the institution.

With this little set of perceptions at hand, it seems clear that you will only have a full, 21st century online identity if you have a registered personal domain name. Being it your actual name or something unambiguously related to it is not that relevant, as long as it is widely recognizable by interested people to be you, today, tomorrow, and in the far future. It's also important that you set up some mechanism that concatenate all your web activity into this place, something along the line of some of the today's lifestreaming tools. Unfortunately, the transferring of a large number of content items between different weblog platforms is not yet something you can do without a headache.

The ideal situation: You approach an educational institution with an already well-grounded online identity behind you. Then you aggregate course-related content to your common, personal content. Ideally, you'll send RSS feeds for a specific set of course-related tags you've created to the central course aggregator tool. Therefore, you have a single place on the Internet to support not only whatever web activities you like to perform but also your learning activities in (if necessary) several concurrent courses, provided a tagging convention is stablished and used. You will carry with you all your generated content for your next learning endeavours, avoiding discontinuities in your life-long learning experiences. Note that this is not only about content preservation, it's also about preserving the learning connections.

Actually, | don't have a domain name myself, and my "intense" web activity are still chaotically distributed over the Internet.

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