Saturday, April 24, 2010

Digital Footprinting 101

    So apparently according to OpenID's new study has Facebook leading the online identity war, for 40% of all log-ins on all web-sites offering 3rd party sign in options.View the article here.
    Ever get sick of finding someone has a screen name, or user name, almost exactly like yours? Want to really make a mark on the web, and make sure people know that it's you? Then a little something I'm coining "Digital Footprinting" might be the simple explanation you've been looking for.   
    Personally, I have been trying to link every single web site I have ever used and signed up for, to each other, creating this ring, or connected web, of everything I do in this digital world. Anyone who has a smart-phone, capable of linking to an online site, can tell you that it's becoming very easy to take the load off of using your computer, in order to maintain connectivity. In the more recent years, web sites have been opening up to inter-connected setups, for example linking your Google account to your Blogger, was not even an option when I first signed up here, now it's the only thing I use to log in.
    My personal view on all of this, in the beginning was, "No that's like stalking made simple." Recently my views on all of this have changed. What anyone can do is use all of their online social-networking, and profile based sites, to link to each other. I have developed a simple structure to explain "digital footprinting" for anyone that is interested. The Persona, The Symbol, and The Link are three basic umbrellas that I will put in place in order to explain this.

The Persona:
The first and most important part of digital footprinting or creating an online identity, is obviously a persona, screen name, or User name, as it has been called since pretty much the beginning of the internet. What do you want your persona to be, your real name, or a pseudo name?
    This is not only the most important step in the process, but it lays the "building block", for what some would call reserving. Obtaining the persona for use on other web-sites or social networks, so it is vitally important that his be unique to you, the user. That is really the first step to becoming your own digital entity, in my experienced opinion.

The Symbol:
    This concept is really obvious, creating a symbol, so this User name you have created, can be recognized in all forms. Creativity, and some visual design software, like Photoshop or Gimp, even MSPaint, is basically all that is needed to make this symbol. Some things important to consider when creating your symbol, are obviously copyright laws, and visual meaning. What will your digital symbol mean or say, about you or the image and message you are trying to convey, to those interested?

The Link:
    This is obviously a personal preference thing, but linking all of your online activity, can not only help you, the user, become connected on multiple different levels, but also help those who are trying to follow you, stay updated, as so many seem to want to do, in this modern world. Web sites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, have been doing this for quite some time, but more recently connecting these things has become a real possibility.
    I think the best way to show-case this, is Windows Live: BoyOfTheEnders Live profile.
There you can see, that Windows Live is allowing pretty much any page you have ever singed up for, to be linked with your live profile, so that the updates all stream directly to that page. Currently, I'm not quite sure how it will look after a large degree of activity, but I am definitely optimistic enough to try.

Overall the ability to create a real mark, on all of the web's most major sites, has become something people only dreamed of, when the internet was in it's infancy. Thankfully, due to recent updates and innovations in web technology and code, it has become possible to create a real digital footprint. Whether your just a simple web user, or someone looking to reserve a persona, create a symbol for the persona, make an impression, or just trying to consolidate the hard work and effort put into it all, there is an easier way to do it. Trying to connect multiple accounts and activities on multiple sites has never been easier and with the ever changing interfaces and landscapes of the network we call The Internet, only time will tell, what will come next.