Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the …… ?
This line usually ends with something about being fair or beautiful or kind. Today I’m wondering if the screen on my computer can act as a mirror to reflect my human-ness, my digital self portrait, to show who I am and where I’ve been in online spaces.
This wondering is coming from a combination of things. Maybe from the final assignments I’m marking or from the stream of humorous tweets shared with other #HumanMOOC participants about being human online. How can I ensure I’m creating human interactions or am I talking to a cyber-bot? How is my self portrait painted online?
Conversations in Slack, for example, can have quirky injections from the Slack-bot who’ll make suggestions or recommendations. According to @arasbozkurt bots imitate and replicate, they don’t create!
So my blogs, tweets, and web creations are my human representations of my ‘self’. My reflection in the mirror of my screen, and the ping-backs and retweets, paint a picture of who I am and where I’ve been. This connects and reflects the work I ask my students to do as they enter into new digital spaces, many of them beginning to blog for the first time.
My screen, and the interactions I see and create, paint an image of my digital self portrait. These zeros and 1’s, written in codes many of us never see, lay out a pattern of colours and shapes to paint my image in digital space. My creations – images, text, audio, video, recordings, mashups or memes – shape my image and portrait. I paint my digital self by the choices of tools, resources and spaces where I share and create.
Do I control or paint my own self portrait or do others control the choice of brushes, colours, or canvas? How do I make thoughtful, mindful, visible choices that add tone, tint, and background to the portrait that I paint? How does the portrait emerge from the dots and swooshes of colour and text?
I think, and hope that I am an attentive and cognizant painter of my digital self portrait.
- Colours swirling in my digital self portrait include blues (Twitter), oranges and reds (my blog), greens (for all things Google), mauves for MOOC experiences and teal for @VirtuallyConnecting.
- Shapes include circles (G+, PLN’s) and squares (hangouts, storify curations).
- Backgrounds include gardens & streams (@HumanMOOC), trees & roots (#rhizo15), and towers (LMS, course production, teaching).
- Brushes I use include the wide/broad brush of Twitter, the short/stubby blogging brush, the thin brushes of Facebook and LinkedIn, and the multi-purpose brushes of web design and Google tools.
- My canvas is constructed from my K-8 education experiences and current higher education presence. It is a layered and solid space to paint.
- Others add splashes of new and interesting colour combinations to my image, as one of my students did recently by adding this Go-Animate production to her blog.
I learn from watching how others paint their digital self portraits. For those who are in academic spheres, this recording of Who are You online? A blog talk discussion recorded on April 15 2015 shares insights and ideas about where to start painting. Participants talk about digital identity for scholars and academics using social media. This conversation reminds me that it takes time to paint with mindfulness and vigilance. Expecting my portrait to be finished quickly and ready for showing is unrealistic.
This week’s conversation with Kate Bowles about Being Mindful, as part of the HumanMOOC course, reminds me to paint with self-awareness and to share my painting process as a lesson for others. I can model an awareness of the canvas and a responsive to new elements as I plan the picture. Kate’s conversation reminds me to be comfortable in the human struggle and messiness when painting my digital self portrait. It reminds me that my portrait is not a mirror image or a screen reflection. It’s nice to catch glimpses of the human side ‘over the shoulder’. It’s not created by bots with dots calculating equations to produce my portrait.
I intentionally select to represent myself in digital spaces with a self portrait rather than a digital footprint or a digital tattoo. I’m not creating an imprint in the dirt, left behind to be shaped by wind or weather. I’m not carrying an image impressed in my skin that can’t be changed or adapted without serious laser surgery. I’m painting as I go. Selecting as I emerge from the canvas of past and present.
My portrait is a work in progress, perhaps never to be completed. It’s not a Picasso or a Van Gogh, though I’ve played with Picasso style images in digital space and can create Van Gogh style effects in photo manipulation sites.
So, mirror mirror on my screen. Watch and see what I become! For now, I’ll paint on! I have some blank canvases yet to reveal the portraits to come.
How do you paint your portrait in digital spaces. What choices do you make in technique or colour palette? What subject matter will be in the foreground or background? How do you control the brushes and strokes that shape your image?
Step up. Paint on. Your digital self portrait is yet to be revealed.