Wk 10: Dig Shadows

Activity – ‘Ego-Surfing’

So, let’s see how visible you are…we’ll go ego-surfing!
Type your name in to the Google search box below to see what (if anything) Google knows about you..
(Hint: Type your name within quotation marks for more specific results and make sure to view at least the first 3 pages)

Now let’s try comparing the three largest search engines. Use this site to compare the results of an Ego-surf using all three.

Again, any surprises in your digital shadow?

Finally, try Spezify.

This was fascinating for me, because I have so many different online presences and because, although I have a unique name, it’s not so unique for search engines.

I started with my old business name dedicated2digital in quotes in google. It had 5440 results which didn’t surprise me and on the first four pages, i didn’t see anything i didn’t really expect. My full name of December Medland garnered 478 results with the majority of those coming from facebook. December M received 57300 results which wasn’t surprising considering that December is also a month. December Hamilton (my maiden name) surprised me the most I guess, because I received a LOT of results to do with famous people with the name Hamilton (doing things in the month of December), or the town Hamilton in NZ (with their itinerary for during December) and it was hard to wade through it all to find anything pertinent.

Because my name is distinctive, I did expect it to generate more specific results due to the quotation marks. However, because my name is also used in other ways I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The second part of the activity was to vote for your favourite engine via blindsearch. This definitely surprised me as the one I chose was Yahoo. I hate yahoo! seriously despise yahoo! so i was quite shocked to find it had the relevant responses for me.

Finally spezify: I loved this engine and can see why it will be the way of future engines. It’s very clicky (in that i want to click on things) which of course is what search engines always hope you will do. For my business name this was very accurate, but for every other search i did, it was hopeless and did not find anything relevant to me, per se.

As a last ditch effort to see how my web presence (ass 3) is going, i then redid all of our activity search engine tasks using my assignment’s web presence name.

It’s a very small web presence obviously because althought google found it, spezify did not and blind search did not even get a match!

iLecture: Tama Leaver

Tama talks about the ego surfing activity (above).  There’s a difference between search engines. So don’t just concentrate on Google. We got to see his mug 8 times on spezify! 😀  Our key ideas are privacy and reputation. danah boyd makes a distinction between private and ‘private’.

“The tech world has a tendency to view the concept of ‘private’ as a single bit that is either 0 or 1. Data are either exposed or not. When companies start to make a decision to make  data visible in a more ‘efficient’ manner, it is often startling, prompting users to speak of a disruption to privacy”

Private on FB could mean only between you and your network, but if your network is Australia (and has 5 million viewers) is that really private? Google street view is another example. It’s legal because most western countries say that most photos taken on a public space is legal. It begs the question, technically no law has been broken but is it good to have photos placed on the web for all to see and share? [However, the two girls photographed as used in the example, WERE sunbaking on a public space so surely that’s not Google’s fault??] Google then provided an opt out option for people after a raucous was created over privacy.

danah boyd again:

“An opt-out dynamic means that users have to consciously choose what it is that they wish to hide and then remember their choices as they are navigating the system. When the default is hyper-public, individuals are not simply able to choose what they wish to expose – they have to choose what they wish to hide.”

Tama says this is an interesting distinction. Who should police the system? Should everything be private by default? Public by default? Google Street view didn’t do anything illegal but it took something public and ephemeral and made it public and lasting. This makes it ‘questionable’ [my quotes]. Obama said in 2009 to be careful of what you post on FB because in this era, everything you put up will have a way to come back and bite ya on the bum. A concept is that there will be no politicians in twenty years because everyone would have some kind of digital shadow in the future.

At MySpace’s peak, most had images and their birthdates. 40-50% also had their actual residential address and phone number.


“Our reputations are forged when people make judgements based upon the mosaic of information available about us.”

We need something up which to form a decision about others (Google, FB, our usual digital contexts…)

The Contradiction: More privacy = less reputation! Which means false information has no competition; it becomes your reputation via Google etc. This is talking about digital shadows created by others – if you have no rep online, then the false info is all that’s available to tell ppl about who i am.

But Tama assures us this isn’t new. Credit histories shared information that was a closed system. The ATO has a huge record of what we do and who we are.

But what’s new is that everyone can form an opinion esp with web 2.0 about others from existing online info. There’s no guarantee that info is correct. Gossip plus a cameraphone plus the internet will make it permanent, and the context is often lost.

And this made me think of Stepford Wives.

sites to look at: pleaserobme.com; chatroulette.com; chatroulettemap.com;


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