Discovering My Digital Footprint

Living in a digital world has clear benefits.

Just last month, a colleague of mine installed concrete countertops in her kitchen with her mother in two days. Two days?! She has little to no formal construction or remodeling experience, yet, they found a way to recreate this space with minimal time or money. The key? They watched several videos on YouTube that someone with experience posted and then followed those instructions. Not only did she have the satisfaction of transforming her 1970s-fabulous kitchen countertops into something sleek and modern, she had the satisfaction of having done it on her own.

So, I’ll say it again. Living in a digital world has clear benefits.

I can remember a time not very long ago where texting, Google, and iPhones did not exist. As a consequence, we lived and behaved differently 20-some years ago. These tools have transformed the way we find, use, and share information as well as the means by which we communicate with others. Our lives are completely different as a consequence. I like it this way. Personally, I enjoy being able to have directions to a place at any given point on my iPhone or texting my mom to share information quickly. Who doesn’t love Googling a topic to simply find out more about it?

While these technological advances have clear benefits, there are costs associated as well. One of these costs is the constant preservation of information available online. Once something becomes available online, it may never really go away. Numerous scandals, including the recent issues Paula Deen is experiencing on Twitter, provide constant reminders of this reality. The real question, at least for me, becomes one of costs versus benefits. At this point, I am willing to manage the downsides or costs of technology in order to enjoy the benefits. I don’t mind being careful about what I post or share on the internet. I also try to be cautious about what others share about me as well.

However, no matter how hard you try, there are bound to be negative things on the internet, especially if one does not take care to add positive items themselves. So, after reading this week’s resources concerning digital footprints, I decided to take Sean McGinnis’ recommended approach to determining an existing digital footprint. I searched 5 pages worth of Google results and looked at Google Images. This is what I found:

Megan’s Digital Footprint Results

1st Page of results

  • The 2nd link was my Twitter Account (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)
  • The 3rd link was my LinkedIn Account (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)
  • The 8th link was a Pinterest account from my old job (left last year) (Neutral – no longer have control of this account)
  • The 9th link was my YouTube account featuring videos I have added to channels for work (Positive: I own this account and have lots of control)

2nd page of results – nothing!

3rd page of results – nothing!

4th page of results

  • The 3rd link was a reference to my adjunct position at UTPB. (Neutral – just has my name, email address, and position. I have no control over this page.)
  • The 10th link was a Project Share page from my old job – left last year (Neutral – no longer have control of this page)

5th page of results

  • The 1st link was a training document I built in my old job for Project Share (Neutral – no longer have control over this document)

When I reviewed Google Images, I found two pictures of myself. One on the third row and another on the fifth row. Both were decent pictures that I commonly use for profiles and don’t provide any cause for concern. However, there were a few pictures of another Megan Gooding which featured semi-censored nudity. I would hate to think that someone would Google my name and assume that person is me.

Neither of my Facebook profiles (personal or Boise State), my Instagram account, my WordPress account, my Wix website, or my Google + accounts came up in a Google search. No personally identifying information appeared either. While these results are not necessarily bad, it is clear that I have work to do improving my search engine optimization for an improved professional presence. Nothing is more depressing for a doctoral student than to discover that there is relatively little professional information about oneself on the web.

Without question, I have work to do!

I am already planning to upgrade my digital footprint. Stay tuned!


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