3. Digital Identity Build

“To write digital writing is to write in and for the moment of wanting to say something, of needing to say something. And to do that again and again.”–Sean Michael Morris


Domain of One’s Own is built one post at a time.  In this session, we focus on building your domain and your digital identity by concentrating on our “About Me” content.  There are four short readings we’re sharing, by people who are contributing deeply to discussions about digital identity in higher education, and about the ways that their digital writing–blogging and social media– shapes and intersects meaningfully with their identities and communities.  The first two authors, Chris Long and Sean Michael Morris, are also very involved in Domain of One’s Own initiatives on their campuses and recognize DoOO as space to cultivate communities of practice and engagement around our work as scholars and teachers.  The final two readings think about digital writing in other ways, as finding voice, connecting, and as activism.

Chris Long

Chris Long is the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University, and a philosopher.  At http://cplong.org, he has been “Blogging a Philosophical Life for the last decade and modeling what it means to build community around your scholarship and teaching through digital presence.  Blogging, Chris says, is one of the ways he makes meaning of his life.  Watch this short 2 minute clip of Chris describing why he’s implementing a Domains initiative for faculty and grad students in Arts and Letters at MSU.

Chris was at Muhlenberg in February 2016 and delivered a lecture, “Tweeting the Liberal Arts,” which you can watch here.  His blog post documenting his two days at Muhlenberg reveals his thoughtful and generous approach to blogging.  He writes:

My visit to Muhlenberg is informed by a commitment to put the technologies of digital communication into a liberal arts practice in order to open a space to reflect upon how they might enrich and impoverish our relationships with one another.

We recommend following Chris on Twitter @cplong.

Sean Michael Morris

Sean Michael Morris is an instructional designer in the department of digital learning at Middlebury College, director of the Digital Pedagogy Lab, and director of the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy.  He blogs at http://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/ but some of his work that resonates most strongly with the DoOO project is at Hybrid Pedagogy, including the piece we’ve asked you to read for this session.

In this piece, “Creative Beasts with Crayons,” Sean suggests that digital writing is a bit like adults picking up crayons for the first time in many years (even decades)–it’s familiar, but requires flexing some unused muscles.  If you are like us, writing digitally, in the open and for a community online, may feel really daunting.  In your own digital writing, or in relation to the digital writing you ask your students to do, a host of questions emerge along the way: how is my digital writing voice different from my traditional, trained scholarly writing voice? How do I shift between these voices, or “code-switch” depending on which networked public I am writing for (remember Bonnie Stewart’s “Six Key Selves” from last time). To what standards do I usefully hold my (or my students’) digital writing?  How is the experience of writing in digital space different? While digital space affords certain flexibilities, how does it also feel constraining?  

We suggest you follow Sean on Twitter @slamteacher

Bonnie Stewart

Bonnie Stewart’s piece takes us into the space where digital identities reveal themselves as multidimensional, complex, and sometimes deeply, painfully, compassionately human.  Bonnie is a scholar of pedagogy and networked technology, and as her CV documents, has a deep digital footprint with her online scholarly writing.  But Bonnie’s blog post for this week comes from her writing that exists in another digital space she has built, for sharing and healing after the loss of her son, Finn.  It is a poignant act of making visible experience that often remain hidden, a place to claim a voice and name the unspoken, the act of blogging for Stewart is as an act of connecting.  “Blogging did not bring him back. But it made him visible, real, and publicly speakable in a way that no other aspect of my life offered.”  We love this piece for its courage and openness and as an example of some of the very meaningful ways people find voice and community through this form of digital writing.  

If you haven’t already, we suggest you to follow Bonnie on Twitter @bonstewart

Paul Prinsloo

Finally, there is a piece by Paul Prinsloo, a researcher at the University of South Africa, an open distance learning higher education institution.  Paul is thinking here about his digital writing as a form of educational activism, and struggling with feeling overwhelmed by the pace at which fellow educational bloggers write, like “a sloth among cheetahs.”  For those of us who think slowly, and write even more slowly, Paul’s blog post is a comforting reminder.

We suggest you follow Paul on Twitter @14prinsp.


During our session on December 8, we will walk through some of the features and plugins you can install to customize your domain, including integrating a Twitter feed.  We will also focus time on writing “About” pages for our domains.  There is no one way to do this–and how you approach your “About” page, what text, images, professional or personal details you include, ideally should reflect the kind of presence you hope to build for yourself online.  It is about you, and is one of the first and most important pieces of digital writing that you will craft.

Before the December 8 meeting, if you aren’t already on Twitter, please sign up for an account.  Use this helpful guide, by Jesse Stommel, to begin.  We don’t want you to remain an “egghead”…so edit your profile and include an image to replace the standard-issue egg. If you are reluctant for any reason to use an image of yourself, Jesse Stommel’s guide offers good ideas for using an image that represents you, or your area of interest in some way. 

Further Resources

Muhlenberg has a campus license for Lynda.com, where you can access extensive WordPress video tutorials to help along the way.  Here’s a good one for getting started with understanding plugins.