What I Really Really Want – Preserving Work in the Digital Age

This maybe isn’t a fully formed “want” at the moment, but I think it’s almost there—how do we keep track of/preserve media in the digital age? It’s something that I wonder about once in a while. I save some documents on an external hard drive, but for all I know the next laptop I buy may not even have a USB port. Many of my documents live in Google Drive, which probably has a little more lasting power, but for how much longer will I be able to move them between different iterations of Microsoft Office? Just think of all those WordPad documents nobody will take the time to open again… I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the details of this issue or a broader philosophy concerning humans needing to leave a mark (thus making disappearing writing a bit worrisome). From what I can tell the conversation surrounding the issue is mostly taken up by historians and librarians, though I think there’s an under-discussed personal aspect to it as well. There is freedom in throwing your work into the churning mass of online communication, but there’s also a sense of nostalgia for how we use to share written work between generations. I can read letters saved by my grandparents for decades, but I can’t even remember the password to my old Hotmail account, so those letters are lost (and maybe it’s for the best). I, in no way, want to say “Just print it all off!” but I’d like to know how people are dealing with this cultural transition as our “marks” become seemingly more ephemeral.

Pertinent Pages:

Library of Congress. (2010). “Why Digital Preservation is Important for Everyone” (Video)

Marshall, C. (2008). “Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving.” 

MIT. (2015). “Personal Digital Archiving Strategies” (PDF)


What I Really Really Want – Teaching Digital Compassion

On a very basic level, I would like to learn strategies for teaching digital citizenship to middle/high school students. Specifically, I’d like to know more about developing their digital compassion/empathy. To me this isn’t just “How do we prevent cyberbullying?” (though that is in there somewhere). It is usually more productive to approach a topic from what you “should do” or “can do” versus what you “shouldn’t do,” and most importantly, discussing why. Part of this topic is certainly web presence, but I’d like to go beyond thinking about how others see us and focus on how we’re engaging with others. I want to know how to encourage students to act with compassion towards people they can’t immediately see, both on a small scale (their classmates after school hours) and globally. Too often we use the refrain “Well, would you say that to their face?” We try to explain the reasoning behind digital citizenship with tenets of in-person citizenship, which may have many correlations but shouldn’t it be able to stand up for itself? We know people have a tendency to act differently online than they do in person. So, how do we teach that online version of a student in its own environment? Can we find a way to better address the development of students’ digital moral compasses?

Pertinent Pages:

ISTE: 9 Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship

Building Empathy and Compassion in the Digital Age