Now I’ve been a digital student for about 3 years, and this weekend I had another chance to take my digital self into the analogue world for Athabasca’s first grad student conference. While the nerves just about did me in, I made it through the weekend ecstatic about the whole experience.
First I must mention, I was presenting at the conference… a very applicable topic – autobiography and the digital world. I wanted to use autobiographical theory to explain how we develop a believable, and hence FUNCTIONAL, digital identity. A good autobiography, like a good digital presence, shares something of our humanness and makes us a REAL textual person – a person others can relate to, a story they can draw on in understanding their own journeys through life. Like reading a good autobiography, meeting a digital self can help you expand what you believe is possible in a life.
Thiswhole process has been a huge exercise in reflection. On the one hand, I was aware that the self most of my audience was familiar with was my digital self. In fact, this is the a priori self – this textual, video, photographic avatar. My analogue self would need to be consistent with my digital. Not difficult for me as I’m pretty much the same person in both places, but I struggled with finding space to present all of the aspects of my digital self that I wanted to bring across in this analogue circumstance with its temporal limitations. I only had 15 minutes (!!!!!) to present! How could I possibly include everything in such a short time span? I had to broaden my scope.
I decided to make my entire weekend a part of my presentation – again, not too difficult as my topic was autobiography – and meld the digital and analogue as much as possible. Friday night’s meet and greet came and went and I introduced myself in both spaces, leveraging my more established digital self to make space for my analogue expression:
@onepercentyello what?! did I miss out an a ukelele concert?! hoping for an interludium later on today—
Ignatia Inge deWaard (@Ignatia) September 15, 2012
Saturday night I got to bring my ukulele-playing, participatory-music-promoting, dancing, laughing, kazoo-toting self! The most precious moment of the entire weekend was when Terry Anderson, an educator and theorist I highly respect, played my kazoo along with the horn section of the band! After interacting with everyone’s “real” self (and here I oppose it with their polished, professional, academic selves), how could I be nervous?
Sunday morning Katherine Janzen welcomed me with tales of metamorphosis in the educational journey. The butterfly, present so much in my life this year, showed itself once again to remind me to step forward with courage. And I did, with new friends in the audience, and old friends tuning in on #ds106radio.
I’m excited to put Mark McCutcheon’s (@sonicfiction) question to work in my further research. What exactly do I mean by authenticity? And I’m happy to have such a positive experience under my belt. I will continue to use this research as I participate in conversations later this week on digital education in Liberal Arts universities.
But what I will take away the most is the confidence this experience has given me. I wrote, I practiced, I edited, I practiced, I worried, I practiced and finally I presented. While those 15 minutes were important, it was sharing my uke, my love of music, and my broader self that made the connections that will last beyond this presentation. Once I had made a space for my whole person to attend the conference, that shy, self-conscious, impostor-syndrome-suffering academic wasn’t alone. She had a musician, a gypsy, and a connected educator at her side, and with that host of selves lending their light, the academic in me could shine.