Thing 5: Diversity

I first read the two recommended articles:

How Apple’s new multicultural emojis are more racist than before

Yeah, Facebook Messender’s New Diverse Emoji Actually Matter

I’d only been vaguely aware of the move for more diverse emojis and these two articles were thought provoking. I tend to think of emoticons as text based as in “:-)” for smile or “;-)” for wink – these are about the only two I routinely use. My first thought is that life was simpler when you were restricted to a few characters to express an idea rather than a full graphical image? Diversity is clearly important and it should be a good thing to see companies trying to address bias , conscious and unconscious, within digital tools. Though the articles suggest these are a still long way from accurate representation and as Paige Tutt points out in the Washington post article that this may have brought race into contexts where it was not present before “Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially”. It appears that in trying to address diversity these example merely made visible some of the unconscious assumptions of the designers? But I don’t agree that concern with emojis and diversity are frivolous  – people are subtly influenced by the tools at their disposal  and the tacit implications embedded within them should be explored. Perhaps by starting these conversations Apple and Facebook will encourage the digital industry to move toward more nuanced and considered emojis to represent the diversity of their users. Though you get the impression they would do well to actually include a diverse range of people in the development of these to actually represent a broader range of people.

Next I went to look at Bitmojis, the avatars of conversation.

I visited the Bitmoji website and experiment with the avatar creation. It was kind of fun to create a moji that looked like me (well sort of!) I liked being able to add in my facial lines! But obviously you have you make a few compromises along the way. But it really came into its own why you see the pictures I can add into my emails! Actually I’m really very dull and tend to just write text in emails, but I might start using these now!

This is probably the way forward, if you can create your own images to represent yourself, rather than have to rely on large corporations to accurately represent real people.




Thing 4: Digital Security

First I read the Smartphone Security Information created by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).The ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest. Two documents are available on the page, the first ‘Using apps safely and securely’ and the second ‘Safer Smartphones – A Guide to Keeping your Device Secure’.

There was good advice in these guides, much of which I was aware of , but I’m not always sure how much I follow! I hadn’t really been aware of the contents rating on Apps but that is useful to think about as a parent. I was reminded to look up the IMEI number of my phone, I was aware of this but had forgotten to make a note of the new number when I go a new handset.

Next I went to have a look at the permissions required by Apps on my android phone, and found a few things that surprised me! I was interested to see that an App I installed to collect loyalty points from a restaurant require access to my Contacts, Location, Phone and Storage!

I can see why it might want access to location – to verify if I was in or near a restaurant, but I can’t see why it would ‘need’ access to the other aspects? I’ve turned all the permissions off.


I also found an app called ‘Emergency Alerts’ which I’d no idea was there (I assume it was pre-installed on my handset) – it  has permissions set to access Location and SMS and I’m kind of curious to know what it is? After a wee Google I find this is a built in feature, which there are setting for within your phone. I find the whole thing kind of creepy? But maybe it’s just because I wasn’t aware it was there. There is also a second App called ‘Motorola Alert‘ which is installed but that I’ve never set up, which will allow me to send an emergency message to contacts and asks them to meet you or follow you and uses GPS to pick up your location. Again the whole idea kind of freaks me out!

I tried the My Permissions App from Google Play  – it runs a fancy little animation as it scans tells tells me that 26 Apps threaten my privacy.


This doesn’t sound great! So I look at the details:

Apparently the Cbeebies Playtime App is High Risk ? I’m a bigger believer in the BBC so I find this hard to believe (by the way I’d highly recommend this App – lots of great games pitched at the right level for young children and no in App Adverts or purchases)? All of the functionality it requires is part of the games within the App – taking pictures and videos, recording Audio – I’m willing to Trust this one.

Audible is shown as High Risk – but the permissions for this make sense to me in terms of the Apps functionality.

Amazon Shopping is also marked as High Risk – some of it’s permissions look less justifiable? Why would this App need to take pictures and videos? Or more concerning read my contacts? I’m not going to uninstall this but I’ll go in and look again at the permissions. Actually I do try to uninstall it only to discover this is premium feature of the “My Permissions App” which I can only use if I pay for a £13.99 annual subscription. It makes me a bit skeptical – this product has a vested interest in me thinking I need protected, there is money to be made from this? I found it useful as the interface makes it really easy to see the App permissions, but this App does not seem to recommend most of the Apps I use, and there is not an option within it to adjust permissions, only to trust or uninstall.

I’ve got a fairly long list of Medium Risk Apps  but based on the high risk ones, I’m less inclined to take this too seriously.

Thing 3: Digital Footprint

I found the Digital Footprint document on e-Professionalism  a thoughtful and practical guide. I was interested in the emphasis on what you want to be in the future and on the future audience:

  • What information do you want someone to find, if they search for you online?
  • Do you want to keep your professional and personal identities separate or blended?
  • What advantages/disadvantages might this have both in the short and longer term?
  • If you have multiple online identities on different platforms, is it obvious that they belong to you?

Much of this guide is about intentionalality – reflecting on what you are doing and why?

I also like the points made about “voice” including the crucial are you writing in a personal or professional capacity? You can be writing in an informal style – but still in a professional capacity for example.

The Digital Footprint E-professionalism Case Study is a useful resource which gives you some good ideas for conducting your own ‘digital footprint’ audit.

My name is fairly common so I don’t find myself high up the google search terms with this alone (this could be considered an advantage if you don’t want to be found easily!) . I am on the first page of listings of people with my name on LinkedIn – which is where I’d like to be found. If I add my home town I see several results, top of the list in my profile on our team blog – again I’m happy to be associated with this!

I did find a couple of neglected profiles – so I may need to follow up with a little pruning!


Thing 2: taking part & guidelines

A) what you hope to gain out of the 23 Things programme.

I’m lucky enough to be working at the University of Edinburgh and am one of the people on the 23 Things Team. I’m so excited about it that I also want to take part. I hope its going to be fun and will challenge me to try new things.

B) were you aware of the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers or the student Social Media Student Handbook? What do you think of the guidelines/handbook?

Yes I’m aware of the “Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers” and was involved in  updating the last version. I’m really interested to find out what participants of  the 23 Things programme think of these guidelines – we can feed this into the next version.  The Social Media Student Handbook is a nice addition because its more concise and student specific.