It’s a person that spends hours a day online, interacting with a digital network of human beings and information. It’s a person that shares photos, feelings, and experiences from their life with their networks. It’s a person that shares information on the web that can be interacted with from anywhere in the world.
Are you a Global Digital Citizen?
Citizen: A member of a community entitled to certain rights and privileges as distinguished from other non-members.
Digital: Electronic information or data that represents something in a non physical form. Often associated with computers and their interconnected networks, digital is a state of being.
Global: A state of being that applies to the entire world.
State of Being: the overall physical condition of a person, the quality of a person.
State of Mind: the psychological state of a persons mind, the condition that characterizes the persons feelings.
I’ve been growing increasingly certain that beneath the surface of society, there are significant changes occurring. One such change is the rise of the Global Digital Citizen. Happening right under our eyes, this “thing” is the radical digitization of the human experience, the digitization our lives. The human identity is quickly becoming inextricably intertwined with digital existence and there are consequences to this combination.
As the internet became a daily part of our lives we began to set expectations for our digital interactions. At first, we formed small communities through digital bulletin boards, eventually propagating blog communities and most recently, a variety of social networking platforms have become a major part of our lives. These digital communities are a major aspect of how we express ourselves, how we interact with other people and how we experience culture at a societal level. Digital communities have become a major part of our individual identities.
As time has passed, multiple generations have now had exposure to the internet. As a result, different levels of trust and comfortability with digital expression exist between generations. What is becoming universally clear however, is that there is an underlying expectation from users that access to the internet is a human right. The ability to express ourselves has for a long time been viewed as a human right but now the ability to express ourselves digitally is also thought of as a human right.
We are now in a sense, Global Digital Citizens: members of a global online society with the expectation of rights and privileges. As Digital Citizens, we view our online presence as both a state of being and a state of mind, ie: a manifestation of our personal wellness that must be protected. Our digital interactions have consequences on our state of being and negative actions perpetrated by one against another should be policed.
This experience, a growing phenomenon, is happening under the visible surface of society. It’s happening under our noses, without the ability to name or characterize the experience. We aren’t collecting and documenting these society level changes to better understand the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order consequences.
What does it mean to be a Global Digital Citizen? Do the interactions we have in digital settings carry the same weight as physical interactions? Who governs the digital universe? If I engage a Chinese business through Alibaba to buy a certain good but ultimately get scammed, how am I to be protected? Alibaba works to prevent these interactions from a platform governance standpoint (it makes business sense) but there is only so much the US government can do to pursue small scale scams against another nation state.
As younger generations grow up and begin to have children, the future of humanity will become more interconnected with their digital selves. Improved technology will only make this more of a reality.
As I’ve worked to write about the future of technology and the process for which someone can build a digital presence, I have become acutely aware of this interconnectedness. Global Digital Citizenship is something worth defining, characterizing and understanding. My goal, is to do these things. Beginning by working on the concept of GDC and sharing it with the world.