Every time we fill in an order form, shop online, we leave a trace on the web.
Every time we like a status, tweet a link, comment on a blog post, we leave a trace on the web.
These traces are left deliberately.
Every time we open a browser, we leave a trace on the web.
Every time we log in to Facebook or check Gmail, we leave a trace on the web.
These traces are left unintentionally.
Privacy, personal data, its collection and surveillance are at the heart of necessary, current political, ethical and technological debates.
Given the rapid changes in technology and ever growing networks of users, these debates and the economic models they are pointing to raise unprecedented matters that traditional regulation and legislation institutions are slow to adapt to.
So what to do in the meantime, as our respective and collective digital activity continues to increase?
While the technology as it stands to date only allows us to take limited steps to fully control our digital identity, we can be deliberate about the choices we make and the actions we take when using online services.
Rather than being paranoid and buying in the media frenzy around the topic, best is to get informed, investigate options and negotiate what we are prepared to concede.
By growing our digital skills we become more comfortable in any online space.  We grow our activity from being a consumer of services to a producer of content: expressing oneself in the right place in the right tone is more empowering than seeking to protect ourselves.
We can develop a managed digital presence and thus generate traces which nature and quality we have control over. We can be proactive, in a marketing sense if we so wish, and have a digital presence. We can make our own choices, self organize, self regulate, reflect and be a digital presence online. Just as we can in real life.
And just like in real life, our behaviors, contributions and learning are shaped by the information we have access to, the people we interact with, the experiences we have and share. Increasing our digital competencies allows to build a coherent digital presence, to be productive and fulfilled. And it allows to leverage more readily the power of the networks that we build.

Coming up: the networks we build.

Reference: Louise Merzeau Quelle Présence Numérique?
Image: Fred Cavazza

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