Digital footprints

This is an exploration of digital footprints as a way of demonstrating competence (especially in emerging areas which lack the easy reference points of academic accreditation, military rank, and similar traditional evidence of position and reputation).

The initiators

Pamela McLean and Nikki Fishman

Write up by

Pamela McLean

The backstory

There are established mechanisms for demonstrating competence in "established academia" and traditional career paths. There are recognised means of formal accreditation and providing references. This is not so in the less structured worlds of "alternative academia", freelancing, agile collaborative working, and such like.

It is also relevant that many people - especially young people - unwittingly create a negative digital footprint through scattering their wilder exploits across the Internet through tweets, facebook and such like.

We want to use the Internet to help people (especially those outside any formal accreditation system) to show who they are and what they can do.

The catalyst

There was no specific catalyst. The need became evident in many different ways and at many different times. Much of the work in Dadamac has been an attempt to create digital evidence of work done, value created, and possible value to others.

If we are to choose a specific event as a catalys then one possibility is the time when we were discussing the business plan for Collage-network and the need for some kind of metrics to measure success. If we are to demonstrate that people benefit from being part fo Collage-network then some kind of generation of digital footprints seems the right way to go.

Timeline (written July 2012)

  • 2011 - start of discussions with Neil Batchelor
     about his ongoing work on personal profiling and digital footprints
  • 2012 - need for metrics within Collage-network for the business plan, and funding bids.
  • 2012 - practical work with individuals in Collage-network and early explorations of the collaborative work people were starting to do and what was being learned.

The ongoing story

The ongoing story will become evident through the visbility of digital footprints.


There are many people who are influencing this digital footprint work (knowlngly or unknowingly): Andy Broomfield (who is the patient technical wizard behind my experiments on, Neil Bachelor (who does interesting work related to psychometrics online and other aspects of digital footprints), Fred Garnett (who, amongst other things, is the creative force behind wiki-quals) and many others who are active in the same spaces as Nikki and I

Future vision

We hope to develop appropriate ways for people in Collage-network and Dadamacademy to have a digital footbprint which serves as a record of achievement, evidence of high-trust releationships, and an illustration of skills, knowledge and aptitudes.

Learning Issues

Finding effective alternatives to established accreditation is one of the key issues in the emergence of 21st century systems of education and training.

Update December 2012

Neil is making good progress with his project, and gained a catalyst award for it with RSA. Nikki has been building a core Collage-network group in Croydon, but they are more at home face-to-face than online. We can still encourage them to try out Neil's software. Nikki is continually generating evidence online of what she is doing in Collage-network, and I generate evidence too. It's getting easier all the time to bring different things together. This can be put aside for now.