Lawrie Phipps and Donna Lanclos have developed a new digital tool so that people can reflect on their digital identity. Here are some of my initial thoughts about it.

What is the Digital Perceptions tool?

Lawrie outlines how the tool is based on The Johari Window in a recent blog post :

“What is the tool for? The tool is for reflecting on your digital identity, or how you are perceived by others online. It is not a diagnostic tool! It will not tell you what to fix. However, it might help you in planning how you to develop your identity in the future.”

The Digital Perceptions tool is now live and open to anyone to use. The first task is to select 5 or 6 words that describe your own digital identity. These words/phrases are then put into the Johari Window labeled ‘Facade’, although this window is kept private. Next you then send the link to the Johari Window that you have created, to 4 or 5 people you know. They in turn select the words or phrases that best suits your digital identity. Words that match your own appear in the ‘Arena’ window, those that don’t match yours appear in the ‘Blind Spot’ window.

Here is my digital identity, as mapped out using the Digital Perceptions tool:

Digital window

How useful was it for me?

I think so. All the words I selected were also chosen by my ‘reviewers’; collaborates, authentic online, shares ideas, digitally fluent, creative, engages. So I guess its good to know that my perception of myself is matched by others. They in turn, added another 10 words or phrases – again I would agree that I do all of these too, at some point online. So in total it pretty much confirms what I think anyway.

One area that is omitted is the word ‘political’, which is included in the ‘Unknown’ window above. I was a little surprised by this as I thought I did Tweet quite a lot of political stuff. However, I also know it can be a contentious area so maybe I’m a bit more cautious than I thought I was regarding my political exchanges. Is this something I want to change? Probably yes!

How useful is it?

Firstly, it gives us feedback on our digital identity. We don’t get this is normal life, we use various digital tools but at no point do we actually get any feedback on the type of persona we are creating. We think we know what our image is but how true is it? And the crucial point is, if we don’t get feedback there is no reason to change. Once we get that feedback we can decide on the things that are agreeable/disagreeable and do we want to change them?

Secondly, using this tool gets us away from using frameworks or models that interpret our behaviour as simple binary opposites. Models such as, the Prensky’s digital natives/immigrants or the more recent Visitors/residents framework set out to give us  a better understanding of our digital presence but often ends up oversimplifying or even encouraging us to adopt an ‘ideal’ type of digital behaviour. The major advantage of the Digital Perception tool is that it is not prescriptive, it really is aiming to be a reflective tool that is trying to capture some of the complex and non-linear ways that we interact in the online environment. Once the Johari Window has been completed it really opens up the possibility to enable the participant to reflect on their own identity and how and if they want to do anything about it.


Using the Digital Perceptions tool does require an element of safety and trust and I suppose my question is can we do this online? Are those reviewing likely to pick some of the words that might have some negative conigtations like ‘argumenative’ or ‘judgemental’. Maybe yes, as its anonymous but i’m not so sure.

I think the tool probably works best for those with the established digital identity and maybe not so well for the new starters. Its probably hard for those to complete who are new or not working much in digital environments. So maybe its not aimed at them, but maybe with some new words or phrases it could incorporate them too.


Apologies if I missed these somewhere but I went into using the DP tool without much thought and might have missed some of the information that was provided.

  1. More guidance on selecting who you send the window to. I think the instructions asks you to send the link to 4 or 5 people that you know. Crucially these people will shape the whole exercise. The people I sent them to were people I knew and had established face2face relationships with…maybe it would have been more useful to send the link to people I hadn’t met in person and knew just in an online capacity?
  2. Why am I doing this? Again, probably because I didn’t give it much thought I sent the link to my reviewers without much of an explanation. Maybe there could be sentance or two that summarises the tool, so that it could be copied and  sent on to the ‘reviewers’  when they aske to complete it?.
  3. Space for open feedback. I havent fully thought this through but maybe it would be useful for those giving the feedback to choose their own wording (in addition to the words/phrases supplied). Although I can see this will be more difficult to code in the tool.
  4. Maybe some guidance is needed to interpret the results. This could take the form of some open-ended questions, such as, what did your reviewers agree with? Did the reviewers suggests new traits you had not thought about? etc

Anyway its a great new tool and I would definitely recommend it anyone to try it out. I certainly learnt a thing or two and can see the potential of getting others to use it too. Check it out!