Digital Boy Scout

I’ve done a lot of thinking about unqualified citizenship, and my thinking on digital citizenship is based entirely on that. Digital citizenship for me, in short, looks something like living the Scout Law online.

And since we aren’t allowed any links or research in this post, from memory, A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean, and
  • Reverent.

I think my initial thought on digital citizenship is about how we present ourselves in the digital public sphere and interact with each other. This begins to break down when we consider participatory democracy and community involvement as parts of citizenship, what I would describe as “civic duty.” What is required of us as digital citizens? We don’t digital vote or digital serve on digital juries. We don’t digital volunteer at the digital animal shelter or digital collect digital canned goods for the digital food bank.¬†

I have seen a place for participatory digital citizenship. We can do things like update Wikipedia, as a public service. We can participate in democracy by signing petitions, answering polls, donating to causes, and perhaps even participating in Anonymous actions. All of these activities¬†are actually non-digital citizenship executed in the digital sphere; and I don’t know how many people actually participate in them.

One reply on “Digital Boy Scout”

Given the idea of scouting, one obvious place to explore would be the various ideas of “digital badges” and the like. The hype cycle around them peaked a while back, but there’s still work being done and I still think some real benefits in the idea.

Anyway, while it’s true we don’t digitally vote or donate to digital food banks (and in some philosophically distant way, everything is subject to the n0tion that it still ties back to the physical world even if some of the actions are digital), we do have some analogies in the form of communities of learning and practice. When we share our processes, learning, knowledge and even wisdom, we are contributing to a shared commons in a very real way.

I think it comes down to whether one buys the idea that there is such a thing as “intellectual currency” or not. If one does—and I do, because I take part in it every day—then there are meaningful analogues to the physical practices you list…

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