Defining your, my, our Digital Footprint(s)

A Digital Footprint is the digital/ data record of your interactions with the digital world. Key questions are who has access to the data, what rights does each party have to the data and how all data has intended and unintended consequencies.  

The interactions that creates that data that is a digital footprint includes:- 
  • The content a user leaves about themselves and the content that others leave about the user by digital actions 
  • The user generated data and content includes blogs, comments left on public sites, photo’s or a profile up-loaded and content a user creates on a social networking site. 
  • The content left by others about someone else
  • Explicit data from the interactions a user has with the digital world. This is where a users activities is captured, the types of details captured include web pages viewed, the frequency of visits along with the intervals between them, clicks, the time spent on each page, interactions with forms, landing pages, and downloadable content. In reality every click, mouse move, keystroke and interaction with the web (from a PC or mobile) is captured and stored. 
  • Implicit data or implied data such as IP address, who and where the ISP is, attention,  device identifier (MAC), location (physical and derived), reputation, context, call records, routes and routines, liking, friending, burst data, behaviour, and linking this (meta) data to other data. 
Collecting digital data is a cost, as it the storage.

Digital footprints are made up from extremely personal and private data and is subject to strict privacy laws which should provide strong protection for the user, but the user often agrees by giving their consent to waive their rights.

The analysis of data is where some value lies and that value is understanding your behavioural, profiling, targeting, personailsation, prospecting, normalising, group profiling, feature profiles, benefit trades and determination of who influences you and who you influence. 

The actual economic value is how you spend your earnings and savings, it is this that those who control your digital footprint would like to influnace, direct and control.

Personally I am not struck by the term "digital exhaust" as something different to a digital footprint. Often a digital exhaust is defining you just what you leave behind or emit but limiting our understanding to this would mean we don't properly define the digital data that defines you in a digital world.

Finally the phase “Digital Footprint” is also used in two further context, the first is by companies or individuals trying to show which geographies or markets their digital services is offered “Our Digital Footprint” and by companies taking about the size of a digital device, where footprint means area.

For other views there is always Wikipedia