This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Thursday 13 February 2020, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Location: Room SLB/118, Spring Lane Building, Campus West, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Information Services Lecture

Please note the change in venue from that previously advertised.

In the physical world we’ve only so much choice about how we appear: our clothes and our hairstyles can assert subcultural allegiances, but our interactions are all-too-often defined by how others perceive our ethnicity, our gender, our accent, our background… Our telephone voice can only take us so far. With the advent of the internet, such physical factors were stripped away: we became text on a page, divorced from our corporeal shells. We were our words; our avatars; our usernames… And why limit ourselves? Like with any new start, cyberspace was a chance for reinvention: an opportunity to find new ways to be; new ways to present ourselves. We might take on a whole new persona; maybe even a more authentic persona?

Anonymity may embolden us in negative ways as well as positive. We can become what we want to be, but sometimes what we want to be is a troll. In this lecture we’ll explore the opportunities and threats at play when presenting ourselves online. We’ll look at the personas we create, be they anonymous or even real-name. We’ll pick out the skills we need to seek out positive encounters in a global digital space, and to deal with the negatives should they arise. And we’ll investigate how anonymous we really are: Peter Steiner’s oft-quoted cartoon had it that “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”... but do they?  

Please note the change in venue from that previously advertised.

About the speakers

Susan Halfpenny and Steph Jesper

Susan Halfpenny has been working in libraries for the past 12 years in user education roles. She is currently Teaching and Learning Manager at the University of York; the team that she manages is responsible for user education for information and digital literacy.  In her time working in libraries she has led on a range of initiatives to develop staff and students digital capabilities, including the development of a digital skills framework, the rollout of Digital Wednesdays and the Skills Guides, and the creation of two online courses. She has an interest in digital creativity and the use of digital technologies to facilitate engagement with research.

Steph Jesper has spent the last umpteen years living in spreadsheets. She’s a qualified Librarian who moonlights in IT by being a Teaching and Learning Advisor in the Information Services Teaching and Learning team at the University of York, developing and delivering digital skills training for students and staff. Prior to that, she’s had fun at a range of educational establishments, as well as having had the less fun experience of trying to sell records online. Her role-model is Maggie Philbin, her favourite Doctor Who serial is The Stones of Blood, her Eurovision Song Contest of choice is 1977, and her preferred Treasure Hunt episode is Birmingham (series 2) – all things she’s been able to rewatch thanks to the internet.

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Hearing loop


Susan Halfpenny