The “digital shadow” in the broad sense is the informational representation of events, phenomena and objects of the entisphere and the cognisphere in the digital infosphere.

“Digital shadow” in a narrower sense can be defined as the informational representation of events, phenomena and objects of the entisphere and the cognisphere in the digital infosphere that has arisen without the individual’s direct involvement.

The development of a multitude of new interfaces, which enable the transition of information between the spheres, enables an increasing amount of information to be recorded in the digital infosphere without it having to be actively fed in by the information carrier. Thus, from the perspective of the original information carrier, an informational representation, the “digital shadow”, is created in a passive way.

The expression “digital shadow” obviously originated as neologism with a metaphorical reference. A “digital shadow” is an informational representation of an object in another medium, in the similar way as a shadow, which is thrown onto a surface as a projection of the contours marked by differences in brightness, which thus becomes an information carrier. It is characterized by a partial image, like a shadow that only reflects the contours but does not reflect the rest of the information. In the expression of the “digital shadow” in a narrower sense, there is also the metaphorical parallel that the creation takes place without the help of the object casting the shadow.

The “digital shadow” (in the broad sense) of a natural person is also called the “digital footprint”. If “digital shadow” means only passively generated information, the “digital footprint” consists of the “digital shadow” plus the actively generated information.

How to Cite

The definition given above was proposed as part of the Digital Era Framework by Dr. Dr. Jörn Lengsfeld. The text was first published in: Jörn Lengsfeld: Digital Era Framework. Please refer to the original publication if you want to cite the text.