Digital Proxies workshops

Registrations are now open for workshops on how information workers act as ‘digital proxies’. Digital proxies, for this research, are those who access online systems on behalf of others to help their clients – with their permission, possibly informally. For example, a staff member may help someone log into a benefits-claim system and enter data to make a claim.

We invite staff from local government, libraries, civil society and third sector organisations who act as digital proxies – and staff who shape such work – to join us at one of 3 workshops. (Click the links to register on Eventbrite.)

If you would like to take part but can’t make any of these, please email

The workshops are part of a project being undertaken at the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University by Dr Gemma WebsterDr David BrazierPeter Cruickshank and Dr Bruce Ryan.

Through this work, we are investigating information practices associated with digital identity – such as the sharing of log-in details and other personal data to engage with online systems – and developing the concept of ‘digital proxies’.

In the workshops, we will work to understand the issues information workers face when supporting (potentially vulnerable) citizens to use digital systems that are increasingly integral to their every-day lives, and the backgrounds to these issues. We will do this using a set of pre-defined scenarios, based around access to services provided by (for example)  governments, utility companies and financial institutions.


We will open the workshops about 15 minutes before the ‘official’ start time, so people can make sure they have connected before we get going. If you have any problems connecting, please email

Where: Microsoft Teams.

  • You can use Teams in a web-browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc).
  • Or you can use the Teams app (available from Microsoft’s website).

This guide may be helpful for both:


  • staff from local government, libraries, civil society and third sector organisations who act as digital proxies
  • staff who shape such work (e.g. developing systems and processes, relevant managers and organisation-leaders).

Background information

Over the last decade, most levels of government and many other organisations have been implementing a policy (often called ‘digital by default’ or ‘digital-first’) in the name of efficiency and cost savings to prioritise online services such as Universal Credit and myaccount. At the same time, barriers around such services have been increasing, making it more challenging for everyone to actually access and use the services they need. This is bound to impact the information practices of many users. One result might be the temptation to avoid the use of some online systems altogether, but this is often not a practical option. Another could be individuals using risky behaviours with their digital identity, such as sharing passwords, with obvious implications for data protection and privacy.

The primary focus of this work is online services (e.g. government or utilities), partnering with system owners, citizen support/advocacy groups and other stakeholders to understand how they are supporting (vulnerable) citizens to better cope with increased online systems that are integral to their everyday lives.

Please contact Bruce Ryan if you have further questions about the event or the project as a whole.