Our online identity

identity crisis by woodleywonderworks via flickr CC

In June, I blogged about the issues of online privacy and security and I’m revisiting that a bit in the context of online identities.

The places you can find me online are outlined in a post here but the issue of online identity is a bit more complex than just a list of social media sites.

Because our online identities are public (often more public than we realise, in spite of privacy controls (Pearson 2009, Raynes-Goldie 2010)) it is important to manage the message that goes out to other people. Pearson says many people use a form of censorship in thinking about what to put out under their online identity – for example, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother/kids/boss to read.

This is a practical form of privacy control and allows for the ever-present possibility that someone other than your target audience is reading your profile, status updates, e-portfolio or blog posts.

Harris (2010) looks at this from the other end – what can those of us in perceived positions of power or authority do to protect ourselves and our online identities so that they are not construed as being used inappropriately? The example Harris uses is teachers but this is relevant for those working in library and information services as well. From an institutional point of view, good policies around social media and communication can be an important part of safeguarding online identity, of both the institution and the individual staff involved.

In the professional world of libraries and information science, maintaining an online identity is increasingly important for individuals working in the space. Much of my professional informal learning and information exchange is via social media and it enables me to stay connected with others working in a similar field.

Managing the standard of that personal brand may be tricky because social media allows the personal and the professional brands to merge online – for example, my Facebook presence is largely for family and friends but some of those people are also professional colleagues.

Merely by putting our personal brand ‘out there’ in cyber space means we are, to some degree, forfeiting the right to privacy as it has been traditionally understood (Pearson 2010). We need to be aware that working and posting and commenting in the public social media space is akin to putting up a poster on a telegraph pole with our personal details and photograph attached (Hutton 2008). As I said in my June post – I’m ok with that, but the integrity of my personal brand is dependent on that being in the back of my mind every time I press send or publish.

References:

Harris, C. (2010). Friend me?: School policy may address friending students online, School Library Journal, 1 April. Available http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6724235.html

Hutton, G. 2008, Privacy & online social networks: a proposed approach for academic librarians in university libraries, Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, Vol. 4 http://ocs.library.dal.ca/ojs/index.php/djim/article/view/2008vol4Hutton/67
Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a dog: Personal identity and the internet. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77.
Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Availablehttp://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432
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One thought on “Our online identity

  1. Pingback: Reflection and evaluation « Opinions from an OPL

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