23 Research Things – Thing 3

Thing 3 is all about managing your online identity, and involved the rather interesting exercise of Googling myself and seeing what came up.

I was not surprised by the the results: the first led to the staff profiles section of my library’s website, the second to my ORCiD profile, and the third and fifth to links on other people’s websites mentioning previous training I had delivered, and a journal edition I edited with several other students, back when I was a postgraduate. The first photos that come up in Google Images are all of me, and are professional photos that appear on my library’s website, followed by an old staff photo taken at a library where I worked previously. There were some links to Facebook profiles that did not belong to me (but not my own Facebook account), which I think is inevitable, given that my name is fairly common, but nothing that I found unduly troubling.

You might have noticed that I’ve outlined all these results without actually linking to them or mentioning my own name. This feeds into the unease I touched upon in my previous post in this series, where I wrote:

While I am a fairly early adopter of blogs and other social media tools such as Twitter (I have been blogging since 2003 and on Twitter since 2009), I have always been much more comfortable using them in a social and personal, rather than professional, context.

I like to keep my personal and professional lives firmly separated, and I hope that I’ve been fairly successful in doing so. However, this does have a drawback, in that my professional blog (i.e. this blog) and Twitter account are not linked to my real name (and indeed I feel quite uncomfortable doing so, even though my colleagues in my workplace know that they are mine, read my blog, and follow my Twitter account, and it’s fairly easy to find out who I am if you read this blog carefully). This means that my Twitter feed and professional blog do not come up in searches for my name – which could be a problem if I were ever to apply for a job that required applicants to demonstrate familiarity and engagement with social media. I may have to get over my discomfort of using my real name in a social media context!

I am of course aware that my search results are going to be somewhat skewed towards sites that I go to regularly, and other people’s Google searches of my name may not get the hits mine did, but it was relieving to know that rather than having privacy concerns or embarrassing photos surface, my problem is almost the opposite – there’s not much of me online, unless you know where to look!

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About thelibrarianerrant

I'm a senior library assistant in one of the faculty libraries of the University of Cambridge. My posts here are in a personal capacity, and are on any topics relating to library and information services.
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5 Responses to 23 Research Things – Thing 3

  1. librarysphinx says:

    Hi! Interesting thoughts! We have very different approaches but similar reasons behind them.

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    • Yes, I was really interested in the way you’ve managed this issue, and the decision you’ve made to equate online with professional space and the world offline as your personal/social context. I don’t think that would work for me, but I think your decision is a wise one.

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  2. I did struggle for a long time with whether to have my professional Twitter and blog accounts in my real name or not. Once I took the plunge, it was ok but it took some time to get to that stage.

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    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I think it’s harder for people who have been online socially a lot longer than they have been professionally. For people who associate online spaces solely with professional activities, it’s going to be easier to attach their real name to those activities. For people who have had to make the transition from social to professional activities online, the impulse to remain pseudonymous may be stronger.

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      • Definitely. I’ve done all sorts online from LiveJournals to Myspace to goodness knows how many forums over the years, but they’ve always been for fun (and by that I mean hobbies, not saying professional stuff can’t be fun) and often under a pseudonym. I don’t regret ‘going public’ with my professional social media things but I do occasionally have wobbly moments where I’ve said something or joked about something and I realise that it can be read by anyone. So I think what I’m saying is, the paranoia/anxiety of mixing stuff never really goes away but you just learn to adapt and manage it better. At least that’s been my experience!

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