Sunday, October 7, 2007
Develping my online identity
I have been thinking about online identity for some time and mulling over the aim of this blog, what my identity will be, and what the problems with this are. On the one hand I want to have a professional blog that attracts readers, informs them and becomes a productive part of the blogging community. At the same time, I think it is important that readers catch a glimpse of who I am as a person. However, I believe there is a real tension between the two things and the potential problem is that people such as employers or potential employers may be prejudiced against me by my writing especially if I am challenging or questioning in my opinion. Or, the 'personal' side of me may be seen to be unprofessional. For example, I have posted several posts today about the Rugby World Cup-is that professional behavior, or of any particular interest or relevance? So I am very conscious about what I blog and would say that I am not as provocative or questioning as I would like to be. Having said all that, what is the difference between publishing here on this blog and in a professional academic journal - my reputation will depend just as much on what I publish in journals, yet I never angst about that.
I am also conscious about the language I use and the way I write my blog. I wish to attract midwives and women who are interested in midwifery and childbirth, not just academics. So I think it is really important that I write in a relaxed manner that is easy to read and enjoyable. I have really enjoyed reading the blog of Gráinne Conole, Professor of E-learning in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. She has a really user-friendly way of writing and she displays a great sense of humor. That has really attracted me to her blog and makes me feel that she is approachable, despite being a 'professor'. This in turn has prompted me to leave comments on her blog.
Going back to my online identity, I have been challenged in my thinking by several articles by Michele Martin who has been pondering the same issues of online identity and transparency. Michele contends that one should be transparent in order to be honest and show people how your processes work. To be transparent online, one has to be transparent with oneself which promotes learning. Exposing oneself may be a frightening prospect but Michele believes it is rewarding. At the same time, it is probably very advisable not to write about unprofessional activities such your drinking binge at the weekend. Michele contends that employers are more likely to value a person who is multi-faceted with strengths and weaknesses.
So my reflections on all this: you cannot live your life designed to keep in people's good books all the time, and I would say that applies equally to your online life. Displaying critical thinking and reflection is more likely to add to your professional identity than detract from it. So whilst I will not be posting details of the orgy I attended at the weekend, I won't stop celebrating England's famous rugby victory this morning! I look forward to reaping the rewards of being more courageous and transparent in my postings.