When I started collecting my grad school work online in 2008, I decided it would continue living online indefinitely. Right now on my website you can see my library school coursework starting from nearly 8 years ago. Certainly this can be seen as developmental work — I would produce different, more finessed, and probably higher quality products if I were to tackle them now after so many years of experience and learning under my belt.
When I started my ONID work in 2012, we were to produce drafts of our work for most classes, then post the final version of our products to our portfolios. I obliged in that last step but also linked the blog post on the final product page. I felt like the drafts and peer comments were an important part of the process and didn’t feel the need to hide them away. At some point, I stopped making the separate posts and just linked to the original blog posts.
But this is grad school. I was nearly 26 when I started posting my work in this way. How would I feel if people could also search and readily find my work from kindergarten? High school? And how would that impact me today? I’m not sure. This brings me to the question I would like to explore over the course of this semester:
What are the pros and cons of showing long term development online?
I don’t know that I am hoping the class offers me the answer but I do think this is something that I want to explore in a Choice assignment if it isn’t something we otherwise cover. I think the answer to this question (if there is an answer) is very important for us to tackle as we consider the ways we encourage young people around us to post online — or not.
What a fascinating post! I must admit that I am a bit jealous that you still have all our writings from your MLS degree in one space. Although I have been in the postsecondary education system for 10 years now (4 year B.A., 2 year M.A., 4 year Ph.D), my writing is dispersed in a wide variety of places. I honestly cannot remember what I was writing about in 2015, let alone 2006 or 2010!
I also think that your questions regarding online presence are important. I do believe there are cons for a prolific, “real” (meaning, good and bad) online presence, but not in all circumstances. I think it depends upon the type of professional position you hold, the type of person you want others to perceive you as, and the type of “personal brand” you want to promote. For instance, those with political and high profile business aspirations (where image management is very important) probably need to be very careful about what they post online. With cybervetting on the rise, these posts can have real implications for their career development. I am by no means saying that they should have no or only a “perfect” online presence, but their online presence needs to be carefully managed and perhaps even made to appear more “perfect” than not.
That being said, for other positions, an active online presence is necessary. As a library science professional, you need an active, perhaps even prolific online presence to appear as credible to your field…
Long story short, you bring up a lot of great questions. I am probably more conservative on this issue than I should be, admittedly. 🙂
I cannot think of a con.
I am impressed that you see the value of your past work on showing your process; my position is that much of school is focused on the final “thing” (paper, presentation, dissertation) and we pretty much destroy the track record of how we got there. I am fanatic about not tearing holes in the fabric of the web.
Part of this is is a consideration of “how I am seen in the world” – this is where people get wrapped up in their perceived image as seen online. To the part that we hear the advice of “never put anything online that would make you look bad” to me is, turning around, that one should create only a perfect projection of themselves, not one fault (some people call this “Facebook”).
I for one would not be part of any [organization, group, job] that dismissed the whole of everything good I did by one embarrassing photo.
But the other part is what this record can do for you, as a record of your own growth, and a basis to reflect as needed.
My hunch is you might be thinking about this as a single entity. I would focus on one portfolio, calling card site that really represents the best of you now, or what you want the world to see. That’s the link you put in your profile, business cards.
The other stuff might be better archived as separate sites, like something that is clear it was your kindergarten or undergraduate time period. It should be clear, but there are ways to label it as clearly archive material. I love seeing my old stuff, and I find it hard to think that anyone coming across it would really construe it as what I am today.
I cannot put into proper words the value of having 13 years of blogging (plus a few static old web sites) as my own record of ideas, and growth. With a search, I can tell you what I was working on or thinking about on almost any date. I end up searching often to find ideas I vaguely remember (and much I forget), for me, the blogging is totally for my own thinking, not some nebulous imaginary audience. Real audience is just a bonus.
I am also aware that my own preferences and experiences cannot be extended to everybody. But if you actively assert the presence you want to emphasize, that dominates and makes clear what is in the past. And I would rather be the active agent in that, rather than passively letting Google or [fill in the blank social media] define us.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reflect on your experience and thoughts on this.
I am glad to see the trend where at least some people are bucking this arbitrary “requirement” to project themselves as perfect. I have someone on my friends list that gets on me when I post things about the realities of parenting. Things like, “When you say ‘I love you; to your baby at 4:30am and he hasn’t slept yet (so neither have you), it’s less an expression of how you’re feeling at the moment and more an attempt to remind (convince?) yourself.” (See that? Not only did I post that on Facebook but here I am repeating it on a public-facing blog… one I use for academic/professional purposes, no less.) She likes to paint a rosy and wonderful picture of her home life and thinks I should to. Nah, I’m good. Sharing only the lovely parts of our lives is what makes people depressed. I’d rather be real. Thankfully many more people on my friends list share my philosophy and are there to commiserate with me!
The same goes for our professional and academic lives as well. I am not a perfect person in these arenas either. Just one who is constantly working through challenges, learning, growing. I’d rather employ someone who believes in honesty, self-improvement, and growth over someone who comes to me (supposedly) perfect.
The keeping things in separate places strategy is a good one and does seem to address most concerns. My inclusion of my all of my academic and career development post-undergrad here on this site makes sense considering the focus of this site and the persona I want to reflect: that I am a chronic learner. I want to know all the things and I just can’t stop (which is totally true).
Thanks for providing some background into how you manage your online presence. I also appreciate your sharing the example of the struggles and joys of parenting. This is a great example for explaining your point that you want to be perceived as “real” online.
From my perspective, both you and your friend (who only posts positive aspects of her life online) are doing the same thing: engaging in strategic online self-presentation. I see the word “strategic” is the most important here. You want your readers to see your writing progress, your humanness, etc. You want others to view you as someone who is real and constantly improving herself. You have taken the time to think through this issue, and your engagement in digital formats supports this stance.
This, to me, is the heart of self-presentation and what we need to be teaching our students. Students need to be aware that they have the ability to create a strategic online presence, and they need to think through what they want this online presence to look like. For a number of years now, we (the communication, business fields, at least from my standpoint) have emphasized to our students the need to cultivate a “positive” online presence. This emphasis is incomplete. Instead, we need to teach our students to think about digital footprints and provide them with the skills to create the digital footprint they want to promote online.
Thanks again… I definitely am going to continue thinking through my thoughts here on this fascinating topic.
I hope you do explore this as part of Your Choice…which this whole course basically is!
I also hope that, given the variety of experience in the class, people will chime in on the multiple questions: the value of sharing in the long term and the related question of children’s presences online, including from the perspective of parents making choices for them. That second question really deserves some choice exploration of its own!