Archive for March 30th, 2009

Splitting my online identity in two: Private vs Professional

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I have always been a great believer in openness online. This partly stems from my wish for acceptance and to be liked by others. In order to gather more attention to oneself, you need to expose more of yourself online. If I communicate to the world my likes and dislikes, it is easier to meet people who have similar interests. I have always believed this and continue to.

However, there are some challenges here. For one, you cannot please everyone all the time. The most potent example for me is my recent interest in “new atheism”. I have always had strong feelings about religion, superstition and critical thought, but found a voice for these feelings through the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens and others. This is a subject that very easily offends people.

The problem though, is that my blog, my Twitter account and other places I post content to, have garnered a very mixed audience.
– A part of my following is my family.
– Then there are close and less-close friends.
– Then there are acquaintances and people I know through gaming, mostly WoW
– Then there are several sysadmin/geek types, who follow me out of professional interest.
– Then there are several web20/geek types, who follow me in the web20/social media context.

The content I wish to provide these different groups does not often cross the boundaries of these groups very well.
For example, I know that if I where to post more on my Twitter account about the above mentioned religious stuff, I would soon loose a number of followers from the geek groups.
However, if I post to much on my primary blog and Twitter account about sysadmin stuff, gadgets, geeky things, I will bore to tears most of the first 3 groups.

When it came to the blog, I ran into this dilemma a long time ago. This is how came to be. A blog dedicated to my sysadmin stuff. The early idea was to join this community to gain some exposure.On the site, my blog would be amungst “peers” and fit well in.  However, it soon turned out that the geekswithblogs community consisted mostly of developers of the Microsoft flavour. I was more or less the only sysadmin that posted there regularly.

I also came to grow frustrated with the lack of platform maintenance the owners of the site paid to it. The blogging software there is totally outdated and of course add-supported. Even now I don’t have a way to export all my old blog posts from it, something I feel I will need to do at some point.

But as the social media landscape evolved, only segmenting off the blog content is now no longer enough. As described above, different content for different audiences means I cannot just create a separate blog. If I want to maintain and increase the level of online social interaction based on my professional life and my technical interests, I must create a separate space for these contexts on social media networks also, Twitter and Facebook mainly.

Another good reason is privacy. Perhaps the best reason.
I have had colleagues who wanted to add my on Facebook. This might be a little awkward if your personal  blog and Tweets are turning up there aswell. I made a very deliberate decisions to keep my Facebook page pretty much clear of non-friends. People I didn’t know somehow in RL usually dont survive long on my Facebook page.

I cannot be totally private of course. This very blog is public and will remain so. But its plugged into all kinds of places online. Cross posts to Twitter, imports into all kinds of other social media websites including Facebook, Hyves, etc.

I have though, decided to make the split between my personal life and my private life more defined.

My sysadmin blog, for now still hosted at geekswithblogs, will be re-launched under a new domain, and this time hosted my myself.

To go along with that, I have created a new Facebook profile, and a new Twitter account.

Together, these 3 places will be the core of my Professional and Geek/web2.0/Social media identity.
All my old stuff, which I now term my “personal” stuff, will remain, but I have started making some small changes. I have locked down my personal Facebook profile, the one listed on the sidebar of this site, and more or less brought down the privacy options to “friends only".  I have started removing my full name from several places, so that a Google search on my full name will, in time, not immediately turn up my personal content. There is no way to hide anything I posted over the years of course, and this blog will remain public. The idea is though, that through my professional life and related tech interests, the first place people will eventually run into, will be the professional content.

Twitter is a challenge right now. I would actually like to lock it down also, making it private “friends only”. However, several ways my Twitter feed is consumed by other online services, is rather dependant on it being public. I will have to investigate exactly what the impact will be if I make it private.

I don’t yet know how all of this will work in practice. The intended effect is that I feel more free to speak my mind at the places where it is appropriate, to an audience that is more appropriate. The other effect should be that I will be able to give professional contacts a better place to interact with me, confining them somewhat to my professional side. I know that on Twitter especially, I will have some cleaning and migrating to do.

I will, of course, let you know how this works out over time.

Starting work again

Monday, March 30th, 2009

On Wednesday I will start work again, first time in 3 months.
I will start at the "Nederlandsch Octrooi Bureau" as a senior Systems Administrator.

Established in 1888, Nederlandsch Octrooibureau is one of the larger agencies providing specialist advice in the field of intellectual property. The key members of staff are patent agents, trademark agents and lawyers, who act on behalf of clients in applying for, and obtaining, patent, trademark and design rights in The Netherlands and other countries.

They also advise on scope of protection, infringement, nullity, licenses, software protection and copyright. Clients include many Dutch, foreign and multinational organisations engaged in a wide variety of commercial activities and specialist fields. Nederlandsch Octrooibureau has offices in The Hague, Ede and Eindhoven and employs a staff of over 120.

I wont deny I am apprehensive. The last months I was at DHL I felt at the top of my game. I was the most knowledgeable person in the department. People came to me with all kinds of things, and I had my finger in just about everything. After a time on a job, you start to “fit” and you are kinda synced up. The requirements of job are what you know and are familiar with, and the job knows what to expect of you.

When you start somewhere new, you need to find that balance all over again. It makes me feel very unsure of myself. I start to remind myself of all the things I don’t know and all the experience I don’t have. I am embarrassed about some very basic stuff I either never knew or have forgotten. There are so many areas of knowledge I feel I should  know far more of, more areas than are probably realistic to expect of myself.

You would think I would have taken the last 3 months to improve myself in this way, to learn some things to get some study in.
Alas, my complete and utter lack of willpower has won. Combined with feeling overall very depressed and lethargic, I have done not much more than hung around and spent money on things I cant afford. Such things at least made me somewhat happy.

I am also worried about the job I am going into, its a lot smaller scale than I was previously in, and I know I prefer larger environments. I took the job not so much because I wanted to have this job specifically, but because I knew I desperately needed to get back into work, to keep myself sane and occupied. This job was one of several that came along that was interesting. I was rejected from the others so this one remained as the default. I could have waited longer, waited for something with a large company to come along, or datacenter work, I dunno.

As always, its not about the money, which is about the same as what I made for DHL. On the other hand, I see the job, as I see every new job, as an opportunity to learn new stuff, to grow, if I can remain enthusiastic. And that is the problem with my current state of mind. I have no enthusiasm right now, but I know that I may well in a few months time, once I am settling into the job and the routine. So its hard to have good perspective right now. The only thing I know is that I know myself, and a few months into the job, I should be in the “zone” for a while. Its at that time I want to start studying again. 

The plan for now is to stay in the job for as long as it is interesting, which is always the plan of course, and to get myself out of the various debts that I have once and for all. For now, that means staying here, living with my mother and sister for a time longer. I don’t mind that so much right now, though the first irritations are starting to creep up on me. Might come a point where the scales tip and place my financial situation against my wish for freedom and independence. We shall see, I am not there yet.

Another cause of sadness to me is that I will be partially losing the friends I have made online in the wowcast bindpoint chat. I even went as far to create a new WoW character on the US realm they all play on, just to spend some time playing with them. The obvious problem is the time difference, which I was able to overcome the last months by simply staying up and sleeping in. That wont be as easy anymore, and I am afraid I will loose a lot of the contact with them. They have been a good emotional support for me, and have been a bit of much needed company and solace in these weeks following my breakup with Lia, whom I still miss terribly.

I know that is going to be an issue too, when I do move out of here. I know the freedom comes with a price, that of loneliness. I don’t look back on the years before Lia with a lot of joy, they where incredibly empty years for me. A can’t but think a lot of that was wasted, but I knew I would not have been able to do otherwise. For now, I am going to take one day at a time and see where it leads. I have reminded myself that this is basically a reset for me. I have no restrictions really, no responsibilities, nothing holding me down except for the money, which, realistically, should be sorted in 6 months. I am gonna look back again at that time, probably a very different person, again.

nosce te ipsum