The Fluffshack

Unraveling the world one sock at a time

Splitting my online identity in two: Private vs Professional

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 http://www.geekswithblogs.net/jemimus 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 The blogging software there is totally outdated and of course add-supported.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.

http://thefluffyadmin.net

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

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681541544
https://twitter.com/thefluffysysop

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.

March 30th, 2009 Posted by | Geek, Social Media | no comments