Hiding Out From Online Friends

January 31, 2007

I have been reading (with great interest) the blog posts from the Five Weeks to a Social Library online course currently taking place. One of the participants, Alisia Wygant wrote a very interesting post this week called Work Social Life. In the post, she discusses the problem of having created an identity in Facebook while in college that may not really be the type of presence one would want in a professional capacity. Do those friends from college really belong in one’s professional network? Alisia cancelled her Facebook account, but ponders what would happen if she hadn’t: “. . . would I be forced to live an online double identity–ducking into virtual telephone booths and putting on my uniform?” This image of having to hide behind virtual walls when one has one virtual hat on in order to remain hidden from inappropriate friends in rather comical. Steve Lawson from See Also points out that “With blogs, it is easy enough to have more than one, and keep the siliness on LiveJournal or Vox or whatever, but a site like Facebook seems like it might be more problematic to maintain multiple personalities.” I have to agree.

I find it extremely difficult to maintain all of my online identities, accounts, spaces, etc. I have at least 6 email addresses. Although I don’t use them all, I do actively use 4 – and trying to remember which one I use for which purpose is maddening. I hate creating new accounts or logins – and have very mixed feelings about having signed up for Facebook. Keeping track of online relationships and/or friends must be even more difficult – especially if one has to compartmentalize. I’m not really the type to post material online that I would need to “hide” from people, but then again, I’m fairly new to all of this online identity stuff. I won’t really post anything that I am not comfortable with everyone I know seeing. However, I can see how this could get complicated and even messy for some.

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Toward a Brave New World

January 31, 2007

Rebecca Hedreen, the Distance Education Librarian, at the Buley Library at Southern Connecticut State University left a comment on my Some Thoughts on Online Education at the Halfway Point post. In the comment, Rebecca was responding to my points that SCSU doesn’t really have any online communities for its distance students (along with making some other very salient points). At the end of her comment, she expressed some interest in working with me if I wanted to try to create some type of online group. We discussed the issue a bit more via email, and Rebecca made some suggestions for creating an online community using Facebook, Yahoo Groups or groups within the student portal system at SCSU – MySCSU. Rebecca and I had briefly discussed this same subject back in early September 2005 when I had emailed her about some of my concerns. I will say that I thought quite a bit about this back in early fall – but work, school and life took all of my energies.

Ultimately, this seems like a good time to try to put something together. I’m not entirely sure how successful it will be. Part of me really thinks that online communities created on commercial sites could be very useful, but I really believe that the school needs some sort of official place for distance students. I definintely see a need for a place that distance student can ask questions, find out about the school and get official information that is pertinent to distance education. But, one has to start somewhere. So, I created a Facebook account last night. Rebecca mentioned that she knew many students already had accounts so this might be a good place to create an environment. I don’t have much there other than my SCSU email address and some vague mention that my graduation date is 2012 (which I think is when I have to be done – I’m hoping to be done by the end of 2008). My plan at this point is to just play around with different sites to see what they offer. Fortunately, I invited Rebecca to be my friend, and she accepted (I find this to be such an odd concept). It seems that one can’t really test out some of these social software sites unless they participate in them. This can be difficult for those like me who may be inherently unsocial. Of course, I have 9 million other things to do, but feel compelled to make an effort to effect some type of positive change. Here’s hoping!!