Saturday, June 21, 2008

Questions of Identity

It seems like every time I post a "I'm so ashamed of myself for being such a blog slacker" post, I get a comment that's food for more posts.

Thanks Janet. (I think).

Are you posting under your real name, pen name, anonymously? Just wondering because I'm dipping my two in some other things too in my spare time (another reason I probably don't want to return to school).

FYI - I'm posting the perfume blog/database under a pen name - Sakecat (also my handle on Basenotes, if you want to know). The food thing will probably also be under that pen name as well, though I haven't quite decided yet. That will be a matter of discussion between me and the food site administrators.

Why did I do that?

It was an attempt to separate (somewhat) my professional self and my hobby self.

You folks (active members of my professional circle) know how to find me using my real name. So would potential employers and other professional contacts. Of course, my in-person friends also find me here are are dismayed at how I can blather on about educational stuff. So most of them don't read this.

Members of the hobby community I play in know me as Sakecat. Using pen names / handles is an expected part of participation in the community. As a result, they have an easier time finding me by my handle than by my real name, even though many of them know my real name and a few have even ventured over to this blog. There are a shocking number of educators lurking there.

And there is always that blurry line between the professional and the personal.

I'm not entirely sure that one can be truly anonymous on the Web. With enough effort (and it may not take all that much), you can figure out who is who. Besides, I have always been of the mind that if you are doing something you are ashamed of in a public forum (like the Internet), serves you right if your cover is blown and you suffer consequences (like lack of employment) for your actions.

Thankfully, I'm a pretty dull person.

I know you all are creative types - so this is a good opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

Are there other creative online outlets you participate in (besides the Edublogosphere)? Are you using your real name or a pen name and why?


Anonymous said...

Online identity is a complex topic. Not using your "real life" identity suggests fear of something, perhaps a sense of hiding something, or even misrepresentation. But I think there's something else - the Google factor. For me, using a different identity (first name only/nickname/hobby-related name) means I can keep separate the inner gardener or cook or whatever and stay off the Google radar. I'm not writing anything I wouldn't say out loud or posing as someone I'm not, I'm just keeping the business side of my online identity 'unfragmented.' Right now, I don't need anyone to find Janet the gardener.

What has been hard though is the ubiquitousness of Google. I have two accounts - one is my work life and one is hobby-related and they keep overlapping unintentionally. I'll be in my work reader and all of a sudden I see house blogs listed. Ticks me off. Must be a glitch. I like to set aside time to do my personal reading (much like I wouldn't read BH&G at my desk at work).

So, my friends at work will know I like gardening or whatever but I don't need the CEO to look up my name and say, do I want Janet in training or Janet, the one who reads BH&G? More than ever, Google is your online identity tracker. By using a different identifier, I'm opting out of searchability - the default.

Wendy said...

Very true. It is very much about the searchability factor and how you want your audience to find you and which part of you.

Especially since it is progressively more difficult to keep one's business identity separate from everything else.

So one audience searches for me under one name. Another audience (the professional one) can find me under my real name.

Future social historians will have a field day with all of this, I suspect.

BTW - I separated my google reader into 2 folders, personal and professional. And I am pretty good about putting the various subscriptions in their folder. I may narrow the categories down further at some point. Haven't run into migrating subscriptions yet.

Any recategorization will happen about the time when I rename all of my professional blog subscriptions using everyone's name (as Mark O suggested). It may be awhile since I am lazy ;' )

Unknown said...

I blog under my own name. I am also a member of various forums, where I may use pseudonyms. On YouTube, I use a pen name, in an attempt to keep the vitriole and cyber-abuse that gets spewed there away from my professional circle.

I also use a pseudonym on sites where I don't want random searchers looking for my professional material and stumbling across my discussions about my sporting injuries, my dietary habits and such like.

I feel the need to be associated with my professional/academic work. I reckon it adds credibility that I am prepared to attach my name to my stance. On the other hand, where my real identity is of little consequence and may in fact result in spillage that could hurt me professionally, well, then I feel no such obligation.

I will be referencing several blogs in my dissertation, but I have avoided those which can't be reliably referenced (with one notable exception).