Add your comments and discuss the material in this chapter here!
Today’s session was extremely informative, and it was especially rewarding to hear fellow grad students talk about their blogging experiences. Though the point is not to reel off lists of useful sites or materials, perhaps making such a list available as a handout for those interested would be ideal?
There are many tools here for receiving information — and comparatively few for saving and organizing it. Suppose one follows blogs, has an RSS reader, subscribes to listservs, and so on and so forth. Items disappear from Google Reader as soon as they’re read. I’d be curious to hear some ways people preserve scraps of value, that may save them from having to do archival searches on individual blog sites, listservs, or their own e-mail accounts later on. Do people have centralized ways of aggregating “favorite fragments” (blog posts, mailing list posts that might be worth referring back to, etc.)? Is the best way just to brush up your old-fashioned note-taking?
While issues of outright plagiarism may be countered by online “time stamps” as was discussed in class yesterday, any new medium of information for which laws have yet to be completely crystallized will create challenges and risks for its users. It seems to me that issues of copyright law, which has not yet been fully acclimated to the online world, will pose some of the most serious questions for scholars maintaining an online presence. I wonder: what (if anything) can we as scholars do to guide Intellectual Property Law development in a way that will best fit our needs, and how can we adapt our own online identity and material to ensure that it is used fairly? I would also like to know a little more about what specific issues we as scholars face in this area.
As I commented earlier on in this chapter – under “virtual you”- it is really interesting to watch the emergence and development of various networking methods. However, my inner critic makes me not only want to acknowledge these sources, but be wary of them as well. We have seen several instances where networking sites actually handicap users. How then, beyond the obvious ways, can users work to only have their positive aspects shown. Furthermore, especially with the emergence of blogs and tweets, how much control do individuals really have over the information that is publicly released? In an extreme example, what if they don’t want the general public – but maybe only employers – to know about their education status? Some may fear that releasing this information could suggest possibilities about their level of income and so forth – information they may want to keep private. However, a Google search could reveal their name under a University’s association, something they would have no control over. When you search your name on other sites, such as Spokeo, a lot of personal information – such as your house price, relationship status, etc – is released, and even more if you are willing to pay the $2.99. From personal experience, these sites are often wrong (according to Spokeo I am 50 year olds and married with one child…) and thus do not properly portray the “virtual you”. What then? How would others know what information is correct and which isn’t?
In response, from the last workshop, it seems one benefit of establishing an “online identity” is that you can control—at least in part—misinformation and misattributions that might be floating out there on the web. But I’m still not sure how much to disclose in one’s online identity. One of the bloggers from the last session doesn’t mention her Stanford affiliation on her blog, for instance, while the other does. How personal should the “virtual you” be?
I was intrigued by the burden of maintaining a digitally created self that various student bloggers described. Solutions seemed to range from letting the blog peter out (and perhaps creating a fresh, new online identity), to posting less frequently, to damning inconsistency and letting one’s blog change along with one’s [real? offline?] self. As scholars, what is our responsibility to the digital selves we create?
Cameron’s lecture and the panel were very helpful. I agree that google results generate most first impressions for people you haven’t met, but I also think they fill out more lasting impressions of people you have met, talked to briefly, and want to know more about. It is a bit disconcerting that you have no control over many of the google results displayed. Even following the helpful steps outlined in the above articles–creating a personal webpage, academic.edu, blog posts–does not prevent other people from writing and posting in an effort to shape your identity for better or worse. For those committed to anonymity, “keeping off the grid,” is impossible if someone is inclined otherwise.
Along the lines of further reading, danah boyd (http://www.zephoria.org) is an academic whose website successfully does many of the things suggested for maintaining an scholarly profile online, and is also about social media itself. While her blog and research is often focused on the youth experience of social media, her work is very relevant in larger debates about public/private divides and how identity works online.
I’m also fascinated by one’s presence on Google and trying to control it as much as possible. One thing that I don’t believe was mentioned during class but still seems important is the presence of “junk” in Google results when searching for someone. When a Google search comes up with a lot of white pages kind of results, I think there’s a subtle discrediting of the person in question, at least in regard to his or her online persona. Rather than having substantive material about him or her, the search only finds phone number and address records–indicating digital irrelevance.
@Erik Johnson: To flesh out a point I think the panelists may have alluded to, Twitter is a good way to “preserve scraps of value,” in your words. When I find something interesting and link to it on Twitter, I’m doing it as much for myself as I am for other readers. And over time, I’ve built a long list of interesting reads in the order I found them, couched in the context of what my friends and I were talking about at the time, what was going on in the news, and so on.
Another good practice, I’ve found, is to stop and think about what I really want to do with an online “scrap of value.” That exercise usually answers the question of how to preserve it. Is it worth sharing publicly? Twitter. Is it something to discuss with a friend? Send it directly to him or her. Is it a story idea (I’m a journalist)? Send it to myself or, better yet, pick up the phone. Or do I really need to save it at all?
As a final point, although searching through one’s past emails can be tedious, we ought to remember what powerful search tools are at our fingertips. They’re only getting better, I think.
One thing that occurred to me as I was listening to the lecture a couple weeks ago (sorry for the delayed comment) was that there was a lot of talk about the benefits of an online identity to us personally, but I did wonder, especially with regard to blogs, about whether the university (or our departments) might have something to say about all of this. Obviously one should not air dirty department laundry in an open blog post, but when it comes to, say, a collective academic blog by a group of Stanford grad students, would the university or their department have any reason to be for or against it? I do support this sort of thing in general – the reason I’m concerned is that some of the people in my cohort have been thinking about starting a group teaching blog to share resources – but it seems like it might be a risky venture in some ways.
I totally appreciate the talk last week. Yet I still have doubts upon how much our online identity really would make a difference at the critical junctures of our career life, say, for job hunting and interview. I am still not sure whether our investment on setting up and maintaining an online profile is proportionate to its effect. I found myself wasting a lot of time on facebook, twitter and academic.edu cooking up a self that is not so much the real me even in academic sense. I think we need to have some reflection upon the risk of excessive self-promotion. Setting aside the ethical concern which is not at the heart of this workshop, even on a practical level, online profile is sometimes depreciated exactly due to this reason. But I greatly enjoy the idea of keeping a joint blog with one’s cohort and would love to hear more about something like how to run the arcade Stanford.
It was very helpful and informative to learn about all the different possibilities to position oneself in the public realm of academia. I do think that we as young scholars need to create these online profiles, but I am also concerned that one can loose a lot of time with these things. Doing this kind of ‘public relation’ can be quite distracting and it can push aside the ‘real’ work. At least I see this danger and I guess it is hard to find a good balance.
I would also like to know more about the Arcades project and about ways in which young scholars might be able to take actively part in this interesting project.