Friday, February 10, 2012

Online Presence: Public or Private?

Will Richardson in his article World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others talks about online collaboration. At one point he says,

"Likewise, we must make sure others can locate and vet us. The process of collaboration begins with our willingness to share our work and our passions publicly."


This brings up the notion of privacy online. Once I finally decided I was willing to part with my money in order to participate in COETAIL I was eager to get started. As soon as the video posted, showing us how to get 'in' to the COETAIL community, I was revving to go. And then I stalled out as we had to choose our username and blog URL and won't be able to change them.

How public or private did I want to be? I pondered and stewed and then sent Jeff Utecht an email.

Hi Jeff,

Here is the discussion I want to have: How much privacy should one keep with their digital footprint? The place I would love to have it would be within the cohort, but I can't get there until I choose a username and then I have made a decision one way or another. I read the first few chapters of Reach to see if you shared any insights, but since you didn't you are getting an email.

Until now we have taken the stance that private is always better. I have Googled myself and I know you can find out all kinds of things, including who my husband is. If you then Google him you can figure out what school I am at. (He is an administrator and you can't really keep that off the web.) I never use his or my daughter's names when I blog. I am also careful to never put up security risk type information.

Capture_Google logo

I am ready to ponder a more open username for public use. I started looking at the blogs I follow to see if they use their full names and most do. I understand the benefit of future employers being able to find my thoughts, etc.

Has there been a shift from 'keep everything as private as possible' to 'sharing ideas under your true identity is a good thing, just don't give them your S.S.#'?

That is the gist of my ponderings. Any thoughts?


Thankfully he wrote right back…

Great Question Kristi!

We'll continue to talk about this throughout the program.

Has there been a shift? sad as it might seem...there is no longer such thing as privacy. There hasn't been for awhile....we just pretend there is.

He then pointed me toward a blog that quotes an article called "Nine things that will disappear in our lifetime". Jeff prefaced my read by saying,

Privacy is one of them...and I would argue it's already gone.

The article has privacy as number nine on the list.

"If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone! There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits."

small_3730176936_Google Street View

If people want to know where we are at any given point 'they' have the ability to find out. (And actually have for more than 20 years.) Even the 'average' person can discover quite a bit with refined online search skills. Perhaps the shift for us 'normal' people is taking this idea by the virtual horns and owning it rather than pretending it isn't so.

So if privacy is gone or is going away then we need to learn to live in public. Which means you take control of your profile on the Internet by putting your stuff out there full name and all and as sad as it sounds almost "promoting yourself" but not in the "I'm cool" kind of way. More of the "I'm here", kind of way. (Note: This idea is further flushed out in Reach, Chapter Two under Growing Your Professional Network.)

Now as a've been public for a long time anyway. You are a public person...not in Hollywood public but in the sense that you interact with a lot of people. Kids, parents, community and because of that I feel teachers are at a bigger risk then many others about being "slammed" on the Internet. The last thing you want is the community controlling your profile.

So....jump in with both feet! Get your name out there, build your profile. After all if you're not in Google do you even really exist? :)


That last bit really got me thinking. (No, not the do you really exist part, before that.)

"I feel teachers are at a bigger risk then many others about being "slammed" on the Internet. The last thing you want is the community controlling your profile. "

Below is a great infographic from kbsd. The bottom of the graphic addresses strategies to keep your 'e-reputation' under control. The first point is to take charge and set it yourself.

So it is no longer simply about a great defense, but the game has been changed to require full coverage offense as well. I think that is the winning argument for me. It is still going to take time for me to completely come out from behind my usernames and pseudonyms, but I have been convinced it will be for the best.


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