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On-line identities

July 22nd, 2009 · No Comments · Teaching & learning

Josie Fraser has outlined three different forms of identity individuals can have on-line in a recent post Personal – Professional – Organisational: three basic online identities. Josie acknowledges that these categories are somewhat provisional and the comments on the blog usefully develop aspects of the idea. It would be interesting, in the light of this distinction, to reflect on what sort of identity LeedsBloggers have. It would obviously differ from person to person. I think my blog here has elements of each of these identities. I sometimes post on things that directly relate to my work at Leeds but these often reflect, I hope, a broader professional interest too, in my views on education generally for instance and my engagement with the wider world of conferences and colleagues in other institutions. Then again, my posts on sailing with my brothers-in-law reveal some aspects of my personal life too. As it happens I do have a blog that is devoted entirely to sociological commentary but this, of course, can be discovered and aggregated with all my other publicly available activity and output. No blog is an island in this searchable and connected age. And where does Twitter fit into all this? I would say that most of the individuals I follow let me into aspects of all three of their on-line identities. I see aspects of their organisational (perhaps ‘institutional’ might be better here as it is rather more general), professional and personal lives – what they are doing at work, conferences and events they go to with observations, opinions on broad political and cultural topics and issues, what they are reading and listening to, and so on. Now and then there are references to family and friends, holidays and illnesses. Why do people do this? Well in my case I want to share and find relevant information for my work at Leeds and my wider professional interests. Dare I confess there is an aspect of professional self-promotion in this? And I am happy to connect with people as rounded humans and as a rounded human. Also I find my interactions with the Twitterverse fun. As Josie implies, there is much in most of our daily lives┬áthat sucks the fun out of things.

Of course, there are many other important aspects to investigating our various on-line identities implied here – privacy, security, reputation, citizenship for instance. Should we be ‘teaching’ this stuff?


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