The Digital Identity discussion fascinated me because, between message boards, blogs, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., I have had an online existence for at least twenty years. Honestly, there have been times in my life when my online existence was better than my “real world” one. As a result, I wondered how the people running the seminar would approach the topic in an Academic context.
The folks running the seminar had us all google ourselves. In my case, the first two results were for an artist from California. The third was for a blank page on CUNY Commons that I started when I was in a Center for Teaching and Learning seminar at my college.
I was surprised. I have presented at many conferences, most of which have published their programs online, so I figured maybe they would be there. Not on the first page, they weren’t.
This is… not optimal. Clearly, I have to work on my professional digital identity. However, I’d prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate, so I have to make some choices: do I establish a separate, professional Facebook, profile, for example? Or is it enough that I have a LinkedIn and a Twitter that I don’t use for personal stuff? Does this mean I’ll have to actually USE Twitter? (I’m not Twitter’s biggest fan: I’m just too wordy for it and I know people who have been harassed by the Trolls that Twitter refuses to do anything about.)
Fortunately, part of this Identity Crisis can be solved with WordPress and CUNY Commons. The second part of this seminar was an introduction to WordPress: how to set up a page, and the various things that can be done to personalize it (using templates, adding menus) and upload information, to build a professional website.
I can upload my CV there. That would be a start. Though, again, as the people running the seminar pointed out, it makes sense to upload a CV (as a pdf file) and then break it down, into categories like “conferences and publications”, “courses taught”, and “Academic Service”. I could also, if I wanted to, do blog entries there. I can also link to other sites I use professionally (my professional organizations or my LinkedIn, for example).
Downside? WordPress has a bit of a learning curve. It takes time to figure out. The seminar gave me a start: I can navigate through the basics of putting a WordPress site together, but to fully build it will take me some time. If they offer this workshop again, I think you should consider attending for the advice but especially for the basics of WordPress. It’s not (for me, anyway) very intuitive.
Overall, this was a great seminar. We need to have some control over our online identity, and building your own Academic website on CUNY Commons (which is powered by WordPress) can help with that.