An Identity crisis – of sorts

So now that I am blogging as an individual rather than part of my work I have had to rethink my identity on the Web.  Blogging has been part of my professional identity for almost four years.  As I move into a different role with a new look organisation, the likelihood that I will be blogging ‘professionally’ as ‘me’ is pretty remote.  However, as an individual I still have things I’d like to say about the use of technology in educational settings. 

What has become obvious is that I need to separate my ‘professional self’ from my ‘personal self’ – something that as I dig into it is becoming pretty difficult.  Many of the people that do know me or connect with me in some way on the Web know me through my role in the company where I have worked for some years.  Additionally, as an early adopter of many social networking services, most of the people in those networks that I have connected with have been professional or work relationships rather than personal ones.  Many of my personal friends and family joined these networks much later.

Very early on I was interested in trialling different social networks and obviously the best way you can do that is by connecting with others – most of whom at the time were early adopters and largely known to me through work. Once my personal friends came along I needed to decide whether to have a personal identity and a professional identity or just combine them into one.  Since our personal and professional lives are so intermingled it made sense just to have the one identity. 

That was then.  Now however I am faced with quite a different set of circumstances.  Disentangling the mess that is my Web identity is turning out to be very difficult.  Moving my work blog to a new environment, not associated with work sounds easy enough.  An RSS export migrated all the posts but was not able to migrate the comments and categories.  Additionally, my old blog used to have good ‘Google juice’ but now all that’s gone and I am starting from scratch.  Anyone who subscribed to the old blog probably won’t know that I have moved.

Now since I really am separating the personal from the professional me, a really tricky challenge is of course Twitter.  My Twitter friends include professional and personal relationships, professional ones that have become personal and others that I just don’t even know how to categorise.  Should I create a personal Twitter identity and a professional one? How do I split my friends up?  Having the freedom to blog independently has also given me the desire to tweet more independently than I have before.  Luckily for me Twitter seems to have solved my dilemna by continually failling when I try to change my username.

My work demands (quite rightly) a level of professionalsim and personal values that is not always shared by people I know outside work.  Some of my friends work in completely different areas, have quite different social and cultural backgrounds and think quite differently to my colleagues at work.  This is a good thing – imagine a world without diversity.  How boring that would be.  However, that can make me a source of well, amusement at best to some of my friends who share the some of the same social networks as my work colleagues – they see me as a hopeless geek if I talk technology as that’s not important to them at all and they never talk work in their social networking rants.  Equally, if I respond in the same vein as my personal friends, I may be appearing on some professional friends ‘feeds’ blurting out something out of context for them.

So, this change in roles at work has forced upon me a rethink of my digital identity.  It will be interesting to see how it evolves.

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