Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Name Game

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." -William Shakespeare

One of the quandaries facing a beginning blogger is how much personal information to reveal. Striking a balance between safeguarding privacy and establishing an online presence requires making a series of choices: avatar or photo; screen name or real life name; vague or specific locations for home and career.

In my own case, I've moved from an avatar

to a photo

My name has expanded from "diane" to "dmcordell" and "Diane Cordell." Although I usually list my location as "upstate New York," I occasionally mention my home town or the school district where I teach. I'm most protective of family members, and use their images sparingly.

Many of my online friends are experiencing a similar evolution, especially on Twitter. With familiarity and trust comes the desire to reveal a true image, mimicking the revelation of personality, philosophy, and character.

And as bloggers establish a presence, they increasingly desire to claim their Voice. Online, as in Real Life, reputations are important.

Because of the content of their postings, some bloggers choose anonymity. A school employee like Taylor the Teacher could well lose her job over a posting like "No Blogs Allowed!" Comments like "District installed new Internet filter today because the other one was too much like we lived in a democracy" and "Apparently kids aren’t allowed to see advertisements, either. This is okay since nobody sees ads in real life America. Unless, of course, they are military ads plastered all over the school. Heil!" are not encouraged in the public school arena.

In her own words
"The Annoyed Librarian is possibly the most successful, respected, and desirable librarian of her generation. She has no other interest than to bring her wit and wisdom to the huddled librarian masses yearning to breathe free. The Annoyed Librarian is a free spirit and you are lucky to have her."
By being No One, she (or could it be he?) is Everyone.

Today, a student blogger stepped out of the shadows. Welcome, Kaelie! It's fitting that you drop the "Curbxstomp" persona as you thank Taylor the Teacher for being your real life mentor. Perhaps some day soon she will be able to join you in the sunlight.

"A name is the blueprint of the thing we call character. You ask, What's in a name? I answer, Just about everything you do." -Morris Mandel

"HELLO, my name is..." by thost


Anonymous said...

Great post. This topic seems to be coming up a lot these days. I just want to say that I am Jabiz Raisdana aka the intrepidteacher and I am currently living in Doha.

Curious to see where this idea of web openness will take us all.

Anonymous said...

I decided right up front that I would use my real name and image, however, I have always kept my kids' & my husband's names private. I think it's fine for me to choose to share my own name, but not for me to take that choice away from others. I do think though, that using your real name is fundamental when building an online reputation, and that by choosing to share it you automatically makes yourself accountable for the integrity of all your online content, which I'm not convinced is necessarily a bad thing. However, I do absolutely defend the right to anonymity, particularly when it is exercised by those who would otherwise be silenced. I'm not that keen when it's used as a screen to hide behind while slinging insults and negativity though.
You've clearly got me thinking!

Anonymous said...

I'm liking the sunlight, I have to say. It's easier for me. Now that I'm Kaelie, I can get away from Curbxstomp without being too attached. Kaelie as my identity will allow my blog to grow with me instead of being confined to a high school codename. I, too, hope that Taylor will be able to come out into the sunlight. We're both pale. :D

Sarah Stewart said...

I had a long hard think about this and decided to use my name as my brand' This is mostly as a strategy for marketing myself in my professional context. But... it does mean that I feel that I cannot relax and do anything stupid under my name because of this image I am trying to generate. I started out not publishing names and photos of my family but I have even relaxed on that now. They are so integrated into my life that I find it hard not to include them in my blogging and so on. But they are grown ups and have their own FB/bebo accounts so I don't worry about them.

diane said...

You certainly have had experience with the potential downside of maintaining an online presence. In a world where the definition of "appropriate" is wide open, it's difficult to exercise personal freedom while remaining professionally correct.

Amy and Sarah,
I'm evolving just as you are.

Use your new freedom carefully and remember that online is forever.