First of all, here are my Google search results (searching for my real name, which is not very common in the UK). On the first page of results were:
- A Facebook page (not mine)
- A Mention of me on Tim Coates’ blog. (I’d mentioned his blog in an article I wrote for CILIP Update.)
- Someone on Twitter who isn’t me (I don’t use my real name on Twitter).
- Various other people who aren’t me.
I don’t use my real name anywhere online apart from on Facebook, and even this doesn’t come up on the first page of a Google search (this is a good thing, in my opinion). The main reason I don’t use my real name on my blogs and on Twitter is because I don’t really want any of my line managers or all of my colleagues to be able to read what I write online. This blog should be fine, because I set it up for professional purposes and have made sure (I hope) that I have never written anything on here that I wouldn’t want my line manager to read. However, I occasionally use my personal blog as an outlet for my feelings, and there are things on there I want to keep anonymous.
I do try and use the same nickname across different sites, although now I’ve started thinking about it there are places where I’d probably need to change it if I wanted to make my online presence more consistent.
I don’t use any photographs of me online, apart from on Facebook. I don’t particularly want people to see what I look like, partly because I don’t always want to be identified online (see above) and partly because I don’t like looking at myself and I’m not photogenic at all so I don’t really want anyone else looking at me either.
Again, I should probably try and make my avatars more consistent across sites.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I prefer to keep my professional and personal identity separate. To be honest, I’m not good at being professional at the best of times, and I’m not particularly brilliant at social interaction so I think any cross-over of my personal identity into my professional life (online) would only damage my professional-ness, such as it is. I’m particularly wary of doing this because of the lack of control I would have over who can see what I post online! I wouldn’t really want potential future employers or current managers to read some of what I’ve posted in my personal blog in the past.
As I’ve said, I could be more conistent about things like avatars. I’ve used the same template on this blog and my personal blog, in some effort towards a visual brand having read the post on the CPD 23 blog and I do spend quite a lot of time fiddling with templates and things, but this is more because I like things to look nice than any attempt at (conscious) visual branding!
In conclusion, I can see the logic of having consistency across sites and the sense in being careful about what you put online. However, I still don’t really feel comfortable with the concept of branding myself. Now I’ve started thinking about it, there’s probably a lot more I could write about my online identity/ies, but I might save that for another post as it’s probably more to do with self-analysis of my psychological make-up than CPD!