While the heated debate about CILIP’s latest highway robbery continues below, I’ve been thinking about something else. Identity. It helps that I’ve been reading a lot of Philip K Dick of late – since his work is all about identity, memory and self. Not to mention very readable.
Identity is a hot topic out here in Web 2.0 cloud computing social networking land. Indeed you’ll quite often see a comment from some dismisser of the whole social web environment that people who hide behind aliases have opinions that are in some way of lesser value than those who have a readily provided soap box funded by others. No wait, hang on – I wasn’t going to talk about CILIP this time.
I use an alias for most of my online interactions in the social web space, but as a gamer the idea of an online or even RL handle is as natural in breathing. If you’re any kind of librarian it should take you all of 5 seconds to work out what my birth name is, I just prefer to use the handle since this online incarnation of me – heck it’s not what I’m actually like in real life.
I talk quicker than I type for one!
But what I have been thinking about is the whole “Should I have one ID for work social net and one for real life?”. I know some folks who, and let’s take twitter here as the media darling example here, have two twitter accounts. One for their friends and one for sunday best. I can see why some might go down that route, and thanks to good software like tweetdeck or twhirl maintaining multiple IDs isn’t a big problem. I started off down this route with my llordllama ID as very much work with a bit of social, and another account for play. Quickly I realised it helped my interactions and debate with other Web 2.0 types if I just used the same account for both.
Why? Well for one because life is analogue not digital; it’s shades of grey – there’s no clear dividing line where my work social networking interaction ends and my real-lifebegins. They are all part and parcel of the same wacky crazy/vibrant and thrilling world we live in. Because services like twitter and blogs exist out here in the cloud as well, there’s a certain level of dissociation from the workaday entity who sits in an office all day pushing digital packets around and occasionally organising a meeting (if you’ll ‘scuse the sarcasm). This means the worries I’ve heard from some senior staff (and I include people I work with here) that somehow someone will take what I say as the Llaird of all Llamas as the official position of my organisation.
No really? Is anyone that stupid? Well outside of politics where anything you say any time seems to be fair game to be twisted and used against you I couldn’t and wouldn’t say that’s true. I’ve spared online with academics I know, on a friendly but forthright level. Would I be like this face to face with them in a departmental meeting? Hell no, because that’s a different environment and calls for a different level of engagement. In a sense I’m a different identity there.
And for me, as I said wearing different identities is fine. Work is a role I play just as much as the rest of my life. But what the social web lets me do is build up what one of my friends would call “my personal brand identity” – that is Llordllama plc if you will; the professional and social entity, the core of my intellectual and emotional being. It allows me to bear (or weasel) my true self to the world and engage in far more honest debates than those I might have within the confines of the mundane world.
And it’s not quite the same as my work face, it’s not the same identity and so it needs a name all of its own. Hi I’m llordllama, nice to meet you – mine’s a pint of positrons…