I’ve talked, almost incessantly, over the years how keeping an online journal has influenced my life professionally and personally. 1 And yet despite the fact at how times (and technologies) have changed in the last decade, I still get amazed when my own interests often parlay into new opportunities for myself.
For example, recently I’ve become the go-to girl for WordPress based stuff. Several librarians at the academic library I work at have started using WP for professional and personal blogs, and I just happened to have been around when one of them whipped open the WP dashboard to their site. I said something like, “Oh, hey, you’re using WP!” and conversation stemmed from there of me giving tech-tips and know-how on how to use WP, how to integrate widgets and all that brouhaha.
Several weeks later in my digital imaging class, the museum my class will be working with wants to use WP for digital curation of our project — the catch is, the museum is just getting their feet wet on how to use WP and guess who is the only person who knows how to use WP in this scenario? You’ve guessed it — me!2 Because my WP dashboard is loaded to the gills with tweaks, gadgets and widgets, I showed them lib schooled. (and obvs. the dashboard) to explain some of the more robust features of WP and walk them through how things are done and what they can do with WP.
There are, almost literally, no limitations for what WP is capable of and I sing its praises loudly. But the one thing I thought was interesting about myself while I was showing colleagues and supervisors on the functionality of WP via my own site, is that it it dawned on me that I was ushering them into a vaguely private world where even a Google search for me will not bring up this site. I never meant to be completely anonymous with lib schooled. or even private, the content here was to be about my foray into obtaining my MLIS degree and boy howdy, some of the drafts in progress (like “Men I’ll never, ever date.”) having NOTHING to do with librarianship in the slightest.
Did I really feel comfortable showing this this data? Did they need to know that I have/had people calling me “god” for a variety of reasons for some time? That I have a fondness for Guinness, James Bond and Jane Austen? That I like to say “fuck” a lot? Is that information relevant?
On one hand, my line of thinking is clearly ridiculous. Since that ill fated day in 1995 when I discovered “the internet,” I’ve been obnoxiously postulating myself online in a variety of ways ranging from writing about my sex life, detailing very private information about myself to posting images of my tattoos and piercings3. I have left a virtual breadcrumb trail4 of who or what I am all over the internet — it’s almost like you can’t trip without finding me attached to something, somewhere.
So why was I suddenly being Ms. Coy, 2009 about showcasing my blog, let alone a blog about library school? I’d like to blame Google, but that’s the easy way out. I’d like to think that as I’ve gotten older that I’ve become slightly more sophisticated and mature about my online dealings. As I near the end of this long, hard journey of schooling (I’ve been in classes since January of 2003, have completed two degrees and am working on my third), I know that my online presence is going is going to be more scrutinized now more than ever by future employers.
In the the book Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences, Bowker and Star discuss using (at the time of their writing) AltaVista for researching candidates from their application pool and questioning themselves about the moral and ethical ramifications of their actions. They deemed it like snooping in the host’s medicine cabinet while at a party — you shouldn’t do it, but yet you do it anyway because the curiosity is killing you and now you have information about your host (they, perhaps, like to use KY personal warming lubricant and Preparation H (but not at the same time)) that makes the urge to snoop almost impossible to resist.
So even, ethically and morally, having your future employer search for you online– this is not to say it hasn’t nor will it be done, you can almost guarantee yourself that somewhere, out there, grunts are doing research on your application while you wait for that call back for the desperately wanted interview.
The world has become so tech savvy that we are almost heading back to the era of chisels and stones. Bowker and Star are not the first ones to discuss snooping online nor the ramifications of your employer finding out about your online activities and squashing them, ala dooce who got canned from her job in 2002.
In the late ’90s, the idea of an employer Googling (before Googling was even a household name let alone a verb) was not necessarily an uncommon thing, as written by demonika in the ‘zine F.U.C.K.5 Her entry is poignant — and speaks volumes. And it’s now been a decade, when are we going to realize that flashing our boobs on a camera phone is not necessarily a good thing?
Google searches for me bring up varied results depending if you use my middle initial or not. But what is telling is that you get scads of information that is slightly different enough and old enough that may not be applicable to whatever it is you are looking for about me. If you search for academichussy, you get a bit more about me way more current and even more so if you do a search for pnkrcklibrarian, which has become my new nom de plume to reflect my new obsession, you find almost up to the minute stuff. There are still people who search for me as modgirl AND lisa because they remember that at one time I owned the domain modgirl.net (which I still do indeed own and use). So what does this mean? What you find about me varies depending on what you currently know of me, how you search for it and figure out if it is relevant regardless of how dated it is.
You also have to take into consideration that you’re only getting a small percentage of the picture of who I am, what interests me in 1995 and 1996 (J.D. Salinger, IRC, R.E.M.) is different from 2002 (Aphex Twin, Tivo, Laurell K. Hamilton) which is completely different than 2009 (Elbow, Wii, Kate Atkinson). The bottom line? Employers who use data derived from interent searching are screwing with the possiblity that what they see is not necessarily all that what they get. It’s almost impossible to not be integrated somehow online without showcasing personality aspects of yourself that may not be deemed professional or appropriate. There are people, like my boyfriend, who reject social networking and web 2.0 like there is no tomorrow. Overall, I think making an employment decision based on what one finds on the internet is morally and ethically wrong — and also i think that making a personality call on someone based on what you find out on the internet is also morally wrong.
- This is going to be more than likely bite me in the ass.
- I am a hypocrite.
- I don’t give a fuck.
1.If you’re interested in how my journaling has changed over the years, the Wayback machine has archives for simunye.org [From 1998 – 2000] and modgirl.net [From 2000 – 2005]. The entire archive should be up soon (I’ve been saying that for years) at modgirl.net. WP now has the functionality to import my LiveJournal [From 2002 – present-ish.]entries into WP, which I’d love to do on modgirl.net instead of freakin’ doing everything by hand.
2. I’m now working on a special project for this class on how to incorporate WP and other open source software into a workable, searchable archives; with the catch being geared towards small museums/libraries (primarily, where the archival/tech staff consists of 1-2 people).
3. Which seems innocent enough until you learn that some of those images are not exactly work-safe. Employers tend to frown when you’re perusing pictures of pierced nipples.
4. Amazon.com WishList | de.licio.us: modgirl | Facebook | flickr: modgirl | Goodreads | last.fm: modgirl | LibraryThing: academichussy | LiveJournal: academichussy | MySpace: modgeekgirl | Pandora: academichussy | ravelry: academichussy | /.: simunye | Twitter: pnkrcklibrarian | WiiNumber: 6103 8766 7240 5040
5. I also wrote for F.U.C.K. during the late ’90s and you can find my articles there as simunye or at modgirl.net.