October 24, 2008

Am I Two-Faced? Are You?

Pondering how and whether to integrate or fragment my two selves. As I participate more and more in online social media and networking spaces, I find myself faced with difficult choices. I have so many personas:

  1. Librarian
  2. Information architect / taxonomist / metadata queen
  3. Curator of content at the Resource Center
  4. Promoter of social media to nonprofits
  5. Social media enthusiast
  6. Mom / family member / social being

Some of these could be combined without too much fuss. It wouldn't be horribly jarring for librarians to read about my IA (information architecture) interests, though it might bore the IA community to read about my library stuff. So, OK, combine 1) and 2).

It could make sense to combine my overall resources for community service programs and nonprofits with my specific resources for them about using social media. So, OK, combine 3) and 4).

5 is problematic. Although some do, most of my nonprofit peeps don't want to hear about every little development on friendfeed, or learn about 27 brand new lifestreaming startups. Ditto for my librarian peeps. Some care, most don't. Where do I draw the line? Clearly I'm overthinking this.

But 6 is problematic too. So many people encourage us to be ourselves online, share a bit of our personal lives and we become more human to potential clients, bosses, funders, or future colleagues. I don't have a problem with this in theory, but often the joy of online social spaces is that people can become quite intimate (and no, I'm not talking cybersex here, but simply confessions, sharing, revealing aspects of one's personal life, engaging with emotional honesty). It is difficult to control who does and doesn't have access to that world.

Because these concerns were present in my mind, I initially started down the road of having separate online presences in several places. On YouTube, I have an account for me, and one for my work (which is meant literally to represent our project, the Resource Center, not just work-related stuff). On delicious, I did the same, but that is becoming a huge pain in the butt. The resulting workflow has been that if I happen to be logged in as myself, I add a tag which alerts me that I should port the link over to the Resource Center account. Can you spell "inefficient"? Yet, it is way too unprofessional to send people to /lnorvig/serviceresources instead of /serviceresources AND, I do need to add organized and specific tags to everything on /serviceresources. Curses.

Then came Squidoo. I have two accounts there also. One represents persona 4., the other is persona 6 plus an experiment (quickly abandoned) to see if Squidoo could actually bring in any revenue.

Now I'm starting to think the Resource Center needs to be on Twitter and Facebook. And I know I should just consider that part of my work, like I would "become" the Resource Center during the day and hang out in social media spaces as that entity, but I already feel two-faced enough as it is.

How about you? Are you two-faced? How do you blend or separate the personal and the professional online?