Monday, October 4, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

I admit it. I use search engines to look myself up online. I search my own name and I’ll possibly search your name too.

Last week, I mentioned that I had to shut my blog down. Because I used it as a fun journal of reflections, I started to feel invaded and violated when friends would read my thoughts or stories before I could tell them myself. Although I quickly secured it for invited guests only, certain lines from it still appear.
So, how exactly do I marry my professional presence with my opinions about Jeanne’s cakes and cilantro?

Secondly, I once entered a contest called “Secrets to a Happy Marriage” and was determined to win the weekend get-away they advertised. What I wrote was true, but it was also personal…and was intended for their magazine (hard copy). Apparently, they put it online too, and authorized a variety of other online magazines to use it as well. Although there is nothing shocking or crazy in the smug little nuggets I shared about my wonderful marriage (note the sarcasm), I am mortified that THIS is what a potential employer, new colleague, or new friend will read about me in a search.  The context is removed, and now I am one of the people Fred Stutzman refers to when he states “the technology everyone wants is the laser to remove bad results from Google.” (Digital Footprints, p5). Yes, it’s true – I’ve put the laser-removal technology on my Christmas wish list…but will Santa do a Google search and find I’ve been naughty?

My passive digital footprint includes some guides I wrote to help internationally-educated nurses succeed here in Canada. I would like my students to find those, but not to have to navigate through all the silliness first. I don’t want my students to know about my personal preferences, my marriage or my read my blogged anecdotes about the dailyness of my life.  I’m not a fan of tools which make my activities at the moment known, but will allow for that only when I host Skype classes or send the occasional tweet about a grammar issue that is plaguing me right then.

The question arises as to privacy and identity being based on “west-world views”. Many of my students are new Canadians, coming from cultures where privacy is highly valued (despite their tight-knit living arrangements).  Posting their picture on our website and answering my questions about their likes and dislikes in their self-introductions is a challenge for many of them.  The younger the student is, the more likely they are to post their picture and introduce themselves beyond what their career path has been.  It can be hard for those of other cultural backgrounds to understand the confident self-promotion we preach when it comes to finding a job in North America (interview preparation required), particularly when you come from a culture where you are better off NOT singing your own praises. So, to develop a deliberate or active digital footprint is likely a big challenge if you don’t embrace our west-world views of tasteful self-promotion.

The tools I am interested in learning better are the web-conferencing/classroom tool called WiZiQ (which I’ve been asked to pilot with my nursing students) as well as discover how Twitter can contribute to my students’ learning. I’m not sold on either WiZiQ or Twitter so it will be a challenge for me.

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