I’ve got an online friend, and the other day we were talking about mistakes we’ve made in our online lives. She’s had problems, bleeding over into her real life, because she let too many people in her little corner of the internet know who she really is.
On the other hand, if you don’t let anyone know who you are, to paraphrase Sondheim, you don’t get the bad things but you don’t get the good things but you don’t get the bad things.
On the third hand (hey, I’m in the middle of a sci-fi reading binge) the library world in which I move is not very internet-savvy and is not very motivated to read English. The one thing I’ve already decided about my “brand” is that it will always mix Hebrew and English. I’m a middle aged library student. The chances that I’ll move to some English speaking country and take the library world by storm are about as high as the chances that I’ll win next year’s Miss Universe pageant. But maybe that’s not a bad place to start my brand — after all, in real life I’m also known for my mixture of languages.
I do brand in real life. To steal a method of description from Tina Reynolds, I’m the “tech savvy librarian in high heels”. In the library school cafeteria I’m the one at the corner table, explaining how to open Google Sites to public view or how to DM on Twitter. I’ve had more than one instance where I’ve gone to librarians to get help with data searches and ended up teaching them the database instead of the other way ’round. And when we go on a tour of libraries, I’m the one click-clacking down the halls and asking the staff about computerization.
But branding online? I’ve never really thought of it. I have started to segment my online life to separate my work (using my English name) from my library school studies and activities (using my Hebrew name) from my knitting (on Ravelry using an establish net-name) from my sci-fi fandom (on archives using fandom-specific names). I suppose what I set out to do with this segmentation was to keep my library name clear of what would be considered frivolous and irrelevant, even incomprehensible to local sensitivities, and to keep it clear from mistakes I made in being too public in my own name when the internet was young and a more trusting place.
So far it’s worked. When I did as requested for this Thing and checked my own name on Scroogle the top spots were my own Tweets. After that things got murky: my first name means “love” and a popular DJ/remixer has the same last name as I do, so his remixes of pop love songs on YouTube showed up. Of the top 20, 13 are me, and none are anything I wouldn’t want made public.
But I suppose if I’m going to put the effort into being out there on the web as a librarian-in-training, I ought to think of the visual aspect of it. (The tone I can’t help. It’s going to be snarky and mother-like. No matter what I try to do, I can’t leave that tone at the door.) I have a visual presence in real life, but how on earth do I translate that to my blog and Twitter? I hate graphic design. Time to call in the troops.