CPD23 Thing 3: Isn’t branding for cattle?

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.


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9 Responses to “CPD23 Thing 3: Isn’t branding for cattle?”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Hello from another knitter on Ravelry by another name though easy enough to link my real name and Ravelry name. I’m rtying to figure out just how much of my non-library-related life to let into my library life. I’ve been seen knitting in library conferences/workshops so why not let some of that leak into my professional life? After all, it is part of who I am. It’s just getting the balance right so that I demonstrate I’m someone with more than an interest in the information profession, but not enough that people are confused about my intentions on my professional blog.

  2. Shannon Says:

    PS For some reason it isn’t linking to my blog – http://srobalino.wordpress.com

  3. Ahava Cohen Says:

    OK, you convinced me. I haven;t gone so far as to use my real name at Ravelry — there are people on my friends list who are part of my fandom life and to whom I don’t want to expose my real name, but I’ve taken my net-name off my Ravelry and Flickr and so can share it: AKnitting.
    Maybe this (along with some things going on in my personal life) will kick me into finishing more WIPs and posting the projects. (What do you mean, queuing things doesn’t get them made?)

  4. Joseph Norwood Says:

    Interesting post. I was wondering about the names I use for fandom and comics. How possible is it to keep life nseparated using them? I guess to a certain degree, i.e. enought to prevent a job interviewer finding you.

  5. Ahava Cohen Says:

    It certainly takes a lot of work. I didn’t put in the work in my first two online fandoms, and after years away, I’m still very high up on search results for those names. In my newest fandom I’m extremely vigilant about not revealing who I am or letting slip with hints, even to my closest fandom friends. It works less well if you go to cons or the like, I admit, but living so far from all civilization I don’t have to worry about that.

  6. Maria Giovanna Says:

    Hi Ahava, a quick comment as promised, like Tina’s blog yours looks very straightforward, I like what you say about yourself – your personality definitely shines through. And I am enjoying typing with the text going from right to left! 😉 Interesting point about languages, I am considering writing my blog in a dual format but it’s becoming more difficult to talk about librarianship in Italian than in English. See you soon in the cpd23 world! MG

  7. Ahava Cohen Says:

    I think, in terms of languages, things worked out well for me. My classes are in Hebrew but most of our readings are in English. Most of my papers I write in Hebrew, but there is one teacher (the one who wants the highest standard of academic writing) allows me to write my tests in English, so I’m learning the jargon in both languages.

  8. Cobalt Says:

    ,Hi Ahava
    I’m so glad that I found your blog in cpd23 because you have a fascinating perspective on the dual-language online presence (plus I greatly enjoy your snarky tone!).
    I think your strategy of ‘segmenting’ online in terms of private and professional areas is sound, and I’m glad it’s working for you. I’m still trying to navigate this in terms of when to use my real name, link to my other blogs, etc. It’s a difficult balance between establishing a presence and over-sharing.
    I look forward to following your blog during cpd23!

  9. Ahava Cohen Says:

    I’m glad the snark is enjoyable, because that seems to be the one thing I can’t control anywhere (often to my detriment). I’m not as good as I’d like to be at segmenting, but I think I’ve got the worst of “would occasion awkward questions from a potential employer” out from where the employer would see them and associate them with me. (This is assuming, of course, said employers would even bother with the English-language internet.)”

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