Who Am I? [Online]

June 5th, 2012

What is my online presence, why is that, and what do I want it to be?

What is my online presence?

I spend a lot of time cruising the internet.  Much of it is spent on a small number of websites.  I check ESPN.com at least once per day, I try to check out nytimes.com and haaretz.com also every now and again.  I usually have gmail open in the background.  The site I spend the most time on, though, is google reader.  I have a large number of subscriptions there.  From Chicago sports news to tech updates to web comics to torrent feeds to culture web magazines to really random stuff.

While I may read a lot, I subscribe to very few websites, and comment on even fewer.  [A few months ago, I got really excited about something I found, and commented about it on a website.  Seconds later someone pointed out how very wrong I was…]  There is something about logging in to sites that doesn’t click with me.  Even more so, commenting is a strangely public thing that I just don’t feel comfortable with.

I use the web multiple times a day to search for ways other people solved issues that I am facing, from who was the guest star of a TV episode I saw to the proper argument order for a particular PHP function.  I don’t think, aside from this blog, I have ever either commented on their work (positively or negatively) or posted my own solutions.

The result of this is that when you google my name, the first three results are linked-in, Google+ and Google+, followed by this blog.  Most everything after that seems to be automatically generated genealogy or index type sites.  Googling my two most used web aliases, one returns my YouTube page which only has a lecture my mother gave last year.  The rest are product codes for discontinued USB Oscilloscopes.

The only places I seem to be online are my way too infrequent posts here and on Google+ and a couple contributions to the Ultimate Peace Blog.

Why is that my online presence?

It’s partly generational.  I started using the web at a time when it was drilled into us that we should never be ourselves online because the web is filled with scary predators pretending to be teenage girls.  That would make sense, except the rest of my generation got over it.

Maybe I don’t think my ideas are good enough.  Maybe I’m worried about the permanence of it.  Chiming in as part of a conversation is very temporal.  You say what you want, it’s heard, and then everyone moves on.  Online, as long as the website is still online… it can in theory last forever.

Why that scares me, or even concerns me is probably a question for someone who understands the human mind much better than I do.

What do I want (need?) my online presence to be?

This is the hardest section to write, because it’s probably going to end with some action items that I will need to follow through on.

I think I need to relate to the web in two new (to me) ways: 1) It’s my business card.  Anyone who searches for my name should find the things that I work on and am interested in. 2) It’s an extension of my offline person.  Things I’m involved in and talk about offline should be reflected in the things I talk about and interact with online.

What does this mean? [With bullet points, because I haven’t used them in a while, and who doesn’t like a good bullet-ed list?]

  • This blog.  I need to be more active on this blog, and I need to broaden it’s topics.
  • Plugins, Components, Themes.  As I’ve posted before, I have written a couple little WordPress plugins.  I’ve also done some work on Joomla! components.  I should finalize them and post them online for the rest of you to enjoy.  If for no other reason than to be able to say that I’ve published.
  • Feedback.  I need to give feedback on other’s plugins, advice, etc that I’ve found around the web and tried.
  • I need to make some sort of decision about social media.  Am I in or out, and what does that mean?
  • I need to stop thinking and start doing…

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