Monday, March 23, 2009

Onliners - careful how you look and what you say!

Kris Krug knows from social networking: He's a member of no fewer than 23 websites that track and share his online identity.
Twitter, Facebook Beget The 'Social Chameleon' And Self-Surveillance
Gillian Shaw, Canwest News Service
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Jennifer Lowther isn't quite like a certain other Jennifer, the ex-wife of Brad Pitt, whose every move is recorded by paparazzi. But still she has to be mindful of her image when she steps away from her computer and into the world.
"I'm just starting to see my online life permeate my offline," said Lowther. "It is slightly weird when you are recognized by strangers.
"I know when I got to any event, I make sure that my makeup is done, my hair is done - I learned the hard way that people take pictures when I'm not ready."
On her personal blog ‘Lowther, Rinse, Repeat,' Lowther is Jennmae. She's also on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other social networking sites. That, combined with her job as director of Social Media at 6S Marketing, has made her a familiar face among Vancouver's tech and social media community.
"Everyone has a camera these days and photos are uploaded and tagged with your name," she said. "Maybe they aren't being sold to the highest bidder, but all the same we don't have control over that picture.
"We are getting a tiny microbyte of what celebrities get."
"I have definitely found that my online life is now bleeding into my personal life," she said. "People I have never met follow me on Twitter and they know me, and they expect me to know who they are.
"People can know a ton about your life and you have no idea who they are."
The average Canadian has seven online profiles, according to Microsoft Canada research.
"The crazy thing is that people are saying to us they are finding it difficult to manage all of these," said Andrew Assad, consumer and online research lead for Microsoft Canada.
"They are a little different when interacting with each one of these accounts," said Assad, who is @researchgeek on Twitter. "The whole idea of being an online chameleon is what we are seeing in these results."
On his blog, Vancouver's Kris Krug, a photographer, technologist and author, lists no fewer than 23 social software sites he takes part in.
Dubbed Vancouver social media rock star by Social Signal's Rob Cottingham, Krug's online life is pretty much an open book - but it's a book he gets to edit as he sees fit.
"You could literally reconstitute my life from my digital identity," he said. "You would recreate the story of my life from the landmarks I have left out there."
Having an online life certainly affects your offline life.
"You can meet a girl or a boy and before you've had your first or second date, you know who they have been with, who was their last boyfriend or girlfriend - it makes for interesting conversations."
Online personas can also put pressure on the most basic privacy - like being able to drop offline without raising alarm bells.
"If I don't upload a photo on Flickr, or update Twitter for two days, people send out a rescue party," Krug said. "I don't want my digital life to be the entirety of my identity.
"I love it but if I leave it for a while, it doesn't mean I am dying or giving up on the Internet."
You don't have to be a celebrity across the Internet, social media allows you to be a star in your own little orbit.
Rob Cottingham, president of the social media marketing company Social Signal, says: "More interesting than the people who become instant celebrities are the people who become famous in a particular niche or within their own social networks. When you are able to rise to a level of prominence but just among the people you know."
It may not make you as influential as Brad Pitt when it comes to getting the best table in a restaurant, said Cottingham, but it is more meaningful and comes with payback in terms of personal satisfaction.
It's also leading to a 24/7 surveillance that would make spies look like mere slouches.
"We are assembling the kind of dossiers that most intelligence agencies would kill for and we are doing it without them lifting a finger," Cottingham said. "I'm not suggesting this is going to be some massive Big Brother conspiracy, but it requires a little bit of thought - how much of our lives are we revealing and how much do we want to reveal?"
Social media also provides no shortage of ways to measure popularity.
"There are so many metrics out there that tell you how you are doing, or appear to tell you how you are doing - you have this many friends on Facebook, you have this many followers on Twitter - all these serve to tell you what kind of impact you are having."


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