Saw this comic a couple of weeks ago (HT @barbaragordon) and – as well as making me laugh – it made me think about my own online profile.
Now, I pretty much live online. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, LibraryThing, Delicious, Google Reader, Flickr, Blogger, WordPress (of course!) and probably a bunch of others I’ve forgotten! I was on MySpace too but deleted my account a couple of years ago.
However, if you Google my name you get pages and pages of results – virtually none of which have anything to do with me. It helps that I have a very common name (and I apparently share it with an Irish TV presenter, so her results take up the first few pages of Google anyway!); it also helps that I almost never use my real name online.
The decision not to use my own name was a conscious one when I began blogging (but not when I began Twittering – my Twitter username was originally my own full name, but I had to change that quite early on). For personal reasons, I preferred not to have my full name linked to anything I was writing online – without wanting to go into too much detail, I had some problems with an ex-boyfriend who was harassing me online, and I didn’t really want to give him that much of an insight into my life. He did find my Twitter account – hence I changed my user ID – but I don’t think he ever stumbled across my blog. I could be wrong, of course.
Thing is, I set this blog up never really expecting anyone to read it. As it’s turned out, while I don’t have an enormous audience, there are quite a few people reading this – and it’s become a very useful professional tool for me. I’m starting to think that the disadvantages of keeping it anonymous outweigh the benefits. I haven’t heard from the ex in a while, and it would be really useful for me to be able to point people to this site from other places where I do use my real name, such as LinkedIn.
So this was really just a roundabout way of saying that I’ve decided to relax my policy of never linking to – or allowing links from – any site that identifies me by my full name. I’ve done this in a few places already and the world hasn’t come to an end (yet) – so it probably shouldn’t make much of a difference to my blogging.
I’m also planning on shifting this blog fairly soon, to a self-hosted WordPress site. My plan is to make the new site a kind of online CV – so I’ll pull in my LinkedIn details, plus anything professional-like from other sites (like the New Professionals Conference programme). That’s really been the spur for this decision – it’s a bit pointless building an online CV if you can’t include your real name on it! Hopefully will all work out ok – watch this space!