Monday, July 23, 2012

Open authorship

These days anyone can publish anything online.  Most of the time, to sign up for a Web 2.0 account you need an email address, but sometimes not even that.  Open authorship has been amazingly positive in many respects, probably the most important of these is that you can reach audiences who would otherwise be completely inaccessible.  Open authorship has been important in many political movements too, for example last year's Arab Spring where bloggers and tweeters were able to communicate what they experienced with rest of the world straight from their mobile phones.  As a result free speech and democracy have flourished and the outrage generated when someone's right to this free speech was curtailed was seen recently following the attempt by a Scottish council to ban 9 year old Martha Payne from writing her NeverSeconds blog posts about school lunches.

Open authorship also means that you have to be more protective of your online reputation.  As Matt Ivester writes in LOL...OMG
Your online reputation is often the first impression that you create.  Before someone knows anything about you, you have a clean slate.  Then he or she searches your name online and begins to form an impression of you ... Whatever the impression, any contradictory information received after the original impression is made comes under suspicion and must be proven - you must fight to refute the impression that has already begun to form in his or her mind.  You're much better off giving a strong first impression if you can.
I connect with some of my former students using both Facebook and LinkedIn.  A couple of days ago I noticed a post on Facebook by one of these who is now at college.  This one word post was hammered@khaosan.  I couldn't help but wonder what damage this could be doing to his online reputation, especially as he must be in his last year of studies and so can't be far away from applying for jobs.  This will obviously have a significant impact on the way that possible future employers will view him should they come across this post during a social background check.  Matt Ivester points out in his book that 70% of recruiters admit to having rejected a candidate based on information that they have found online, citing concerns about lifestyle because of inappropriate comments and unsuitable photos or videos.  Matt writes "The content that you put up online isn't likely to get you the job, but it very well may prevent it.

Matt recommends several levels of privacy for different social media tools such as Facebook and Google+, with a minimum of 3 different groups:  family and friends, professional and acquaintances.  This separates those you know and trust from those you don't know very well and from the people that you work with.  Even with these different groups, it's important to understand that anything that is shared privately is only a couple of clicks away from being public.  He writes "Sometimes in the digital age your only real choice is between sharing your content with everyone and sharing your content with no one."

Photo Credit:  la cuarta ventana by bachmont, 2008 Attribution


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  2. Online publishing really is as easy as pie these days. The only question then is what happens to the online presence that's created, which can be a really big issue - especially for businesses. From what I hear, this is one reason these people and organizations go out of their way to hire someone with good online reputation management skills.