What is important in terms of how we present and manage [individuals & organisations] identities online?
Mallan & Giardina (2009) highlight the fact that a Wikidentity (their term for an online persona) is a constructed representation of the user. This seems to be true for both organisations and individuals as both show themselves in a way they would like to be perceived. Even when an organisation tries to accurately represent itself the social networking site’s internal logic constrains how that representation is structured. Features like comments on a Facebook wall or tagging of photographs (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) require regular management to ensure that the organisation’s identity is not subverted by other posters.
Deleting other poster’s contributions is a balancing act because comments and tags are positively valued as a mark of social engagement according to Mallan & Giardina (2009). Although individuals in their study seemed prepared to tolerate negative comments, an organisation may be less able to allow critical comments to remain on its wall, particularly if they contribute to what they call a “communally negotiated truth”.
What can we share and what should we retain as private to the online world?
None of the readings sought to be definitive on what we should, or should not share, but noted the permanence of shared information. Social networking sites are designed to encourage sharing and, according to Raynes-Goldie’s (2010) research subjects, the default settings for user accounts is to make information public.
In an environment where information is the currency, what to share becomes a cost-benefit analysis in which “privacy pragmatists” (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) trade some privacy for the perceived benefits of social engagement and participation.
Clearly, we can share anything – whether we should do so is a different question. Sharing creates reputational risks (in the real and virtual worlds) for an organisation and Harris (2010) suggests that, to avoid online relationships that create risks to the librarian and the library, the library establishes its own its online identity. Harris assumes that, for a student, “fanning” the library is a satisfactory alternative to “friending” the librarian – an assumption that requires some testing.
Harris, C. (2010). Friend me?: School policy may address friending students online. School Library Journal, 1 April. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6724235.html
Mallan, K. & Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites. First Monday, 14(16), 1 June. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2445/2213
Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook. First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432