Before I continue on about the evolution of my portfolio, I wanted to stop a minute to address what’s often called, for lack of a better term, “digital identity”. In my estimation, this term can encompass a number of things:
- anything you have created that exists on the web
- anything your name is attached to that exists on the web
- account names at services that reflect your true identity (i.e., not done anonymously or under a pseudonym)
For years, I strove to remain anonymous on the Web. I was much more a consumer than a contributor; my content creation activities were limited to the occasional message-board posting, so it wasn’t really much of an issue. However, as I shifted from passive to active engagement with online content/participation, I really struggled with the issue of online identity. On the one hand, I wanted to establish relationships with other educational professionals, but on the other hand, I wanted to maintain a sense of privacy and separation between my professional and personal lives.
As I got more and more involved in the online educational community, I decided that trying to remain anonymous was going to be a losing battle for me, especially as I became more involved in Twitter and blogging. Although it might work for some, I was reminded of the old maxim, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead” – I didn’t think that I could manage some people knowing who I was, and others not, so I decided to go whole hog in the other direction. Or, as I put it on Twitter last month:
Dean Shareski has blogged on these topics of privacy and digital identity before, and he and I seem to have similar thoughts about both of these topics. If I was going to be visible on the Internet, I was going to control what people saw of me as much as I could, starting with domain names. Ironically enough, at a time when separation of the personal from the professional was an issue for me, my thought process regarding my professional identity spilled over to that of my family.
I purchased my last name in both .net and .com flavors, which allowed me not only to create firstname.lastname@example.org/com email addresses for my whole family, but will also allow me to set up websites with custom subdomains. If my kids want sites or blogs of their own when they’re older, I can have them set up at dylan.bariexca.net or kiera.bariexca.com in a matter of minutes (although, as Dean pointed out on Will’s post on this subject, this will have to change if she gets married and takes her husband’s name – huzzah for URL forwarding!). After some further thought, I later decided to also purchase my whole name as a domain. I pay about $9 (US) per year for each domain name through Namecheap.com.
I’ll continue later this week on what one might do with a domain name once obtained, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this: have you bought your name yet? If so, any regrets? If not, why not? In an increasingly Google-able world, how important is this to you?