After shedding my online pseudonyms and assuming my aggressive policy of online identity management, I purchased some domain names that are variations on my real name. Initially, I purchased Bariexca .net and .com because I wasn’t really sure which one I wanted to use, and I guess I figured I could always let one expire after a year if it looked like I wasn’t going to use it. I decided to cultivate the .net domain as my online presence and primary form of communication (website, email, etc.), but the .com found a home with the least likely user – my wife.
My wife is about as into computers and technology as I am into rubbing cheese graters on my eyeballs, but for some reason, she decided that summer that she wanted to set up a website for posting her weekly homework assignments (she’s a HS special ed teacher). After looking at some options, she went with a Tiddlywiki site hosted at Tiddlyspot. Since I had the .com name already at that point, I offered it to have the URL re-direct to her site, as it does to this day – Bariexca.com is a bare-bones, text-only site that serves its purpose, but does nothing flashy, and I think it’s at least a little easier for students to remember “my teacher’s last name .com” as the site to visit instead of MrsBariexca.tiddlyspot/wikispaces/whatever.com.
I focused more attention on Bariexca.net – this became the domain name for my homework website, which was hosted at Wikispaces and offered a little more in the way of functionality – in addition to homework assignments, I posted PDFs of articles for my kids to read (thereby reducing my time at the photocopier to a fraction of what it used to be), mp3s of myself modeling Middle English pronunciation for my Honors Brit kids, copies of homework sheets and handouts, links to cool websites, etc. When I left teaching, I re-purposed the domain as a more family-oriented portal – go to Bariexca.net now and you can get to my family’s blog, a family history wiki (well, you will when I put it up), and DamianBariexca.net, a separate third domain I bought to separate my professional stuff from my family stuff.
I’ll discuss the thought process behind DamianBariexca.net in a future post as I swing this back toward the digital portfolio concept, but I want to close by adding that online identity management is more than just buying domain names and using SEO tactics to raise your Google rankings – there must be a behavioral component to complement the technological component. Better writers could probably do a whole series on that alone, but I’ll try to condense it to one sentence: be smart about what you post online under your real name. This goes for any online activity – assume everything is publicly accessible, because often, well – it is, even if indirectly so. Anything you don’t want future employers/current grandmothers to find out about? Use a pseudonym and don’t post a picture.
Of course, the more you do online, the more “Googleable” you will be, so even if a third party posts something defamatory or unflattering about you, chances are that one item will be buried among links that better represent you (see Lifehacker’s article “Have A Say In What Google Says About You” for more specific tips).
OK, so we’ve covered a) what a portfolio could/should be, and b) how to take control of your “digital identity”, for want of a better term. Let’s c) if I can wrap this up next time by bringing the two together and deconstructing what I decided my primary online representation should look like. I invite your scrutiny and counter/co-examples.