Posts Tagged ‘personal branding’

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Class 6: My Avatar and Me – virtual identities

November 7, 2019

Who’s who in the digital environment and how do we know? The question posed by Locks Aichi in this week’s class.

Locks Aichi started the discussion by asking us ‘Who are you?’ She qualified it by suggesting we could respond as our avatars or our real selves. All the replies were short and to the point with some of you giving your avatar names and others your class name or the subject you are studying.

Locks continued by asking us to consider the pieces of data that make up your identities in the virtual space and this produces a range of replies:

  • what you post on your feed
  • putting out a reflection of yourself
  • in SL you can choose how to display yourself – the visual aspect makes it different from the limitations of text-based social media apps
  • the Green Team noted their decision to share a single identity as dogs. (Is that your only identity? Is there anything beyond the pack?)
  • Exposing your identity
  • recalling Sitearms comments a few weeks ago you suggested that people can create different personas
  • present differently online from how you are in RL
  • present the best part of yourself.

It was suggested that social media provides a curated or crafted version of yourself, it also presents the highlights of your life. In RL we are so used to reading body language that it can be harder to hide aspects of yourself than it is online, which provides the opportunity to be more deceptive, perhaps.

Then Locks asked ‘Who owns your digital identity?’ You thought that there is much less privacy now than before – we tend to be more open and post everything that we do. We don’t really have privacy.

In RL who owns you? Nobody. Why is it different in the digital space? In the early days of social media we frequently heard the aphorism

if you are not paying for a service you are probably the product.

Data is sometimes referred to as the ‘new oil’ because of how valuable it can be. How often do we read the terms and conditions before signing up for an app or a service? Do we take the time to understand what data we are handing over? In Europe GDPR legislation (General Data Protection Regulation) has come about to protect our data. Organisations are not permitted to hold our data without permission, nor are they entitled to use it for any purpose other than the one for which we have given explicit permission. It also gives us the right to be forgotten – digitally.

By not making a choice we are actually making the decision to give our personal data away. If you share too much without giving consideration to the consequences it makes it harder to shape your online or virtual identity later. So, for instance, Locks made the decision to use her twitter account solely for professional purposes. It is not possible to glean anything of her personal life from it.

Do you think about the shape of your digital life: socially, personally, professionally?

LouHug said that he posts less online now than he used to two years ago – part of the reason for this is that he doesn’t want to appear foolish in front of his kids later on in life. Others suggested that you could use multiple accounts for different personas and/or purposes.

Locks suggested that it is becoming more difficult to live outside the digital world. So much commercial transactions are now carried on digitally that it has become necessary to link digital identity with our real world identities. For example, banking legislation is increasingly resisting anonymity to ensure trust and reliability and to counteract laundering and other illegal activity. The data trail is now becoming an asset.

Locks asked us to take five minutes to think about how you would present yourself as a professional online and post your response in 140 characters or less. When you had all posted your responses in local chat she asked how you had made the decision about what information to share?

  • started writing about the future but then reverted to describing the present
  • gave abilities rather than personal details
  • personal perspective – tried to look at it from a client’s perspective
  • professional – present as diligent, dedicated, reliable and experienced in team work
  • professional but with one personal trait for balance
  • look like the best professional possible
  • factual

Virtual identity is something you create. Given time and careful curation it can become a valuable asset. So, for instance, if somebody retires from an organisation their profile may well remain. The identity is transferrable – it has become a quantifiable asset. Therefore, we are now seeing an increasing interest in laws around privacy, intellectual property and ownership of digital assets.

Impersonation is also a greater problem because it can be easier to present a false identity in the digital environment. Hence the rise of accredited identities such as the blue tick used by Twitter, although the service has been put on hold.

All of this underlines the importance of trust in the digital landscape. You should decide what you are trying to achieve with your online digital or virtual identity and allow that to guide your approach to developing it.

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Class 6: My Avatar and Me – virtual identities

March 21, 2019

We were joined by Locks Aichi for class this week but, due to the vagaries of online environments, she was unable to materialise her avatar in SL so engaged remotely. Locks could hear us but was unable to move her avatar or communicate through text or voice. Instead she sent WhatsApp text to John who shared with the class.

We all teleported to a location that was large enough for you to break into your teams far enough apart to have a voice discussion without disturbing each other. However, it seems you mostly used text again! continuing to be somewhat reluctant to use voice. Each team was asked consider the question: ‘what is the basis for your visual identity?’ and come up with two key considerations – to be posted to a scrumblr board.

Scrumblr board recording team responses.

We then teleported back to the classroom to share our thoughts. John opened by suggesting that some consideration of what ‘self’ means is an important starting point when considering our personal identity. Chalmers talks about consciousness – a prerequisite for the idea of ‘self’ and Dennett posits a particular theory about the nature of ‘self’ being somewhat fluid to say the least. (Some of you hadn’t viewed the video material so it would be useful to do so now to get an insight into this thinking.)

Using the examples of our avatars John suggested that virtual identity gives us the opportunity to explore how we might present ourselves to others. His own avatar, Acuppa Tae, was originally designed to look as close to him IRL as possible because he felt it was appropriate in his role as a teacher. However, that requires the avatar to be updated as time passes! Sitearm Madonna’s decision to use a female avatar emerged from a desire to acknowledge his mother’s role in his development. Locks said that she chose to be a guy to be different from her RL self; not really because of how she wanted to be perceived but more to see if she would behave differently when aligned with a male avatar. She considers her avatar as a suit of clothes rather than an identity. Experimenting with your virtual self allows for fun to explore – just like dressing up. It poses the question that identity may be something transferable bringing to mind the movie Get Out.

We discussed the issues you noted on the pin board and attempted to identify the shift in thinking from consciousness of the self to the development of an identity and on to the promotion of a personal brand. The notion of authenticity began to emerge as we came to the end of the class and this would be an interesting point to pick up in your own blog posts. What influences our choice of avatar and how we present in SL? How do we identify with our avatars? What identity are we attempting to present in our website blogs?

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Class 6: Persona, identity, presence

November 8, 2018

This week John started by reminding the class of the importance of re-reading the assessment criteria for your blogs. You will notice that one criterion relates to ‘timelines’ and suggests that regular updates each week are required. So, those who have yet to submit a link to their blogs should do so on the Facebook page as soon as possible. Please check that your blog is listed on the Student Blogs page and let me know if it is not.

Many of you have not completed the ‘About Me’ section of your blogs. It it important to provide a short and appropriate bio to your readers so that they understand your background and perspective. In that context you should also review your blog – try to approach it from the perspective of a first time reader – to ensure it is coherent. Tidy up the layout, deleting any leftover template placeholders or widgets. You have all included photographs of your SL experiences in your blogs. Ensure they are appropriately captioned and, if you are using images from any other source, remember to credit the author/creator.

We also spoke about how the nature of your writing should be developing over the last two blog posts. For the first three posts your were asked to describe your experience of SL and the module but now you are being asked to reflect on the experience of team building. Write about how you are finding the application of the theory we discussed in the third class meeting, what you think you are learning (or not learning!).

Finally, it is important to proof read your writing before posting. This is to eliminate not only typos and errors but also to improve your communication style. The more you re-read your posts  before publishing the tighter the writing and, usually, the better the final outcome.

As we began to discuss the concept of personal branding it emerged that almost none of you had read the two short texts set from the previous class. John explained that they were essential for any meaningful discussion so class was adjourned for a short period to give you time to read them now. Then John asked you to consider your own online identities and how they are made manifest. You talked about using social media apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. You are aware of the impact on your profile that posting to these apps is having. You also spoke of the need for compatibility between your Real Life (RL) and your online personas. While it was not explicitly declared there is also an implicit understanding of the need to differentiate between you personal and professional profiles. However, John spoke of the difficulty in doing this in the era of Google and Facebook: these global enterprises are very effective in eliminating boundaries. In addition to collecting as much information about you as they can they also seek to compare the data and combine it in order to build as full a picture of you as they can. They don’t respect the boundaries you might like to keep. As a result it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain anonymous. It is very important, therefore, to be aware of the nature of the online environment and to maintain a high level of digital literacy.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: the Guardian article Yourth crime commissioner Paris Brown steps down over Twitter row from 2013 (accessed on 08/11/18).
  2. Read: another Guardian article Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’ also from 2013 (accessed on 08/11/18).
  3. Write the sixth post: to your blog about how you might convert your personal presence online into an identity for  professional networking.  
  4. Read: the academic paper User Generated Content and Virtual Worlds (accessed on 11/11/08). From the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 2008.

Beach bum in the sun!

POSTSCRIPT
John has often thought, since starting to teach this module, that the ultimate benefit of teaching online is that it affords the opportunity to teach a class from any location, with the ultimate ideal of doing so while sitting in the sun on a beach. Travelling to conferences has required me to deliver the module from places such as Nantes, Vilnius, Poznan, Florence and other locations around Europe. We have also has participants join the module from Sherkin Island off the west coast of Ireland and various countires around Europe, the US and Australia. But this class was the closest I have come to delivering from a beach: on holiday in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Unfortunately, the vagaries of international time zones resulted in my having to teach this class at midnight local time! But at least my avatar got to wear a hawaiian shirt…

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Class 7: Personal branding

November 22, 2017

John was unable to get his voice working this week so the class had to be conducted entirely through text chat. This slows the conversation down considerably and forces everyone to be more precise in what they say, using the minimum amount of words – a little like conducting a class entirely in twitter.

We started off with some feedback on the participants blogs. John gave the following pointers:

  • Include your About Me profile in your blog.
  • Make sure it is easy to follow your blog – approach it as a first time visitor.
  • Tidy up your blogs – delete the template pages and widgets.
  • Caption your pics and illustrations.
  • Include references to the reading and cite them correctly.
  • Be reflective – discuss what you are learning (or not learning!)
  • Proof read before you post.
  • Make sure you approve any comments. Comment on your peers’ blogs.
  • Some of you need to ensure your have written all the required posts – don’t be a mean writer!

These comments will be supplemented by more specific comments for each student that will be sent by direct message in Facebook.

John also reminded the class that one blog post per class is the minimum requirement for assessment. From now on you should be writing about how your team is functioning on the group project. Refer to the talk on team work by Sitearm Madonna and describe you own contribution to the group in particular. Be constructively critical and remember this is a learning exercise not an exercise in perfection. In fact, you are likely to learn more from what goes wrong than what goes right.

We then discussed the reading from the last week in the context of our own online personas. The issue of ethics and morality surfaced almost immediately. Identity theft, catfishing (using social media to pretend you are someone you are not), trust and gender were discussed in similar terms to the issue of privacy, transparency and opacity last week. Glenn suggested there is no essential self to find… much in the way that it is not possible to have true transparency. But, he went on to suggest that trust is very important. We considered how difficult it can be to build trust yet how easy it is to shatter it. barrrttyy suggested that developing a personal brand might be important when we consider it may last longer than a single job or career.

John asked everyone to consider the difference between our personal identities and our professional ones in the online environment. Do we always distinguish between the two? Should we? How might we do so? This is where the importance of digital literacy becomes clear. We need to be aware of our online behaviours to ensure our current behaviour doesn’t exclude us from future opportunities.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: about the girl who resigned her position as UK police youth commissioner in 2013 due to previous tweets. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  2. Read: about another example of person losing their job over a racist tweet. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  3. Read: User Generated Content and Virtual Worlds  from the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 2008. [Accessed on 27 November 2017.]
  4. Write the fifth post: to your blog about how you might convert your personal presence online into an identity for professional networking.
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Class 5: Personal branding

March 3, 2016

There was a smaller class group this week so, after waiting for the others to turn up we started a discussion on the assignment completed during the week. All of you visited clubs in SL and discovered the peculiarity of DJs, performers and the joy of dancing in this environment. You also discovered that communities form around such regular events, much as they do in real life. Also, as in real life, it may not always be easy to get access to the community – people may not be willing to engage with newbies. We will return to a discussion about communities in a later class. Some of you were unable to animate your avatar to get it to dance and those who did were unable to stop dancing! John gave everyone an object that stops animations by dragging it onto your avatar – a handy device to keep in your inventory.

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We decided to visit the Bauhaus Museum in SL for the second part of the class. It is a recreation of the famous early 20th Century school in Weimar Germany presenting information about the staff and students along with an exhibition of Bauhaus work and Bauhaus-inspired work. The spacious venue is also ideal for hosting an impromptu discussion. Although there were other visitors viewing the work it was possible to sit comfortably and discuss the reading material on personal branding.

John reminded the class that the first assessment of the blogs will take place sometime after 12 midnight on Sunday 6th March, so ensure your blog posts are all up to date before the end of the weekend.

John also dispersed cash in the form of L$. Each student received L$300 to facilitate their interaction with the SL economy. Despite the appearance of immense generosity on his part John explained that the exchange value is somewhere in and about US$1. No opportunity to get carried away, therefore. You should also be aware that there is plenty of free stuff available around SL if you go searching. Try experimenting with clothing: how to change outfits (you will find a wardrobe in your inventory folder); accessories such as jewellery and watches; objects such as mugs and glasses, tools etc. You need to spend some time playing in SL so that you get a sense of the possibilities.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Visit: shops in SL and make a purchase using the L$ given to you in the class.
  2. Write the fifth post: to your blog describing your experience of the consumer economy in SL.  
  3. Lecture: From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation.
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Class 4: Who are you?

February 25, 2016

The class discussed the notion of online identity this week. We started by sharing experiences of trying to meet new people in SL. This proved interesting in many ways. Approaching complete strangers was simultaneously easier and harder than doing so in real life! Harder because participants were new to it and found it took courage and determination to introduce yourselves and begin a conversation. Easier because you were aware that all residents of SL had made a conscious decision to be here and therefore were signifying their willingness to engage with others. The comparison was made with joining a club or going to an entertainment venue where everyone acknowledges that they are in attendance for social interaction.

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Meeting new people in Second Life is both hard and easy!

There were some surprises at the direction conversations occasionally took. Participants discovered a slightly darker side of  the online world that offered ‘adult entertainment’. Just as in the real world, it is possible to encounter unsavoury characters and it is important to be aware of this side of online environments. However, unlike the real world it is easier to escape from an unpleasant experience by teleporting elsewhere or simply logging off.

Many of you suggested that SL offered the opportunity to present yourself in a new way – to experiment with the presence you offered online. Many residents present as animals or imaginary characters such as vampires or zombies. Even more ambiguous is the knowledge that we don’t really know who we are engaging with in an online environment. The cues we rely on in the real world are not available online. John suggested that this ambiguity also permeates notions of the ‘truth’. He gave the example of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog that received international attention when the supposedly lesbian author was revealed as an American male postgraduate student in 2011. The author claimed he was creating a voice for issues he felt strongly about but the public reaction to being hoaxed was less forgiving. John also mentioned last year’s controversy surrounding the white civil rights leader who passed herself off as black for years. One of the surprises in the Rachel Dolezal case is the amount of support she received after the truth was revealed. If people can be race-fluid or gender-fluid in real life it is unsurprising that they can present convincingly in SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Visit: a music or dance club in SL while it is active with other residents and soak up the ambience of online entertainment.
  2. Write the fouth post: to your blog describing your experience of social interaction in SL.  
  3. Read: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Personal Branding by Yohana Desta at Mashable  or Personal Branding Basics by Chris Brogan, expert in online community, social media, and related technologies  or The first Step to Building Your Personal Brand

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Class 4: Personal branding

October 22, 2015

We started the class by hearing from the participants about their experiences meeting new people in SL. It is quite a different experience from RL. Second Life is a platform specifically designed for interaction, communication and community building therefore it is acceptable to speak to nearby people/avatars, even complete strangers. For the most part they are willing to engage. Participants discovered that it was not as easy as it may sound to start conversations: do I use voice or text? I feel uncomfortable using voice; everyone is talking at the same time and it is not easy to distinguish one voice from another; mostly people respond with a greeting but don’t engage any further; it is difficult to break into a group of people who seem to know each other already… Nevertheless, some of you reported having interesting and engaging conversations and nobody experienced unpleasantness.

We then went on to a discussion about online identity – informed by the articles, blogs and website links given here after the last classes. The imagery in Humans of New York provided an interesting opportunity to consider how we present ourselves. Participants talked about how you use Facebook and Instagram and how you perceive ‘friends’ in these spaces. However, it seems you don’t give much conscious thought to how you might be seen by others and how you present yourselves online.

To develop this topic for the next class you should re-read the articles given in class 2. Keep the following questions in mind while you are reading. When I post to Facebook what impact am I trying to make? How would somebody who knows me only through Facebook recognise me from Instagram or any other platform? What criteria did I use in selecting my profile picture? When I am looking for a job what social media links will I include in my CV?

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Think: about three adjectives you would use to describe yourself.
  2. Prepare: an ‘elevator pitch‘ describing yourself in 30 seconds. You will present the pitch in class.
  3. Write the fourth post: on your blog describing the adjectives you selected and why; discuss how these traits influence your Facebook presence; and write your elevator pitch.

elevator pitch

 

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