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PWR209: Web Identity Project

Page history last edited by Alex Reid 15 years, 3 months ago

General Introduction


The purpose of this assignment is to start getting you to think about your "web identity:" that is, how you appear to others who encounter you online. Most college students have MySpace and/or Facebook pages. They might have other network identities related to online video games or file sharing or other social media sites (e.g YouTube, Flickr, etc.). Some of this material may be public; some of it may be available only to certain groups (Facebook profiles for example). But in the end, any material one puts online becomes part of one's "web identity."


Having grown up with social networking, I assume you've all been lectured on the potential dangers of social networking. I imagine you've also been cautioned about not uploading material you'll later regret. This project isn't about those kinds of lessons. Instead it's about developing positive strategies for managing your online life. This begins by recognizing that your web identity, like your real world self, has many facets. In the real world you are a college student, a family member, a member of various social groups (e.g. friends at home, friends on campus, friends in various student groups, etc), and so on. You might also be a boyfriend or a girlfriend or an employee. I'm sure you behave differently for these different groups. Your online identity probably overlaps these real world identities, but also might extend beyond them. Of course, the problem with your online identity is that it becomes hard to control who sees what. That is, if your employer sees you the way your friends or significant other sees you, that might not be a good thing. On the other hand, if you simply limit your online identity to what would be acceptable for your boss or your mom that might not be that great either! Unfortunately I don't have any easy solutions.


The Assignment


  1. Figure out what your web identity currently is. Enlist a friend who can be objective if necessary. What does your online presence say about you?
  2. Determine how you want to be represented. Think about the long-term here. When you graduate from Cortland, you'll be looking for a job. You will have a web identity of some sort already, so the question is how will you want to manage it for professional purposes?
  3. One potential strategy for identity management is to be additive rather than subtractive. That is, rather than heavily muting your online identity, you can add a professional facet to it (of course you probably still want to refrain from posting truly idiotic things!). While I'm not going to ask you to sign on to a bunch of different services, for this project we will explore the different types of services that might be out there and how you might use them. (See my example below.) You can start with some of the sites listed below. Some, like LinkedIn, are clearly intended for professional purposes. Others, like last.fm, are not. Many others could be professional, depending on how you used them.
  4. Twice a week, post on your personal blog on the Ning site about a social media site you've explored. Do a little research and see what you can find out about it. We will do this throughout September, so you should examine at least 8 different sites.
  5. Pick one thing to join or something on which you are already a member and construct for the purpose of beginning to develop a professional web identity.




The project ends Thursday October 2nd. At that point I will evaluate you based on the research you have done and the efforts you have made to begin building that identity. I realize that as college students you may not have a great deal of professional experience, but you'll be on the job market sooner than you think. Plus you may be thinking about internships and other things before that.


One Example


Here are (most of) my identities:

















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