(Re)Creating Ourselves Online

The Reflective Teacher, one of my favorite reflective practitioners, left his blog behind recently.  But now he’s back with another:

Anyway, I figured it was time for a reinvention as a teacher. I see in myself a different person than I was when I became a teacher, and therefore have moved things over to another place. What’s here will be erased but not forgotten. This place is invaluable to me, but I must let it go.

The kids always call me “Mister,” and when they address me, it’s as “hey, mister.” Therefore, you’ll find me at heymister.

Worth subscribing.

As a complete aside, I find the decisions that folks make about what’s public and what’s private, and how they create (or recreate) and negotiate their digital identities completely fascinating.  The rhetorical and practical decisions that go into everything from creating a screenname to deciding what and where to post are really interesting.

I’d love to facilitate a roundtable or panel discussion about this at some point in the future.  Lots worth exploring.  And, of course, for those of you who blog anonymously (which I can understand but not quite condone), we’ll provide brown paper bags and electronic voice scrambling.  Or something like that.

Would you attend such a conversation?

24 thoughts on “(Re)Creating Ourselves Online

  1. I’d definitely be interested in talking about that. I used to belong to some online communities a decade ago, and it’s interesting to see what they evolve into over time.

    I’m very interested in Howard Rheingold’s work–was looking into it years ago, but haven’t followed up recently. But he had a lot of interesting things to say about online identities.

    Anyway, count me in 😉

  2. Yes, I think this conversation is intriguing and important. As I encourage students to build their student voices and also “be online who they are offline”, and they are middle schoolers!, I have lots of thoughts and more questions than answers. Love to join in.

    A couple of 7th grade student posts that speak to “who we are” (the second is specially related to the online and offline) are noted below:

    (1) http://msresourcenetwork.edublogs.org/2008/03/10/actions-typewriters-and-blogs/

    and
    (2) http://elizabethab.learnerblogs.org/

  3. It would be a fascinating discussion!

    I always thought my screen name was so close to my real name because I wasn’t smart enough to think of a clever screen name. But now you tell me there may have been a conscious decision involved. Thanks, Bud! It makes me feel a lot better! 😉

  4. Ever make a list of all the aliases you have on the net? I have many of mine written down and find that many of them DON’T overlap–I may be “gnuman” on the Ubuntu forums, but on my students programming forum I’m just “Mister G”.

    I remember doing telnet text-only chat rooms back in …. 1993 or so, back when people didn’t use the world wide web yet and instead uses archie, gopher, and other text-only applications.

    Even then, we all had aliases.

  5. At first I regretted using hshawjr due to the security concerns on the internet. But the more I thought about it, if you are on the net a lot, your “stuff” is going to be out there anyways.

    Google and others know so much about me that I would hate to see their profile of me! So if you think that by simply not using a real name it will keep you anonymous, it really doesn’t work. If someone wants the info, they can find it.

    But sometimes having a “handle” is just plain fun :). I’d love to participate in a forum. Harold

  6. I obviously have not used a pseudonym. I had created a site about my father (an ex pow) when I first published online and then my own site followed. Then I began teaching. I could not unravel all that had gone before on the Internet.

    When I began the blog I simply used my real name. I feel my words have more meaning if I blog with my real name. Criticising my former Prime Minister, John Howard, would seem less meaningful if I used a pseudonym.

    Thank goodness I do not work at the Horace Mann School in New York. If the article, referred to by Gary Stager (http://www.stager.org/blog/), is accurate then that school requires a complete rethink from the top down and the ground up. This post makes me think of the article. This is the link.
    http://nymag.com/news/features/45592/

    I never blog about teachers, students, professional relationships at the school where I teach.

    I see another positive side to using my real name. I have been invited to speak at local conferences and I had an opportunity to publish last year as well. That may not have happened if I was using a screen-name.

    Cheers, John.

  7. I think this would be a phenominal panel to be a part of. It would be especially interesting to see also how this may also play a part in how video gamers use avatars . I’d also love to hear what students have to say about their online personality/identities, as well!

  8. I definitely would like to be a part of the discussion… I only recently stumbled across your blog, but I like what I see and look forward to future posts

    it will be interesting to throw around different ideas.

    I myself prefer to avoid creating additional different copies of myself on the internet, as I would most likely forget who I was supposed to be… I have trouble enough as it is keeping track of work bills and email, having to manage additional pseudo-identities is a bit much.

  9. Count me in, too, Bud. I’ve spent much of the last few months trying to “rediscover” my sense of self online after leaving the classroom. The connection between online and offline identity, and the choices we make online as part of defining “self,” are complex and fascinating.

  10. I think this type of roundtable discussion could prove interesting and useful. Have you thought of inviting Ted Nellen? He has a blog now, too. Appropriately enough he calls it CyberEnglish.

  11. Perhaps it’s just because I read them relatively close to each other, but for me this connects with a recent post by Will http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/making-kids-googlable/ . We need to think some more about how our students create and recreate themselves online, and how our efforts to keep them safe (“don’t use your full name”) may actually work at cross-purposes to that at times. Not that I have the answers, mind you, but I’m pretty sure our current approach isn’t sufficient.

    I think another piece of this is the idea of controlling (for lack of a better word) your online self (reputation). As somebody who has perhaps lost containment on that myself (being defined at least somewhat by others), I wonder if control is even possible (or desirable)?

  12. So many great comments here. Thanks.

    Karl – I agree completely, and thought Will’s piece was helpful. I wonder if “managing” is a better word than “controlling.” I can’t imagine what your situation is like – but I do remember the first time my picture showed up on Facebook. I didn’t put it there. We’ve lost control of what gets said about us online. What’s left for us to control is how we react and respond to what’s out there.

    Not sure if that’s liberating or frustrating.

  13. In addition to the aspect of people choosing aliases and screen names in general is the way students are constantly revamping their online id. Adults tend to find an identity and stick with it. Students (at least middle school students) make new ids continually. They don’t seem to worry about keeping the same email id or screen name. It would probably make interesting research. I’ll keep an eye out for your continued thoughts on the subject.

  14. I also find this subject fascinating. Exactly what is the motivation for a person’s online identity and how often does it change? Are we portraying ourselves correctly? I actually made my first podcast on this very subject for one of my grad classes. Thank you Bud. I would love to be a part of this discussion. I have attached my podcast in case anyone is interested. Bud, I owe you an apology, I gave original credit to “coolcatteacher” as I am an avid fan of both and didn’t have time to recreate, but you are the man:). My Podcast.

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