Web Presence. On Purpose.

I’m writing this morning from the , an event I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved with as a facilitator since its inception last year.  This is the second time we’ve run the event, which is an attempt to provide some time and structure for teams from writing project sites who wish to think strategically about their web presence.  We’ll spend the weekend thinking through the identity of our respective organizations and what we can do online to both reflect and support that identity and the good work that all of us are trying to do in our various locations around writing and teaching and learning. That means lots of things to lots of people, but there’s plenty of intersection in the general trends.

The event is pretty intense, and, while designed for sites to think about their organizational web presences, is very helpful to me as I think about my personal and professional life online.  One of the big questions that we’re asking people to think about is how their web presences are a reflection of and a lens into their work.  My personal web presence should be like that, too.  But I’m not sure that it is.  I’ve got content spread around the web in a variety of places, everywhere from Flickr to Twitter to this blog to my wiki (which is desperately in need of an update or seven) to my work with other groups and schools and people.  There’s plenty of personal mixed in with the professional, and I think the boundaries between those two areas of my life, never truly separate in “real, offline” life, continue to blur and fade and shift from day to day, week to week, month to year.  (That’s a good thing, I think, for the most part.) How do I, as a blogger and a teacher and a learner and a father and a husband and a citizen, do my best to ensure a consistent presence across the Internet that reflects what I believe to be important?  Just as essential – how do I bring all of that content that sits all over the place into some sort of a coherent whole?  Or do I need to, so long as all that content in all of those places, and others, reflects the message(s) that I want so desperately to convey – that learning and writing and thinking and engaging and passionately working for the benefit of others are essential habits and skills for everyone, regardless of background, culture, or profession?

I think, too, about what “web presence” means.  Having a presence and creating a presence are not necessarily the same thing.  Being and doing aren’t necessarily the same, either.

These are some of my thoughts as I head into a pretty intensive planning process, where, if last year is any indication, I’ll learn as much, and probably a great deal more, than I’m hoping to facilitate.  This summer, I’ll be doing a three-hour session on presence tools, a class of software that are about making one’s presence known in some formal and informal ways, Twitter being one of the tools that I’m most curious about at the moment.  I also would like to explore more about digital identity, a conversation I sort of started here a little while back.  My work this weekend will continue to influence that work.  Lots to learn.  Luckily, I’ve got plenty of smart folks here to learn from and with.  We should all be so lucky.

12 thoughts on “Web Presence. On Purpose.

  1. Karl Fisch says:

    A lot to think about here, but I only have time for a quick comment.

    You said “Luckily, I’ve got plenty of smart folks here to learn from and with. We should all be so lucky.” Well, in many ways, given our ability to create, join or even just passively observe learning networks, aren’t we all so lucky?

    Oh, also wanted to mention how pleased I am that you’ve been blogging again the last month or two.

  2. Richard says:

    I read every word you write, Bud!

    Whether or not you want to “bring together” all the various facets of your web presence is a tough call. Yesterday the network went down after school and I had a half hour to kill. I played a four-person game of breakout with myself–using four of my web pseudonyms. One is used for my blog, one is used for a magazine I volunteer on, one is for a comic book fan site, one if for an email account that I almost never check, one is gmail, you get the point.

    Would I really want someone to know that I’m all those people at once?

  3. Bud, great blog post – you explore an issue that now affects all of us – not just educators. The Internet is still a very messy place! It is not going to change anytime soon. As long as one conducts oneself appropriately in all situations, I don’t think there is much to worry about. One of my maxims in life is “whatever is digital is portable”. This includes content from email, profiles on social networks, profiles on LMSs, photographs published online behind closes walls that may become permeable…. etc. The point I am trying to make is that if we represent ourselves ethically and with integrity in ALL of our “online presences”, we have very little to worry about something we wrote or uploaded coming back to bite us in the posterior. A lesson we need to remind our students…..

  4. Nicki says:

    While I think the blog post was great, I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t happen to mention how great all of the food has been.

  5. Vicki Davis says:

    You epitomize what all of us do. We have curiosity, we explore, we learn. I think this is a model of the evolving educator. And the “teacherpreneur.”

    It is this type of person that does the best with students in the classroom.

    Excellent post! It sounds like you’re having a great session!

  6. Kevin says:

    The concept of digital identity is interesting — from a personal standpoint and from an organizational standpoint. The work you are doing with the NWP sites is important, Bud, as more and more people come to view an organization through the interaction online. I don’t know if that is always good or bad, but it is reality.
    I wish I could have come to the retreat. Our site needs more work and another overhaul (maybe this cycle comes every three or four years?).

  7. Tellio says:

    I write from the event, too, Bud. This has felt like total immersion language learning…with really good food (thank you very much, Nicki). As for web presence I need to rethink my own as much as my school’s site. This personal kind of re-visioning might actually help me be a better tech liaison as well.

    My web presence is a personal learning ecology that is populated by a rich variety of tools loosely joined. Now that I have been through this I know what May will bring–no, not flowers or Pilgrims. Thanks to Bud and all our utterly impressive facilitators.

  8. Gail Desler says:

    Hi Bud,

    I am still savoring my two days (the most jam packed, but well planned agenda ever!) at last year’s Web Presence retreat. Beyond the great food and great conversations, the event provided the opportunity and some guidelines for exploring existing NWP websites. My favorite continues to be the Prairie Lands Writing Project – http://www.missouriwestern.edu/plwp/ – because every time I visit the site, I feel it’s all about me :-), not just the PLWP.

    I am sure this year’s group will add a whole new layer to process of building or rebuilding a site’s web presence. And I know they will love the opportunity to work f2f with Bud the Teacher!


  9. Sherry says:

    Bud, I am a true fan. I have been interested in this subject since your last post on digital identities. I’ve become an active blogger, wiki user in the last two months and find that I am intrigued by all the tools we have available to use in order to define our online identities. I currently have a blogspot account, wetpaint, flicker, twitter, ning and I am sure one or two more that I missed. How does one portray oneself correctly all the time and how much do we give away. As you stated “what does “web presence” mean? If having a presence and creating a presence are not necessarily the same thing than what is the difference?
    A great post as always.

  10. I appreciate the chance to “eavesdrop” on your learn. Having a purposeful web presence is something I think about quite a bit. For the time being, I have reduced my web activity focusing on my blog. I closed out my campaign website because I had not updated its purpose. I have not made a a meaningful attempt to particpate on twitter. Even with the blog I, I am still trying to find the right balance of purpose.

    It’s fun to watch this world evolve.

  11. Chad L. says:

    You wrote, “How do I…do my best to ensure a consistent presence across the Internet that reflects what I believe to be important?

    I feel that what I say really depends on who I say it to. My beliefs and thoughts about certain things are important to various groups of people – online and off. It’s not that those beliefs are bad, it’s just that some of my friends don’t care about my beliefs about ed tech. Some of my teacher friends don’t care about my beliefs about sports. I think it’s important to have beliefs that are consistent, but who you share them with will vary.

  12. Robin says:

    As one who is relatively new to creating an online presence, I need to regroup all of my resources this summer. GoogleTools, Nings, wikis, blogs, photo sharing sites and whatever else I have created need to be cleaned up and reorganized. Thanks for the motivation!!

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