Who am I – Part II

Inspired by a tweet by Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) about people creating two Facebook accounts for business and personal, plus the resulting feedback from my colleague Joe Stanhope (@joestanhope) got me thinking about my previous post on who is the online me?

Joe it turns out is making lots of professional contacts through Facebook and ponders on the future of LinkedIn, which I found interesting. In turn Joe wondered why I had two Twitter accounts, the professional me and the friends and family me?

I have very few business colleagues on Facebook and feel a bit uncomfortable with the few that are there, who I would not now consider friends.

LinkedIn on the other hand is exclusively business contacts and I wouldn’t post anything chatty to LinkedIn, staying close to professional matters.

Twitter is currently work focused, although I do share some ‘water cooler’ type chit-chat on the tea I am drinking or the weather (come on I am British!). I am sort of business casual here, I guess.

Facebook updates are much more personal and the audience (of predominantly old friends and family, who have no idea really of what I do) would think me dull if I post “Ian is thinking Seth Grimes ‘snarky’ (his word) observations on semantic web practitioners are interesting”.

So, it seems that Joe has a very different experience, and it got me thinking why would that be? I am no social software expert, but in mind this picks at something deeper – (that someone else has probably commented on more authoratively and at this point I should Google furiously and find out who…).

It could have something to do with my personal journey through life, that as I have discussed previously, the place I am in now, is not the same as 20 years ago – or especially at school (you don’t meet many software company execs in our alumni and I (cough) skipped on university). Yet the social web has allowed me to span these ‘lives’ and be in touch with people who have followed their own journeys. Maybe Joe (and I haven’t asked him) finds that his Facebook directory of old school friends, siblings and in-laws is full of similarily bright, successful professionals who know the Joe of 2009 very well.

Or could it be that Joe’s relationship with the online community is more open than mine, that the cultural difference between the US and UK plays into that or that (gulp) he is ever so slightly younger than I am!

Or is it that we choose our identity? But – hang on – I don’t choose who follows me on Twitter, who wants me as a contact on LinkedIn or as friend on Facebook. I haven’t turned down a single friend request on Facebook, yet it’s a veritible high school reunion in there.

Why haven’t my professional colleagues found me there like Joe’s experience?

The dynamic at work here is interesting, I do very little to promote my profile on social networks, but the little I do has the effect.

A school friend finds me, I say hello, all of the school friends who know them find me, as do all of the school friends that know them, I get engaged and wonder what happened to that truck mad kid I used to hang out with and suddenly I have a small hockey stick effect of school friend adoption. I do nothing to seek out colleages on Facebook, so that snowball never sets off – yet on LinkedIn and Twitter I do seek out those folks and in turn, etc etc…

Interesting – or is it just me? I tried hard to tweet back at them on this, but as you can see – couldn’t fit it into 140 characters!

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2 thoughts on “Who am I – Part II

  1. Hi Ian. I just went through a similar rationalization. I’ve come to the conclusion that facebook is my primary personal network (and I’ve limited business contacts that have found me there to ‘Limited profile’). LinkedIn and Plaxo take care of business contacts and connections, and I post occasional business related status updates. Whilst I was initially using twitter for the usual personal banality, I’ve since realized it has more value as a professional tool – allowing me to share thoughts with a open community (followers and anyone that chooses to search for a keyword I use), and make connections to others thinking about the same topics. I’ve also started using yammer for micro-blogging with my colleagues at HP.

  2. Great post Ian and one I have been wondering about myself…I like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and until recently have had pretty distinct uses for each of them

    As Twitter continues to become mainstream though, the tweets and links I found so interesting are becoming diluted by more chat and I the time it takes me to find the interesting stuff is growing daily. Also, I don;t want another facebook status tool…it has to be more than that to be useful.

    So I think (as someone tweeted recently) it is not information overload but filter malfunction and I need to manage my social networks better.

    On the topic of personal vs professional, that too is becoming blurred and I think we’ll see convergence within the social software market as people want to manage different networks in one place (either that or we’ll all learn how to actually use friendfeed properly).

    I reckon the cartoon by Hugh McLeod has never been more relevant: http://www.gapingvoid.com/atlassian006

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