Constructing who we are online: One word, one friend at a time

  • DeVoe K
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In online social networks, the lines between public and private and per- sonal and professional are blurred (even blended) due to their “share and share alike” nature. Sharing user-posted content, such as tweets, comments, photographs, videos, and status updates, reveals everything from likes and dislikes to achievements and foibles to musings and minutia. Those revela- tions are viewed and in turn commented on by what is now an increasingly elastic notion of “friends”: high school classmates, coworkers and bosses, family, city council members, students and faculty, and library users. For libraries and librarians, managing this social content and the way it is distributed impacts the online identities we create as well as the reference services we provide. Whether creating a personal, professional, or institutional profile, one of the easiest ways to manage social content according to Schwartz et al. (2009) is to establish a consistent profile name across multiple social net- working sites. A consistent profile name not only helps you when logging in to your various accounts, but it also helps your friends and library users find you. For example, if one of your users heard about a recent video of an author event posted to your library profile on YouTube, he or she could view the video and then search to discover whether any photos from the same event were posted to a corresponding Flickr account. A quick follow- up search on Twitter could also let the library user know how attendees commented on the event.

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