A visual online profile

A while back I wrote about web profile sites that showcase you and your skills/education/life and all your web ties, should you choose to share them. They are sort of upscale business card/resume sites or services that present your life as you choose to display it, from a variety of perspectives.

The ones I was familiar with were:

and more recently:

Just this week, I read about this new service called Vizify, a visual resume that supposedly blows the other static web services out of the water. The tagline in The Next Web post reads that it’s your “new online profile of choice.”

I don’t know if it’s my profile of choice, but it’s certainly design-savvy and visually stunning. I signed up with an invite and created a new profile easy peasy, but what distinguished this webpage from others I’ve tried is that this one is dynamic, fluid, with page links and statistics that I didn’t expect (drawn from my LinkedIn, Foursquare and Twitter accounts).

web online profileIt’s pretty attractive and those circles move, resize and open up when you click them. Users are given the option to delete circles (or pages) and modify page titles and the main color scheme.  I felt like the service gives users a tremendous sense of graphic/web design pride or satisfaction to those with none (or very little) of those talents.

The most surprising part? When it found something I had written on Twitter and quoted it in very large font back to me. I wrote that?

social value capitalVisually, this page and idea is super attractive and personally, I think it’s got terrific appeal.

Practically, would I use it? Would this be something I would send to prospective employers? Who else would get value out of this? It’s certainly new and attractive with a certain ‘wow’ factor. Time will tell if it’s something that will really replace the traditional web profile page.

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Identity is an Industry

by Mathew Ingram 

Identity on the Internet used to be a fluid concept: something that was difficult to pin down, an idea the New Yorker memorialized in a cartoon depicting the fact that “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”

But that phenomenon has changed as the web has matured. Advertisers have thrown larger and larger sums of money at companies that can tell them exactly who someone is (or close enough), where they live, and what they like to eat or wear.

 

This post is one of a series on “How connectivity is revolutionizing everything” on GigaOM. It’s a very good short read and raises questions of concern, the strongest one for me being the overall corporatization of information and self as existing on sites like Facebook and now, Google+. 

Yes, we are tied to who we are perceived to be on these sites, but many people will NOT join or not participate on public SM sites because of the corporate, ad-driven nature of the “business”.

Since web searching and internet scans are increasingly common methods of looking up information about people, of confirming who they say they are, or of just looking for someone who you want to get in touch with, how does this impact those who do NOT want to be participants online, who do NOT want to have a presence on these mega-commercial sites? Is there a (online) place and space suited to those who want to be off commercialized platforms but still wish to have an online presence or an identity on the web?

I’ve been doing assignments since starting grad school and many of them are tied to the author of the concept, article or book in question. The exercise of tracking down information about authors, most of them scholars and experts in very distinct academic fields, has highlighted for me how much the existence of one’s work and track record digitally recorded on the internet in some form, stands as a measure of what one has accomplished.  Yes, this is an arbitrary measure, and some people will not care or as mentioned, choose not to participate online, but for those studying and wanting to utilize the knowledge body left behind by thinkers and scholars, the internet, unfortunately, is the space where most of the ‘search’ will take place. 

These are different questions but all related to the overall notion of online identity.

A statement of research interests

Tonight, I had to write a self-introduction for one of the first classes of my masters program. The introduction is supposed to include a statement about one’s research interests and pursuits.

After a few fumbling drafts, this is what I came up with:

My research interests are in the areas of the formation of individual and collective identities, encouraged and influenced by i) the visual records created using photographic social media apps on mobile devices and ii) broadband access. I’m also interested in the identity-formation of small cities and hyper-local communities.

Even though it’s a big mouthful, I am satisfied with it for now, but I have a gut feeling that it will change and narrow down as the semester progresses.

Look forward to it!

 

 

QR codes

QR codes are making their way into the daily lives of Americans in a big way after a long successful career in Asia. There are ample reader applications available for all mobile platforms (iOS being my choice). There are also many websites where you can create your own QR codes in very little time and share them with others or print them out for inclusion on your cards and other promotional materials.

QR codes make using business cards to exchange information so much easier, you’ll wonder why you ever did it the other way. But that’s not the only thing that you can spreading around with regard to those little paper rectangles of information.

Yesterday in class we talked about personal QR codes and how they are increasingly becoming identifiers of objects, sites, apps, and more and more, of people. Can a person’s identity be captured and shared in a little black and white square made up of dots and squares?

I’m not against it, just trying to grasp it. I am comfortable with online “business cards” – that’s pretty telling about one’s comfort level about being publicly accessible, but the card has an image of me and I personalized it, made it mine. Certainly, QR code could be shaped according to how and what I want it to say but I think it is more troubling for me because the ACTUAL physical representation of the code is just that – a code, it’s so…. numeric, so technical, a blip to be scanned into a little device. Still….. efficient and merely ONE way of exchanging information. 

It’s coincidence that I also found out yesterday that the site where I keep my public profile has just rolled out a new service offering a QR code/mobile option for premium users to be more quickly able to share contact information with others. 

I’m going to think more about this, if it’s a service that is value-adding enough to adopt (eventually, not anytime soon). 

Books are a waste of time…

Posted on Nov 24th, 2010 by Boris

Join a group of inteligent jazz-loving wine-drinking technology-avoiding book-lovers and tell them the following:

“I hate reading books. I just don’t see the point. In fact, I don’t understand where people find time to read. And why should you do it anyway? What do you get out of it? Nah, I’m skipping the whole book-reading hype”

Saying something like that will certainly make you a social outcast right away. You just can’t say something like that. Books are beautiful, full of knowledge and entertainment. Books are holy.

So why is it perfectly fine for that same group of people to mock the Internet? Why is it okay, when you are above a certain age, to be so dismissive about blogs, Twitter and Facebook?

I don’t go around claiming that I suffer from information overload when I enter a library? Or that reading magazines is a waste of time? Then why is it just fine to ignore the biggest source of information the world has ever seen?

I just don’t get it when intelligent people think it is okay to be so dismissive about new technology. The next time someone is telling me they don’t like the web or don’t see the point in Twitter I’m going to tell them that books are a waste of time. And then I’m going to smack them over the head with one.

 

But aren’t there as many people who are of the this-AND-that group, as there are this-OR-that? I clearly identify with the jazz-loving wine-drinking tech-loving book-loving group.

 

Depictions of place, time and people in Australia

More and more I am fascinated with photoessays and compilations centred around the theme of identity and space and the formation of the knowledge of self. Here is a recent discovery:

SILENCE | Photographs by Brad Rimmer

Memory and cultural idiosyncrasies inform Brad Rimmer’s recollection of growing up in the Western Australian Wheatbelt. These contemplative images depict the quietness of the rural landscape and the photographer’s search for connection in the changing shape of a once familiar place. Rimmer’s photographs consider the ‘familiar’ beauty of his hometown and gently affirm that personal identity is frequently rooted in an empathetic understanding of the people and places of our past, experiences that form an indelible link we hold on to throughout our lives.

Silence410

via Flak Photo.

Social theory in practice via Mean Girls

Meangirls

Was reading in our class textbook about the Birmingham School of “audience” theory, and the cultural studies approach to looking at media. 

I think there is MUCH validity in this approach, about how people construct their identities via media images and texts by taking them on and sometimes re-interpreting them to fit into the who they want to portray themselves as. I know this is a sweeping generalization about the theory and that it overlooks the intricacies that to some, made this approach lacking in comprehensiveness. But this version of media theory is the one that resonates most deeply with the way I am looking at media right now. 

Reminded me of my most favorite scene in Mean Girls, where Lindsay Lohan’s character is looking out over the lunch room cafeteria and grouping the school cliches, and they come to “Asian geeks” and then “cool Asians.” That’s cultural self- (some would say imposed) identification overdone in a nutshell. Loved the generalization and the semi-truth in how her character comes to see the school social order.

New Rules for the New Economy

The distinguishing characteristic of networks is that they contain no clear center and no clear outside boundaries. Within a network everything is potentially equidistant from everything else. Therefore the first thing the network economy reforms is our identity. The vital distinction between the self (us) and the nonself (them)–once exemplified by the fierce loyalty of the organization man in the industrial era–becomes less meaningful in a network economy. The only “inside” now is whether you are on the network or off.

via kk.org

I don’t like that it’s an all or nothing spectrum for identity – but to some extent, that’s what it is: you are either “of” a group, or you are “not”, there is no middle ground. 

But with the ability in the digital era to self-identify with so many different social groups at the click of a button, I think it will be easy to belong to many networks, but not be deeply integrated or involved with many of them. What does that say about our identity, but that it may be shallow? or perhaps it’s that we shouldn’t really posit our understanding of ourselves and the portrayal of ourselves in the reflection of self via the networks but in other social groups. Just what those groups would be, I need to think more. But I think I’m moving towards the idea that only identifying who I am through online groups or texts or via the web is not a GOOD thing, that I want to exist in the “real” world, though increasingly, we are quantified and identified by our data and habits rather than by the individual WHO that we actually are. 

Does that make any sense?

Shades of Gattaca in that paragraph.

Only some strips of reality: question from class

Strips_of_reality

PROF’s question in class, based on Arjun Appadurai’s “strips of reality” concept: If people could see what and how you engage with media, what would that tell them about who you are, about what you value? 

MY ANSWER: a limited, fractional view about who I am and what I value

RATIONALE:  People can perceive a limited sliver about who I am based on media usage and engagement, at least, so far in my life. My professional life is not completely public like some tech personalities (i.e. Kevin Rose, Pete Cashmore) whose professional accomplishments and activities are documented and followed by many people on the web.  Neither is my personal life, and what facets people may read or see about me are still only tiny “strips,” which taken piece-meal, give a very skewed version of “me.”

Example #1:

I posted something a fews weeks ago on my personal blog about watching HBO’s True Blood and following some blogs and podcasts about the show. I also started following one of those blogs on twitter.

Based on these facts, someone may conclude that I am a vampire freak and goth and really into horror and blood and sex.  

Example #2:

On FaceBook, I “like” a Baptist church group in Burnaby. Based on this affinity, someone may conclude that I am a Bible-thumping, right wing fundamentalist Christian. 

 

More and more on the web, people have public and private versions of selves, though the younger generation are seemingly more careless, or are still figuring out what those distinctions are. In consideration of this new reality that we work and engage in, I am conscientiously piecing together a more realistic, holistic public self by updating my LinkedIn profile, paying attention to what I write in the “about me” sections of various social and blog sites, creating a personal landing page (flavors.me) where I can choose what public pages about me people can link to and find if they care to, and by carefully reviewing and tweaking privacy settings on other sites. 

But I am aware that my public self is also somewhat constructed, since I am selecting what I want to make known.  I mean, people can always try and dig up dark and secret things about people or even falsify them. But to the extent that I can control what is put out on the net about me, the more I can feel okay about the line between private/public and about which “strips” get known.