Monday, November 09, 2009

New Media

Here's a big change of subject, but something that has been on my mind. I have a question for all you folks who blog and/or use Facebook and Twitter. I do all three and am in a bit of a quandry over what to do with some of these media.

First, if you're on FB and haven't friended me, give me a holler. I'm actually quite a bit more active on it than I am here. I also have a twitter account (see the right) which I sometimes use and I sometimes don't.

The issue for all of these things is how much I "talk" about personal stuff and how much I talk about "professional" stuff. Back in the olden days when I first started blogging, one was advised in no uncertain terms NOT to talk about work stuff online (see Dooce). But now, I'm finding that folks are using blogs and FB and twitter to talk about work things.

Certainly, it's still not advisable to talk about office gossip online a la "Can you believe what an idiot so-and-so is?" or "I think X is dating Y." Although, really, that would qualify as both the most interesting and the most boring stuff depending on whether you knew so-and-so, X or Y or not.

But a lot of folks, and actually, a lot of my peers, are twittering and blogging and FBing about professional things. And none of them are blogging about social things, much less "mother" things.

So should I use my FB or twitter accounts to be more professional? (This venue is too far gone t all of a sudden be professional) And what would I talk about? We've already established that office politics are out. Do I twitter/FB about teaching or general professional activities throughout the day ("Am running SPSS now! Next I'll do confirmatory factor analysis! WOOHOO!")? About what I'm reading ("Information and communication technologies are cold media!")? About what I'm researching (No way on that--it's not peer reviewed and I don't want someone to steal my ideas, should any one of them be worth stealing)?

Some friends/colleagues post about things they've read in the NY Times, etc. But I figure my friends, should they be interested in such things, would have already read it.

My concern is that my colleagues are talking about smartypants stuff and I'm talking about poopie diapers (Christopher had a DOOZY today; it was like a volcano shooting out of his diaper and pants). I don't want to sound so "fluffy". And I actually do get really excited about my research and my work. I actually can do smartypants stuff myself. I just don't know why anyone would want to hear about that from a tweet. And all the good stuff about teaching ("Let's see, what do you need on the final to get a B in the class? Well, you got a D on the first exam. A D on the second exam. And a D on the third exam. Hmmmm, you need to score 457 on a 100 point test to get a B in this class." <--actual conversation from several years ago), I can't really do since I'm no longer anonymous on any of these venues.

I have few boundaries between my identity as a professor/research and my identity as a mother or as "Anita." I don't blog or tweet or update on my work not because I don't really get excited about it, but because I can't imagine that many other people getting excited about it. ("Woohoo!! Sense of virtual community! WOOHOO!! Comes from interactions and support! Is mediated by norms! Sanctioning hurts it! YEAH, BABY!!! Now, we're talking!!")

I don't know. Maybe now that I have tenure, when I go back to work I will twitter or blog a bit more about being a working mom. Maybe about the research process. Maybe some about what I'm doing. Or not. We'll see.

Do you twitter or FB with work colleagues? Do folks at work read your blog? How does that work for you?

Now, I'm going to go open the fridge door and hope that some sort of snack food has magically appeared in there from 30 minutes ago. I am SO HUNGRY. I am ALWAYS SO HUNGRY. And I did eat an avocado and nuts today already. And I finished up the hummus a few days ago and they were out of boiled eggs. I'm not a skinny minny by any means from all this bfing. But BOY AM I HUNGRY.


Matthew said...

I'm also a FB user and blogger (Twitter failed to launch for me) but I don't use them to communicate about work matters. In fact I try to disassociate FB/blogging from work as much as possible, and I have limited the number of colleagues who I have accepted as friends and refrain entirely from accepting current students as friends. FB is a hobby that I use primarily to write silly status updates (kind of a challenge in itself), the blog is strictly limited to documenting my travel experiences. Work exists separately from these things. However, on FB I appreciate it when others share interesting, thought-provoking ideas or websites (I don't read the NY Times much so those postings would be new to me - at least you'd have one fan there!).

T. Carter said...

I figure it's all open. When I post status updates on LinkedIn (or questions or whatever) 99% of the time its professional or semi-professional (volunteer stuff that's tangential to my work or somesuch); Facebook is 90% personal, but work creeps in; blog is mostly moribund, but also 90% personal; Twitter is more work (say 70%), but very sporadic -- if find it most useful when I'm at conferences or something.

I have some coworkers as FB friends, although most are on LinkedIn (especially those further afield in the company). The downside is that I self-censor some in both places when I might want to say "someone help me find another job, today!" or something similar.

The blog is interesting since I use my name on it, it's discoverable via Google. A few years ago, when the company I was working for was bought by another one, one of my new colleagues (who would be reporting to me in the new structure) mentioned finding and reading my blog ... I was initially a little disconcerted, but, hey, it's out there ...

In the end, I figure work is where I spend a whole lot of time and it's part of my identity, just as my kids and home life are. I can't really segregate them offline or line, so I try to keep aware of the possible conflicts -- no way I'm going to friend the CEO on FB or even LinkedIn, but if he subscribes to my Twitter feed or finds my blog, well, I'm not going to block him.

M said...

I just found your blog from a comment you left on Ask Moxie. I am expecting twins when my son will be almost 4 and am in shock (not on fertility drugs, not in the family) and panicking. So am looking for examples of other people making this work.

Delighted to read your entries, and wanted to post to encourage you to keep posting here (as opposed to FB and twitter), to help me hope for a manageable future. (My current job is uncertain, but I do intend to keep working as an engineer).

So selfish on my part, but there it is!