Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This Me, not *that* Me!

If what you are is what you eat, this day it seems who you are depends on who you meet. Or which identity you point them to.

Yesterday, I was grabbing some coffee and an eggel at Hugo Cafe, and started talking to a woman who worked at a large SaaS company in San Francisco. Since it was a company I was interested in we talked a bit about their business model, and then I asked her if I could shoot her a note on LinkedIn. To which she replied, "How about Facebook? I prefer that, since it is the most up-to-date."


Friends of mine on Facebook get to see updated pictures of my kids, with no relevance to my business life. Colleagues on LinkedIn get mapped to my "professional" self, with links to my blog, etc. On Facebook she would get the wrong Me.

Last week at the Consumerization of Software event a colleague was lamenting how he toned down his Facebook self, since you never knew who from his business life would stumble across it. Drunk pictures: gone. Fun stuff: 1/2 gone. Oh well.

Another colleague has slowed his Twitter use, since he really wants multiple channels. One for work, one for play. One channel simply doesn't work for him, and it is too bothersome to create multiple users (requiring, among other things, multiple email addresses).

I started to use Twitter to set my status in one place, and broadcast it to various networks. That was great for a few weeks until I understood Twitter's power as a messaging platform. Now I realize that I want to have conversations in Twitter, some that make no sense to my Facebook Friends. Options: de-link Twitter from my Facebook status, or limit my tweets?

With the explosion of social sites, we are stuck in a quandary: how to manage our several (or many) online selves? We struggle with this, lacking the grace that our children will inevitably have, born in an age of transparency. Here is what we clearly need:
  • A way to define our various selves
  • A way to manage content and information for each self
  • A way to push the relevant information to the appropriate networks, sometimes to multiple accounts on a network
  • No duplication of data (no one has time for this)
Oh, I have an elegant solution, by the way. I haven't decided whether to talk about it or just build it. Can anyone point me to a solution that exists out there already?

1 comment:

  1. I have no separation in my life between work and play, so I don't care if my coworkers see my baby pictures on Facebook. I also don't have an employer or any prospective employers, so I'm not worried about embarrassing myself (besides, as my former boss, you know how completely unemployable I am).

    I do sympathize with the problem, though. Your best bet might be to create two FriendFeed accounts (or two Yahoo! Pipes), daveatwork and daveatplay. You could aggregate all work-related sites like LinkedIn and your blog into your daveatwork FriendFeed account and all your fun-related sites like Facebook and Flickr into your daveatplay FriendFeed account. Then just distribute one FriendFeed URL or the other, based on which Dave you want to portray.