This post is a response and reaction to the workshop I led on April 23rd at Fordham University, for a class of juniors and seniors, Your Online Presence: Google, Facebook, and Life Ahead. It is not a summary of the workshop, but instead my takeaways from it, particularly my suggestions and questions for anyone interested in leading a similar discussion.
Many DH-savvy people perhaps take for granted the idea of managing one's online profile -- we know that we will be Googled by other scholars, by potential employers, even by potential dates. As participants in DH projects, we often have content associated with our names that is readily available.
I think it is easy for us to forget, however, that not everyone is as interested in, or as aware of, their online presence: we may assume too high a level of awareness. I found, when I presented for a class of undergraduate juniors and seniors, that while most of them understood what an online "presence" consisted of, many of them appeared unconcerned about what it contained.
The idea, for example, that someone might lose their job over a picture of drinking posted on Facebook seemed horrifying and almost unbelievable to some of the students. The idea of generating content intentionally on sites like LinkedIn and a personal blog seemed foreign to many of them, and the idea of using social media professionally (or of employers using/searching Facebook, much less any other social media site) seemed, in some cases, to be quite a bit to swallow. Other students seemed to already be quite media-savvy, so it was a mixed group: I don't mean to imply that all of them were surprised.
My biggest question is this: How essential do you consider online presence management? Does everyone need to worry about this, or only those who are interested in pursuing a more digitally-oriented job?