Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Check out my new website! Or: does Digital Identity matter?

At the end I have given up and have created my very own website:

I have been pondering the need of a website since long now, but I have always been refrained by two considerations:

  1. Does the fact that one has a website imply a certain level of narcism? 
  2. Are the advantages of having a website more relevant than the hassle of having to maintain it up to date?
I think I can answer with a 'yes' to the first question, there is a sort of narcissism  implied in it, but not more than the one of having a presence in any of the social network spaces (by the way, I do have a presence in most of them as well, just in case you were wondering!)
This consideration leads to the second point: which are the advantages of having a website? I think the most important one is to represent the strongest statement of your digital identity, meaning that if you build it in the right way, your own website will be the first thing that comes out when people google you. This might be trivial, but it could be of a capital relevance for your professional life, to promote your activities, your research, what you care the most.
The importance of taking care our own digital identity has been emphatically stressed by Melissa Terras in her now legendary plenary keynote address at the Digital Humanities 2010 conference in London (and I remember the shivers of horror when some of our most horrible websites where on display...) The news often report about people being less than careful in posting on FB or Twitter with horrible consequences for their professional life, therefore we have  to conclude the DI indeed matter an dthat, yes, the hassle is subsided by the advantage.

Oh, yes, the fact that King's has decided not to support staff web spaces any longer is also a contributing factor! ;)

So, which is my recipe for a good DI?

  1. Check what happens when you Google your name
  2. Make sure you control the first, say, 5 results that come out (and if not, make it happen!) and make sure that their content is what you want people to know about you
  3. If you have a website, make sure that it is valid according to W3C standards (my perfect recipe is XHTML strict + CSS2): if you are a DH person I don't need to explain why, right?
  4. If you have a website, make sure that it is usable and user friendly
  5. If you have a website, keep it up to date. If you have a blog, a twitter account, do the same. DI is terribly time consuming, but there is no escape.
  6. Remember: Twitter is not a private space! maybe you have that impression because you can chat to your mates as it was a private chat  or email, but it is not, definitely not, so don't post there what you don't want is read by your present/future boss
  7. Protect your privacy within Facebook: they seems to be changing the rules every fortnight, so keep alert!
  8. Be fair to your friends: if you make public a photograph of them they don't like, soon or later they might be tempted to do the same