Everytime I listen to a keynote speaker, there is an air of inevitability conveyed. You know, it usually is along the lines of Sylvia Martinez’ words at GenYes Blog, “This is a floodgate well and truly open, whether or not you declare it closed.” Not unlike those speakers, I also find myself sending a message similar to the ones below…it’s worth reflecting on the implications of expressing such an air of inevitability:

“No, parents don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better quit trying to close the door on it.”
“No, teachers don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better work in like yeast into the bread of everyday instruction.”
“No, administrators don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better use it for data collection, reporting, disaggregation and analysis to improve student achievement.”
“No, students, you don’t have a choice. As your parent, I bought you this mobile phone or this interactive white board, and I expect you to use it.” And, so they do.

I don’t like inevitability…it conveys a lack of choice. So does the word “inexorable.” If something is inevitable, it’s coming no matter what. Inexorable implies relentless progress. What we need is a profound shift in our thinking. It’s no longer about not having a choice, but having boundless possibilities. Yet, what you do with what is possible for you reflects upon you, as does public perception of your decision. Consider the following information from Reputation Management and Social Media Report:

More than half (57%) of adult internet users say they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006. Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.

Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share. “Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Madden.
Source: Reputation Management and Social Media by Mary Madden and Aaron Smith, 05/26/2010

How do you perceive the Internet? Will you share information about yourself or limit yourself?

In reviewing this report, I wonder about my teenage daughter. Is her reluctance to publish her work online, as well as her deletion of her Facebook account, stemming from:

a) Her traditional instruction that jealously refuses to publish work online for fear someone will steal the ideas and their expression?
b) Her desire to safeguard her personal and life details
c) A desire to keep her technology use social, as opposed to academic.

It is choice C that bothers me the most. Is it possible that our children are learning that technology use is social, as opposed to academic? My child is a creator but only creates on paper. As I point out to her, is that going to cut it when you have so many–including children–already creating and posting their work online?

When I read Dave Fleet’s points in a blog entry entitled, How To Ruin (Or Build) Your Personal Brand, I found myself slowly doing a quick check of my own online reputation. How would I score?

I’ve re-ordered Dave’s points into ones I found to resonate the most with me:

  1. Follow your passion; be yourself – My passion is anything at the intersection of leadership, technology in education, and writing. I’ve tried to be myself in these blog entries, although I often wonder, have I been TOO much myself? 
  2. Be willing to fail – This is critically important. Some people won’t write or try something for fear of failure, embarrassment. I can honestly say, failure is a key aspect of learning, writing and blogging.
  3. Define Your goal – This is something that I’ve been criticized on. If I were to focus on ONE topic, that would make Around the Corner a “killer blog.” What folks don’t realize is that my focus when I started the blog was to share what I was learning, and I have to learn a lot of different things that are relevant to the work I’m about and my interests. Funny, huh? If I have an over-arching goal, it’s learn and share.
  4. Under-promise; over-deliver – This is one that isn’t hard. I never made a promise to my readers about what I would deliver. I don’t have to deliver anything some days, nor do I feel obligated to do so.
  5. Kill people with generosity – Gee, I hope that has happened. I hope people have found what is shared useful for THEIR work.
  6. Find a mentor – If I had to claim mentors, I’d probably pick on BlueSkunk Blog (Doug Johnson) since he is one of the oldest folks I know about (smile). I sure appreciate being able to give him free rein to pick on me while he’s teaching me something by being himself. Of course, there are so many mentors online that are available to learn from.
  7. Network like crazy – Well, you be the judge of my network.
  8. Be a sponge/say yes – I’ve had real trouble with this. I’m having to say NO more often to outside projects so I can focus on a few. I’m a workaholic, but I guess I’m getting more selective in my collaborations. That’s dangerous, I suspect, now that the world is all about collaboration. As such, I need to grow seriously in this area.
  9. Build your brand before you need it – This is very true. I have a brand, I’m just not sure what brand it is. I hope that the brand says, “This is reliable, offered in openness and transparency with no hidden agenda.” You’ll have to tell me.

Wes Fryer, sharing his passion for StoryChasers, points out the following:

Never underestimate the power of WORDS and the importance of helping others become AUTHORS…We all have stories to tell, and stories to which we have unique access that deserve the opportunity to be shared with others. Whether writing text, recording audio, or creating video, we can ALL now have access to a powerful set of documentary and publishing tools which our ancestors could scarcely imagine.

Want to manage your reputation? Do something worthwhile and share it online with as many as may want to subscribe to your work! Perhaps, the word isn’t inevitable…it’s inexorable.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure