The Internet and the Towne Centre

What is personal and what is private in a world where online is everywhere?

Today, one of our Five Weeks participants wondered aloud how we keep our personal and professional life separate online. My answer was, you don’t.

You can, of course, omit parts of your life online, but once you put any part of your life into the internet tubes, it will be found by people you never thought would think to find you. If you only put professional stuff online, people in your personal life will find it. If you put your personal things online, your coworkers will eventually find it. That is the nature of the world we live in.

If you are uncomfortable with people knowing your business, then do not share that particular business online. People will only know the secrets you put online for others to see. If you would not do it in public, do not do it online.

Online is the new town square; it is where the world goes to hear the town crier yell the news of the day, where we go to buy our goods, where we meet friends, conduct business, and gossip.

I think that this makes some people very uncomfortable. It is disconcerting the first time you write something and publish it online, for all the world to see. It is sometimes like walking through the town square naked, but participating online also means you are part of the community. There are benefits to putting a part of yourself online, to showing your human side.

Libraries can do this too. By exposing our human sides in the town square, we can cease to be the monolith and be the meeting place of the community, online and off. This past week, Michael said that 2.0 means being human, being real. Presenting yourself or your library online in an authentic way can have many unexpected rewards, not the least of which is a better relationship with those around you and with those you serve.

–Jane, is romping in the new town square