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

2 thoughts on “The Internet and the Towne Centre

  • February 1, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Thanks for this. I really believe that to whatever extent a person is comfortable they should experience the Town Square — and put themselves out there!

  • February 1, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    It’s at least a dozen years ago that I realized that my “personal” and “professional” lives had become completely blended. Technology frees me from the tyranny of the 5-day work week — sure, I do a lot of work on weekends, but I can also take a day off in the middle of the week to go to the museums, or to do things around the house or just to recover from being up until 4:00 in the morning playing guitar at Marty’s Bar. On my blog I try to write seriously about library issues, but I also write about my delight in my granddaughter, about the latest with my band, about how I feel about politics and life. It’s all part of who I am. Now I am always acutely aware that my mother reads my blog, many of the people who work for me read my blog, and many of the senior administrators at my university read it. So I weigh every sentence before I hit that post button. But I think it is important to be real, and to be complete. I believe it makes me a better library director, and certainly a better human being.

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