Since part way through last year, I have been working on leveraging control over both my digital identity and digital self. This has included closing a number of accounts, redesigning my home page, this blog, and leaving Facebook again. It has entailed making some tough decisions about which social networks I will invest time into; which apps and services I am prepared to share my data with.
This process has, and continues to be motivated by two values:
First, it is important to own as much of your own data as possible. Too many of us invest time in various apps, networks and other online tools, without considering whether or not we will be able to get that data out, should we decide to stop using them.
Second, it is important to give mindful consideration to the information that you publish online, as this is how many people will form their opinion of you. For all intents and purposes, your digital self is like a brand. It needs to be cultivated and cared for. It is therefore, my intention to ensure that brand ‘James Michie’ is well cultivated.
It was with these principals in mind that I decided to move my ‘other’ blog ‘Et cetera’ from Posterous and integrate it with my main blog.
Twitter’s recent acquisition of Posterous, provided the final push I needed to make this move… one that I had considered doing last year. Do I think that Twitter is going to shut down Posterous? I am not sure but the signs are not great. Recent trends on the web would also suggest that either the service will fall into neglect or eventually close.
In making the move, I decided that it was also an opportunity to do some cleaning up. Before importing the blog, I removed any content which I felt did not fit in effectively with my main blog; this included the remnants of a failed #365 project and a few other posts.
If you were a subscribed to Et cetera, then please consider subscribing to this blog either by RSS or Email.
Owning your data and caring for your digital self is very important. Putting in, what I believe to be a reasonable amount of effort, has allowed me to take (greater) ownership of my data, and to better establish the version of my digital self that I wish for people to engage with. I encourage you to do the same.
2 thoughts on “Cultivating a brand (caring for your digital self)”
On owning your own data I am in agreement. While I use a *lot* of cloud services I also make sure as many as possible of them let me get my data out, and back them up automatically to my own computer and disks.
As for referring to yourself as a ‘brand’, doesn’t that compound the idea that the social web is all about self publicity and self indulgence..?
I thought about whether or not to use the term ‘brand’ for a while but I feel that it is appropriate in the context. It is a word that has come to have a certain stigma attached to it, however, I use it here in the context of design rather than marketing/advertising.
I am suggesting that, like a brand image (or logo), a person’s perception of us is based on their interpretation of various features. Rather than logo, colour, fonts, etc, our digital self is constructed based on features like: Facebook updates, tweets, blog posts, photos, and videos; they all form part of our digital self.
If we choose to publish information online thoughtlessly, it is easy to put ourselves in a position where people will form misconceptions about us. The most well known brands remain popular due to the careful way they go about maintaining their brand image. I am advocating that we should take a similar approach with the information we choose to publish online.
We need to cultivate our brand image to reflect the way we want people to perceive us. The images I choose to publish, the fonts and colours I choose to use on my blog, the services I choose to use and not use all speak volumes about who I am.
This is the way in which I am interpreting and using the word ‘brand’. It’s not about self publicity so much as it is about having ownership and control over the way people perceive us. Is this self indulgent? Perhaps? However, I’d argue that it is necessary in a world where an employer, colleague or friend, is as likely to engage with the digital you, as they are with the analog you.