Monday, June 12, 2006

The competition for internet domination continues...

Google or MySpace? Who is your money on for internet overlord? (and for chuckles, who do you think has better security?)

In the red corner... Google is moving to compete with eBay with an online auction offering that sports the spectacularly innovative name 'GBuy'. (yes, that was sarcasm) If not successful, I forsee a plethora of 'g'bye' jokes in their future. If it is successful, maybe the next new Video Professor title will be Introduction to GBuy (sorry, but I think the fact that there was demand for a class on how to use eBay is the saddest thing I've ever heard. It's eBay people. How hard is it?)

And in the blue corner... MySpace is trying to attract the LinkedIn and crowd by adding MySpace Careers. This isn't necessarily a terrible idea... for those compelled to publicly display their popularity and social connectivity by creating accounts on MySpace, Friendster, and LinkedIn, this could be a chance to merge multiple online identities, cut down on accounts and passwords to remember and manage.

On the other hand, for people who don't want their personal and professional lives to bleed into one another, this isn't really any help at all. More and more recruiters and hiring managers are looking up job candidates online (both in MySpace and through your garden variety googlestalking) and using the information learned in their candidate profiles and interviews. Which if you've maintained a wholly professional online profile isn't a problem. But if you and your college buddies put up pictures of your latest keg party and get comments on your profile from the girls you partied with this weekend about what a stud you are, you might not want the general manager for one of the big 5 accounting firms you just applied at seeing you extra, uhm, happy, out at the club with your posse and getting the impression you're just a party animal boozer who is going to be late due to hangovers on a regular basis. And it isn't just the party animals that worry about identifying their personal lives to potential employers. Use your personal blog to connect with other members of your spiritual community? Discuss your kids latest adventures and your wish to adopt more kids from overseas? All personal details that aren't relevant to a job, but can still color someone's impression of you as a job candidate.

As always, the topic of identity interests me. Personal, professional, public, private. How can one effectively firewall their personal and professional identities? How do you handle things when your worlds collide? And what happens if your personal identity is best kept anonymous from family, neighbors and employers, but some of the people in your personal circle are also in your professional circle? Sure, a lot of people on planet earth only have one identity and the idea of having more than one is shocking and alien to them, something only a criminal would do. But many people have found that it is easier to fit into mainstream society if they isolate their personal pursuits from their employer, colleagues, and customers. You'd be amazed how many doctors and lawyers are swingers or into BDSM. Yes, your mild mannered dermatologist might like getting freaky on the weekends in leather and submission games, and you'd never guess it.

Obviously it is challenging when your personal and professional relationships start overlapping, and even harder when some of those identities cross the public/private barrier. Thus the need for pseudonyms, to help protect personal identity - and not just in the online world, this happens every day in 'real' life too. But how many identities are too many to have? How to you truly maintain anonymity if needed in one or more? And what happens when you start to have an identity crisis, unsure which one is the real you, which one takes priority over the others? I have friends struggling with this very issue every day, mediating internal debates between conflicting personas that are chafing at co-existing and resisting a life of eternal compromise. All outstanding future discussion topics for the blog seeing as this didn't start off as a post about identity but about new internet properties from two of the big internet players on the scene today. :)

Coming soon: In the immortal words of Pete Townshend, ‘Who are you?”


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, maybe you'd never know it...

9:42 PM  

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