My Professional Online Presence

The day is finally here. I have held out for as long as I could, but knew that I would have to give in eventually. Not only have I created my own blog but I also have a Twitter account. Previously I had a Facebook page and tried my hand at starting a blog and a tumblr, both of which failed when I realized how boring my life is. I deleted my Facebook when it was revealed that Facebook was not being careful with their users’ data and personal information. So how did I end up with my own domain name and a Twitter?

It is vital for anyone in the field of digital history, be it a new grad student like myself or an established historian, to have an active online presence. It is how digital historians communicate with each other and stay up-to-date with the goings-on in the field. The readings for this week strongly emphasized how important it is to have a place for yourself on the web. In class, I brought up the point that none of the readings addressed privacy concerns and how the various sites collect user information. Dr. Robertson responded that there is a difference between visibility and privacy. For me, the important distinction will be how to be visible without being too personal. I strongly value my privacy and don’t want everyone with an internet connection to know all of the details about my personal life. But I can – and must – divulge information about my professional life.

When I Googled “Alyssa Toby Fahringer” prior to starting this blog, the only correct hit I could find was a link to the Fall 2013 Southern Association of Women Historian’s newsletter, in which I am named as a new member. After searching the first five pages of links and the image results, I could not find other accurate information about myself. Now, of course, when I Google my name there are links to this blog and my about page. When I Googled “Alyssa Fahringer” I found links to my LinkedIn profile and my small section of the American Library Association’s Connect site. Further down on the first page of results, there is a link to a LibGuide I made in library school. Apparently there is an Alyssa Fahringer living in Pennsylvania who is an accomplished athlete. There were links to her information in the White Pages and her profile on Shippensburg University Athletics. Within the first five pages, the following is the only correct information I found about myself:

  • Graduate in the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool August 2013 recognition ceremony
  • My assignment to a group project for my Terrorism class at VCU
  • A brief blurb in The Rotunda, Longwood University’s newspaper
  • On the roster for the Model United Nations club at VCU
  • On the Honor Roll in high school
  • Results of a 10K I ran almost 10 years ago

Luckily I was not in any of the image results. A week or so ago, I would have been proud of my relative lack of presence on the internet, but now I see how important it is for me to have a professional visibility online.

Apart from Google search results, I have a LinkedIn profile that badly needs updating. I also edited it so I am now listed as Alyssa Toby Fahringer rather than Alyssa Fahringer. I had not heard of prior to doing the readings for this week, so I will have to create a profile on their site. Coincidentally, one of the digital historians I follow on Twitter tweeted this morning about creating her Academia profile.

And speaking of Twitter, I found several institutions, publications, professional organizations, and historians to follow. While I do not think it necessary to track all movements one might make during the day (I do not care when you are brushing your teeth or grocery shopping), I think it will be a useful medium to keep me informed. For all of my griping, I have a feeling I will like Twitter more than I will admit.

So this is my attempt to start having a professional online presence. Welcome to my little corner of the internet.

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