‘Reputation management’ is a familiar enough idea to university academics. After all, professional profiles are built and careers developed mainly through publications, citations and conference papers, all essentially indicators of how peers rate the quality of our work.
However few are as aware of the equal need for ‘virtual’ reputation management’. As Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media become increasingly ubiquitous even in academic circles, Theo Lynn at the Diverse 2011 conference underlined the need to be aware of our digital footprint and what it says about us. As a snapshot, type in your username to namechk to see just how many social networking sites you are on, you may be surprised. You may be equally surprised how open some information is. Facebook, maybe because it is so popular remains the main point of concern. Openbook for example allows anyone to search public information on Facebook, and it is surprising how indiscreet some users are, especially given cases such as the US Teacher Fired Over Facebook case. The teacher wasn’t a particularly heavy Facebook user and according to Dr Lynn this it is this group of professionals, especially in the 26-55 age group who are most at risk. The audience was advised to immediately try to protect your Facebook account.
We were also shown some fascinating tools to track your online footprint, including webmii that collects online public information about you (and other people), klout which gives you an ‘online influence’ score based on your tweeting and so on. These could be used for example to monitor the online impact of projects and research initiatives.