Web Presence

I really understand that I should have a positive web presence.  I know that people want to google my name and find out exactly who I am and what I stand for.  But the truth is, I’m a little nervous about that, since we  live in a country that feels like it’s getting closer and closer to a civil war.  I don’t want to be labeled as a certain kind of a person, or a radical, liberal teacher, or a hippy.  I want people to know me, not put me in a box.

So now I’m considering creating myself—putting up a store front.  Do I really want to portray a person who is totally flat and one-sided, so that I can get a certain job or get in with a certain group of people? Can you imagine what I’d have to do if I wanted to run for public office?  I was discussing this with a friend and he ended his conversation with me with this quote, “But it’s the life we are in.”  

Not long ago in Anchorage there came a new superintendent.  He was very rigid and came with the attitude that he was going to clean up Dodge.  He must have had a cowboy hat.  Anyway, he instituted the questionnaire for all teacher applicants.  I don’t want to work full time, mind you, I just want to help out where I’m needed.  I saw, in that questionnaire, great risks of putting each teacher into a box that could be quantified.  I haven’t been invited to apply for any positions since I filled it out and I can’t go back and edit it.

My husband says it’s a good thing.  I wouldn’t want to work with someone who I don’t want to work for, but on the other hand…….there’s a lack of diversity for kids and parents to choose from as teachers within that school.

So basically that questionnaire has become a metaphor for my web presence in the world.  People get to judge me before they meet me.  How can I make a balanced picture of who I am and still be honest and open?  I started looking at storefronts for inspiration. 


This store front doesn’t tell you anything about what’s inside.  It’s safe, except no one will ever check it out.








Now this is a store I’d visit.  There are all sorts of treasures in there.  Would everyone go in there?  Probably not.  But at least you know what’s inside before you go in.



Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 8.11.44 AMSo this store front is a little nicer than the last one.  Maybe I’d get a richer clientel.  The name is catchy and it is pleasing to look at.



Lastly, this store front is for fancy rich folks.  It begs for a certain type of customer to come in.  It is exclusive.


So, what if you put up a storefront like this?  What would happen?  Who would give it a shot?  Only a certain type of person, right?  Or maybe just curious type of people.  I like curious types.  So what does this kind of a web presence look like on a web page?


Already “big brother” can find out where I’ve been on the web and which sites I’ve looked at.  What if I had been to the ‘communists for peace’ web site?  What would that say about me?  What if I had wanted to research anarchy, so I could teach about the Haymarket Square bombing at the last turn of the century?  Who is out there judging me by where I go?  Very scarey!

Luckily I don’t have a bad history on the interwebs like my students might.   A girl who I had in class a few years ago  comes to mind.  She went in the girl’s bathroom across from my classroom and had her friend take a topless picture of her so she could post it to her boyfriend who was sitting in my classroom!  8th graders are stupid and have no awareness of the future.  There are some great vids out there for teachers to show to their students, but is that enough?  This girl could always have that on her internet history now.  Now that I think about it, there are stupid adults too (Anthony Wiener).  Maybe we can get over our own stupidity?  Let’s see if Wiener gets reelected.

So, yes, I can manage my web presence with a little bubble over my head playing the movie of 1984, but who would have thought that Big Brother would turn out to be virtual?  Who would have thought that we’d live in a society like communist Russia where we can spy and tell on our neighbors?  It’s a strange world we live in. I see absolutely no possibility of having a private and a public identity, unless you keep a hand-written journal under your bed and write in in every night like my grandmother did.

And then I think about my grad students.  Two of them refused to make a web page or a blog or anything with their real name on anything.  They were in an on-line course!  One turned all of her stuff in under a fake name via email and posted under a fake name on the class blog.  She was UBER aware of the problem and decided to solve it that way.   The other student of mine was a lot younger and I was surprised he wouldn’t post anything publically, but his was for a different reason.  He didn’t want anyone to know he was taking a permaculture course.  That would brand him as a hippy.  He told me if his office found out, he’d get harassed and perhaps demoted.  So I made exceptions for him as well.  He was totally aware of his web presence and did not want to “rock the boat.”  That really amazed me—he’s intentionally keeping himself flat.  

Do I really want to do that? I was reading on the interwebs in a teacher blog about that very thing.  Here’s what Daniel Dage had to say to me:  

I voluntarily darkened my blog thinking that might help my cause, but it was too late. Silence never garners much respect, especially after being so vocal.  So I made a decision about what sort of world I wanted to live in; one where creativity and original thought is welcomed, or one where such endeavors are regarded with suspicion.”  

Intellectually I so agree with that, but I’m also the teacher who was blasted on talk radio in Fairbanks for corrupting the kids out at North Pole.  So, I’m really leary.  How much ammunition should I  supply those who want to throw virtual tomatoes?

So how shall I do it?…..I will take the next logical steps one day at a time, right? I’ll attempt to have a mulit- dimensional, interesting, open presence on the web for people to find.  I will attempt to not be so safe that I’m FLAT and one dimensional.  (Side Note: I could come up with a FLAT CINDEE book and have it teach web presence to little kids so they know how to market themselves from a young age.)  But I will seriously attempt to continue being honest and open about myself and my beliefs, while building openness into my web presence, so that others might know that I value their opinions, flaws, and things that make them uniquely human.  🙂

I’m ready to seize the day!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM6VcGCN6UI



Hargadon, Steve, and Daniel Dage. “Re: Thinking About Your Personal Web Presence (PWP).” Web log comment. Http://teacher20.com/. N.p., 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://teacher20.com/forum/topics/thinking-about-your-personal-web-presence-pwp?page=1&commentId=873527%3AComment%3A75835&x=1#873527Comment75835&gt;. 

Newsies Seize the Day . Perf. Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall. Disney, 1992. Film. YouTube. YouTube, 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM6VcGCN6UI&gt;.

White, Charlie. “Mashable.” Protecting Your Online Reputation: 4 Things You Need to Know. http://www.kbsd.com/, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2013. 



3 comments on “Web Presence

  1. This is going to be an abbreviated repost of my initial response that didn’t get posted, probably because I didn’t see the equation Captcha element.

    I like your narrative very much–particularly the way you lead the reader through your nicely considered thought process from initial fear of being online to cautious optimism. I find it interesting that people equate the easy availability of personal information with the advent of the internet, when in actuality accessibility of much of the information that identifies who you are, where you live, and what you like to do predates the internet by many years. The internet makes it easier to locate that information, but items like where you live and work, your phone number, your property holdings, court judgements, and items written or said about you in public forums have always been easily available to anyone who cared to look. Simply retreating into a hole somewhere doesn’t eliminate that information from being accessible. In the same way, simply staying away from social networking doesn’t prevent someone from tagging photos of you, writing about you, or sharing information about you that is already public. In my opinion, the best defense is a good offense. The more that an individual works in the open and consciously maintains a positive web presence, the less likely it is that people will discover those tagged images as they make up a smaller and smaller percentage of the sum of your online presence.

    There are a couple of visual elements in your post that deserve some additional attention. I like your inclusion of images to illustrate your observations, but their layout is confusing and, in the case of my screen (and the screen shot that I sent you yesterday) there are overlapping text captions, strangely formatted paragraphs, and large empty spaces caused by the way the images were incorporated into your text. It may look acceptable on your monitor, but the theme you chose varies its width according to the viewer’s monitor, and it’s like different than yours. Two ways to fix this: insert each image on a line by itself–no other images or text–and caption each image on the next line. That’s the simplest way. You could also use a table to insert images and text side by side, but that usually involves adding a table layout plugin to WordPress and it might not be worth the effort. (There’s an example of that on my online vita page at http://skipvia.com/?page_id=186. The dates and text are in different table cells and the formatting is done through the plugin.)

    The other element–and this is a personal preference more than anything–is your link to the Newsies video. In your post, you reveal the entire URL–lots of meaningless text and numbers to most people. I generally feel that links within the body of a post should be text or image links–i.e., instead of revealing the link, you might make the phrase “I’m ready to seize the day!” the link. Alternately, you could actually embed the video itself into your blog. This is your call whether or not to change this. (Note that URLs in the References section need to be revealed in their long form according to APA guidelines, which you have already done. In a blog, I think it’s appropriate to actually make those URLs active links so that a reader can click and go rather than copy/pasting the link or typing it themselves. Again, just a personal preference.)

  2. I really like your post, very though provoking. I never really thought about only presenting myself as flat or one dimensional. I mainly worry about making sure that I don’t put anything I don’t want people to know out there. I did like the way you represented it in picture form. I love the background picture of your site. But, the way the individual posts are translucent is not my favorite. I find it really hard to read and hard on my eyes.

    • Thanks, Lynn. I’m trying to figure out how to fix that without losing the background.

      Just curious—-what don’t you want people to know? I’m trying to decide where my boundaries are and if I don’t have any….that’s bad. I often write in my blogs like I’m writing to my best friend. Hmmmm. Still thinking on this web presence thing.

      Glad to see you here!

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