Public exposure

Wednesday Jeff Jarvis released an excerpt from his upcoming book Public Parts, which examines how technology has influenced what he calls “publicness,” and how our changing perspective of privacy can positively effect our lives as individuals and professionals.

I posted about Jarvis last week, who’s recently become one of my favorite media critics. He regularly posts to his blog, buzzmachine.com, with really interesting perspectives on the mainstream media and its future.

I’ve been really excited about this book since I first heard about it a few months ago because publicness is something I’ve really had to consider as a young professional—what do I share? And how does what I share affect my reputation as a writer and individual?

“Private and public are choices we make: to reveal or not, to share or not, to join or not. Each has benefits, each hazards. We constantly seek a balance between the two—only today, technology brings new choices, risks, and opportunities.” — Jarvis

The idea that all of my social media profiles can “brand” me is all at once daunting and exciting. The opportunity to use online social tools (like this blog, or my Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+) to create a very visible, searchable online footprint of my work is really thrilling.

I see my profiles as an opportunity to portray myself in ways that can’t be conveyed in a quipy cover letter or single page resume. My Twitter, for example, isn’t just about who I follow or what I tweet—it’s also about how engaged and responsive I am to my online community. My LinkedIn has become a malleable, organic resume that I can use to connect to my peers, groups and other professionals. And this blog has become a 24 Hour Fitness for my voice as a writer, a kind of safe space to work out my brain’s writing muscles.

Each profile or page gives a different perspective to my work as a writer/reporter, as well as my opinions and interests as a regular ol’ civilian.

Although only pieces may get posted to each specific page, the conglomeration of all of my profiles paints a very accurate, honest picture of my life as both a young professional and an individual. Altogether, my profiles simply reflect everything I’m up to and the line between professional and individual is virtually non-existent.

The difference between myself and many of my peers here at the J-School (and, more generally, folks my age that have had social profiles for years and are in-tune with the online cultural norms) is that I’m deliberately sharing honest notes about myself with the intention of putting myself in a position where my public self must be honest.

I’ve designed my web presence will full-transparency in mind, and I’ve built my social footprint on the reputation of honesty and publicness.

In Public Parts, Jarvis argues that this publicness is where we’re all headed. Companies, media outlets, individuals and governments—in some way, we’re all in a position where we have to decide our own publicness.

But does it work? Is the reputation I’ve built on my work as a reporter and active participant in my online community going to land me a job, or make me a respected member of the journalism community?

Well, I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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