Thanks Katherine for inviting me along today.I’m going to talk to you today about something that I’m sure you’re all very familiar with: the social web. I’m going to talk about the way we use the social web – sites like Facebook – and the way we manage the impression of ourselves online. For some of you this won’t be anything new. The research I have done and the research done all around the world looking at how young people use the social web clearly demonstrates that many young people use the internet in really responsible, productive and even strategic ways. So for those of you that are already thinking about privacy settings and exerting a sense of control over your presence on the internet, great – I want to equip you with a broader knowledge on this topic, and maybe give you some new terms to articulate what it is that you do.For those of you who don’t really think critically about how you use social media, or what kind of content you share online, or who you Friend, I want you to reflect a little on some of this stuff and begin thinking more critically. Thinking through the implications of how you use the internet.So that probably sounds more serious than it is – I’m not here to tell you how to use the internet or to stop using social media. Quite the opposite, actually – I think the social web is a fantastic resource, a truly revolutionary way of connecting with each other and both consuming and producing culture. What I do want us all to do though is think more critically about how we use the internet.Before I go on, let me tell you a bit about me. I’m 27, and I’m a lecturer at Griffith University in the School of Humanities. I teach into a discipline called sociology which is all about studying society. Specifically, my area of expertise is how young people use the internet, which is why I’m here chatting to you today. When you’re an academic, aside from teaching, the other part of the gig is doing research, so I get to spend a lot of time talking to people about how they use sites like MySpace (back when it was cool) and Facebook, and I get paid to hang out in MMOs and to write about social network sites and to read what other people write about the internet. So it’s a fun job and I’m very privileged to have a job like this. I know a lot of you are probably thinking about heading to uni next year, and deciding on QTAC preferences and such, so for the record I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and Sociology, and now I teach into the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Communications and the Bachelor of Journalism at Griffith.
I want to get a quick indication of the kinds of sites you use. Does anyone not use Facebook?Most people will use YouTube to consume content, but how many people produce content on YouTube? Upload videos?How many using tumblr?LinkedIn?Instagram?Anyone still use MySpace?The point to make here, which you all know already, is that the social web is really diverse and complex. There are more sites and apps than we can keep track of, and each is often used slightly differently. There is no right or wrong way to use these sites, but social conventions have emerged around them. Friending randoms was much more acceptable on MySpace than it is on Facebook; YouTube has a really interesting confessional vlog dimension to it, but is best known for its viral properties; and we haven’t really even begun to properly understand tumblr yet – as a site for content sharing, and awareness building and digital activism. There is lots of really great stuff happening here, and it’s an exciting time to be contributing to and shaping the social web and the ways in which it is become enmeshed in our everyday lives. Internet memes are a great example of this. I won’t say much about these…Of course there are also negative things that happen on the social web. I did a bit of research before I came here today, and read an article in your student-run newspaper from back in March about how distracting the internet can be – and yes, it certainly can be! The other negative of course is the sad reality is that people can be horrible to each other. Wherever people are, the negatives will follow, and the internet is no different: bullying, predation, saying things that get you and others into trouble (with friends, parents, teachers, maybe the police, maybe future employers…) but I don’t want to focus on these negatives. You hear about the negatives all the time. I will share with you a story, not about anything too serious, but about an embarrassing moment…
I want to tell you a story about a guy I’ll call Max… [read extract]The embarrassing scenario described here by Max is a good example of how interactions on social network sites trouble the way we think aboutspace, in terms of ‘public-ness’ and ‘private-ness’. Max describes how easy it was to sometimes ‘forget’ about his actual (compared to his imagined) audience on Facebook, and how slippages like this one work to shape the way he manages his impression online. Later in the interview, Max explained that after this incident he was particularly cautious when it came to personal conversations on Facebook, ensuring they took place through a one-on-one IM conversation or via an inbox thread, visible only to the participants in the conversation rather than his broader network of Friends. What’s going on here is that Max failed to properly imagine who his audience was. He did know that in theory people could be reading what he and this girl were saying, but he didn’t really think critically about it. Because that audience was invisible, and not physically presence, he forget about them. This audience segregation failure made Max re-think what was appropriate for the sort-of-public, sort-of-not-public space of ‘the Facebook wall’, which he restricted to Friends only, but where, up until this incident, there was no regular imagining of that audience. In other words, Max previously didn’t consider exactly who had access to his profile – and the wall specifically – each time he posted to that wall or read a message posted there by one of his Friends. Embarrassing incidents like this one – embarrassing precisely because there was a failure in the way he managed his impression– helped Max to manage his presence on the internet more effectively…2 – When we enter into social spaces…
Managing identities on the social web:Audience segregation and impression managementBrady RobardsSchool of Humanities, Griffith Universityb.firstname.lastname@example.org@bradyjaybradyrobards.com September 2012 at Brisbane State High School
Today…• Who am I? What do I do?• Social network sites and the social web – Complexities and divergences• Audience segregation – From Goffman to Zuckerberg• Impression management – How and why
Social network sites and the social web STUDENT: Y U NO MANAGE IMPRESSION ON THE INTERNET?
Audience segregation• ‘The boys at work give me a lot of stick. Were all best mates as well as on Facebook... I remember I was having a conversation with a girl [on his Facebook wall], and yknow, she was dropping the “I love yous” and stuff like that, so my boss proceeded to print out my comments page and yknow, do like a little role- play re-enactment when I walked in [to work] the next day. So um, it was quite embarrassing, but yknow... you just have to laugh... I suppose when its happening you dont really think that everyone can read what youre saying’ (Max, 20).• Offline, it’s easy for us to manage and imagine (conceptualise) audiences. Online, presence isn’t so immediate, and it’s easy to forget.
In summary…1. What we do and say on the internet is persistent, and we don’t always have control over where our ‘digital traces’ go.1. Social media can be a powerful and productive tool, but it has to be managed. The way you think about your audience will determine how you manage that presence.1. Think critically about the best way for you to manage your own presence on the social web.
Managing identities on the social web:Audience segregation and impression managementBrady RobardsSchool of Humanities, Griffith Universityb.email@example.com@bradyjaybradyrobards.com September 2012