Digital Presence

Why is this important?
The question of how to establish the appropriate digital presence, particularly for graduate students, has been coming up in my experience more and more. It’s showing up on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s fora and in discussions with colleagues.

What does it mean?
What If Your CV is Not Enough? is a good beginning point for thinking and writing.

Problems with digital presence
As my regular readers know I have experienced a few issues with the conference posts I have published, which are certainly part of my digital presence.

I even tweeted, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, that I may give up blogging, because of the expectation/understanding that my blog can be molded by others to their desires. (DrDavisTCE: May 20: I am considering giving up blogging. My blog is MY space. What I blog about should be up to ME. Not whoever I blogged about.)

I have actually rewritten a post due to the misunderstanding of a beloved mentor who believed I would have no objection to changing a post to match the conference presenter’s preferences. I am, unfortunately, less than impressed with my old mentor’s understanding of the concept of freedom of speech as it applies to blogs.

Necessity for digital presence
You will be googled. You will be googled by the search committee, employers, deans, and future students.

I know senior faculty who google every applicant they are considering. Their premise is that if the people put information on the web, it’s in the public domain. We should all remember that everything we put online will be there for all to see, maybe even in many years. This is important for job searches, whether they be in academia or elsewhere. I am amazed at what people write on their webpages, even their professional ones.

from So you Googled me… on the CHE fora

Think about it
What comes up when they google you is something you need to think about. It is something I think that our graduate students need to think about particularly, as they are far more likely to have embarrassing posts up than the digital immigrants. It is something I think many academics do not consider.

Have you googled yourself lately?
Don’t just look up your name, but look at iterations of your name. If your name is unusual, look at more common spellings.

You may learn, as I did, that an award that I thought I won (and I did) was actually given to two people, since the two tied. Didn’t know that till I googled a misspelling of my name. The things you learn!

What should be done?

Before I went on the market, I bought my name as a domain name and created a pretty extensive website of research projects, events I was attending, a blog about my field, etc., not so much because I had something to say but because I really needed to control my Google presence. It seems to have worked, because several SC members commented on my website….

This is what I am going to recommend to friends and students trying to get full-time positions.

Related CHE fora threads
Perils of “the google”
The thread of search committee despair
Will search committee do an online search?

3 thoughts on “Digital Presence”

  1. As someone new to the job market, I appreciate this post. I have a teaching, blog (, but I write anonymously for this reason. While I consider my blog academic, insightful, and professional, I still worry about my current college and future employers “learning the truth.” Do you think it is “acceptable” for profs to have blogs today? Do you think search committees eliminate applicants if they find blogs they don’t like?

  2. Miss Kat, I would say that having an academic blog could be a plus. It was for me, since I am going to a “media positive” university.

    However, the whole tenor of the blog must be appropriate to the academic discourse, even if a bit less formal. I am not sure that your blog address matches that criteria. The folks googling you need to see that your content matches the persona you will present in the classroom.

    Absolutely my strongest feature (after teaching) for my present position was being technically savvy. I do not doubt that it will play a strong part in my new job as well.

  3. I’ve long wondered how to attach myself to the work I’ve done in the eyes of the faculty search committee and an academic blog seems to be the perfect fit. I’ve had visions this morning of a site my students can use to supplement the course and clarify foundational questions. That it will be attached to me when I’m ‘Googled’ is icing on the cake.

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