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Building Extension's Public Value with Tweets?

This week for the Extension 2.0 web course we are exploring web-based instant communication, such as IMs, chats, and Twitter. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon (again!), I am having trouble seeing the importance of instant communication for the BEPV program. One idea that appears in this article is to Twitter a conference (follow all Twitters related to a conference). I could see this being helpful to remind people when and where a workshop is being held, encourage attendance, and receive feedback.

I have an overarching question about all of the photo-sharing, social networking, and communication tools: How does one employ these tools for professional purposes and still separate one's work and personal lives? From my observations of Twitter, for instance, a lot of people do not maintain that separation: their Tweets are equally about their work and personal activities. But what if I think that my mother doesn't need to know when I've updated my curriculum, and my colleagues don't care what I had for lunch? If you use Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr, for example, to keep up with friends and family, do you create separate accounts for work-related communication? I can see myself either getting overwhelmed trying to update too many sites, or trying to keep things simple and "oversharing" with my professional colleagues.

A curmudgeon


Hey, Carmudgeon.

I use twitter (username esagor) quite a lot, for both personal and professional communications. Most of my contacts there are more related to my work (the social media / communication technology part of my work) than my friend network. None of my friends are on Twitter either... :-(

About separate accounts for personal and professional communications, obviously some are more comfortable sharing personal info than others. So far, I say forget it, it's not worth the time to have two accounts. But if more of my purely professional contacts were on board, that might change.

This is easy to manage though, at least for some social media sites. On Flickr all of my forestry photos are public so anyone can see them. But all of my family photos (or most at least) are available to friends only. So I decide for each contact how much info to share with them.

You can do the same thing with limited profiles or privacy settings on FB, but I haven't really gotten into that.

Almost forgot: This post on Web Worker Daily has some really interesting (and IMHO a bit overblown) thoughts on the personal / professional divide.

Thanks, Eli. My favorite quote from that article is this: "Web surfing fertilizes and seeds the soil of the mind." Don't we all want to believe that? :)

Rae Montgomery (http://blog.lib.umn.edu/rae/blogdog/) had an interesting take on Twittering a conference--she attended a conference and then later looked up the related tweets and found them to have a lot of info wrong. Proves you can't listen and tweet? Thanks for doing Week 9!

Hey Laura, me again. I've been thinking about the personal / professional split since reading your post, and I think I want to change my answer. I commented last week that I like the idea of combining them rather than having separate accounts.

I still like that idea but am thinking more and more about creating separated, dedicated accounts for personal and professional content. Why? Maybe it's election season that's got me thinking, but knowing that a lot of coworkers may read my stuff makes me hold my tongue (fingers?) when I'd like to vent.

Doing so could alienate professional contacts or hurt my professional reputation. Not doing so misses an opportunity to exchange ideas with friends.

I haven't created any new accounts yet but am thinking about it.... Glad you raised the question.

Eli, in this day and age, when we are all Googlable, I agree that it requires some extra effort to protect one's reputation and not offend professional contacts. I certainly have seen some professional writers struggle this year with the decision of whether to "come out" with their political affiliations on their blogs. My inclination is to have separate personal and professional networking accounts, but the potential timesuck of updating worries me. Maybe having a set schedule (one or two specified days a week) for updating a professional blog/Facebook account/Twitter account would make it manageable.