Reflections at the end of #UOSM2008

Through interacting with this module I’ve vastly improved my interdisciplinary skills required for a modern, digital, professional profile. To this end, I’ve found the weekly discussions particularly valuable, exchanging great ideas with others.

At the start of the module, my online presence was mixed. I’ve had a Twitter profile, run a personal website and gown my LinkedIn profile. At the beginning of the module, I updated the profile description and photos to make it consistent with the rest of my online presence. As part of this module, I have made a conscious effort to use Twitter more, and this is really helped me reconnect with this social network, which I hope to continue with in the future.

Due to various organisations and groups I’ve been involved with in the past, my LinkedIn profile is quite mature. My profile is ‘all start’, containing all relevant information. Furthermore, with nearly 150 connections (and growing), I have a valuable asset for my future career as I leave university. Already I’ve seen the fruits of this labour, as I said in my blog post here.

My online presence is separated into two half, professional and personal, with boundaries between them. My professional profile is brought together by the website This site lists some of my skills and links to my LinkedIn profile, to provide authenticity as discussed during this module. Take a look at the video below that showcases my professional digital profile, including a demonstration of my QR code business cards.

A YouTube video demonstrating my professional profile (own creation)

In contrast, my personal profile is rather more ad hoc. I mostly use Facebook to connect with those I know personally. However, during this module, I have secured my privacy settings, in order to prevent this conflicting with my professional profile. Also, I have had a personal blogging site ( for many years. However, it is not very engaging as I haven’t posted for a long time. Therefore, I hope to use the blogging skills developed during the course of this module to post more regularly.


My personal blog is the top result on Google, on a public computer (own creation)


Finally, I also enjoy photography as a hobby. And for a couple of years, I have put those online on both a Facebook page (which I continue to grow and a website, However, during this module, I was inspired to make better use of Instagram, which has been very successful. The nature of this platform has allowed greater interaction with like-minded people.

Throughout this module, I have learnt valuable new digital skills, particularly in how I present information. Condensing a complex topic such as identity into 400 words each week, in layman’s terms, while at the same time writing a dissertation has been somewhat challenging at times. However, through the use of graphics, video and straightforward language, I’ve improved my ability to communicate complex information.

Skills Developed
An infographic summarising the skills I’ve learnt during #UOSM2008 (own creation)

All in all, I look forward to the opportunities that an authentic online profile will bring to my career. The digital skills developed in the module will only become more important in an increasingly digital world.

Word count: 500

Self-test after #UOSM2008

Rating at start of module Comments Rating at end of module Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information


4 Over the last few years of Web Science study, I have become competent in collecting and using a range of online information. However, there is still more that I can learn. 5 I have become much better at finding information, for a wide range of sources (now including other blogs and non-academic sources). I can evaluate the sources more thoroughly.
Participating in online communities



2 In the last few years I’ve not participated in many online communities. In the past, however, I have been part of several online forums. 4 The aspect of this module I have most enjoyed has been the discussions with others. Through these comment threads I have taken in a wide range of perspectives. I have also become better at using sources to justify my opinions.
Building online networks around an area of interest



2 I have various networks of online contacts. But I’ve not tried to build these around particular topics before. 4 Now I have written and interacted with others on a wide verity of challenging topics, I feel much better prepared to build networks such as these in the future.
Collaborating with others on shared projects



4 As part of my degree, we’ve undertaken several group projects. Also, when working over the summer I’ve worked with people all around the world using digital technologies. 4 Although this module isn’t entirely a group effort, unlike some which I have taken in the past, the collaboration skills required have been developed through the network of blogs. This is a valuable skill I’ll take forward in my career.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video)



4 I am a fairly competent user of various image, video and audio technologies. However, I am not an expert. 5 I’ve really worked on my use of diagrams and infographics for this module. Furthermore, the use of video is something I’ve attempted in my final post. These allow my content to engage much more than plain text.
Managing your online identity



3 My digital profile stretches over many different platforms and websites. But I’ve not put a huge amount of effort in being active on all of these or consistent over them. 4 Throughout this module I’ve worked on integrating my digital profile further. Part of this has involved locking down and separating my personal profile from my professional one.
Managing your online privacy and security



4 I have a strong cyber security background. But I’ve not spent a huge amount of time managing my own privacy. 4 As said above, I’ve increased the privacy of my own personal profiles.


LinkedIn Profile:

Twitter Profile:

Professional Website:

Personal blog:

Photography Facebook page:

Photography website:



Reflecting on Open Access

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s topic. It’s been fascinating exploring the issues that the Web brings to content producers, particularly academic publishing.

Jordan and I had a discussion on his blog, where I argued that paying to publish is unlikely to cost more, as it is a rarer activity than reading papers. Jordan made the point that journal access is an institutional cost, whereas publishing would be on a small group of authors.

I also had a great conversation with Patricia, where I said Open Access suffers from its infancy. She agreed, citing a successful OA journal (in the past). We talked about other business models, agreeing that smaller journals may struggle. One such model was micropayments, although this has struggled in mainstream newspapers. Finally, OA is great for reducing inequality in research.

Ji kindly commented on my post, questioning the quality of papers in OA. I postulated the feasibility of an independent reviewer, separate from profitable publishing. He also drew an interesting parallel to the music industry.  In the case of U2, there was a big backlash over free content. I argued it was a problem of choice, not free content – as agency was removed. Therefore, OA should ensure it respects consumer’s decisions.

Finally, Baby Boomer also joined in on my post. They talked about the ethical issues surrounding advertising in journals, including conflicts of interest, which I agreed with. Advertising merely demonstrates alternatives to ‘pay to publish’. Also, it was said that papers can currently be found in person, i.e. at the British Library. This is similar to ‘green’ OA, except it incurs travel costs. Furthermore, it is bad for transparency, as those who are merely ‘interested’ are unlikely to make the effort.

All in all, this has been a really fruitful discussion on a great final topic!

Word count: 300

Open Access: is academic publishing compatible with the Web?

The Web is a brilliant information resource, but only if producers share their context online. A noteworthy example is academic publishing. Scientists rely on being able to access other’s work, to provide a foundation for their work. However, this is done through publishing companies, who own the rights to the works in return for distributing it. Therefore, universities and others have to pay to access the papers required for their research. These paywalls create a system of ‘Harvards’ and ‘have-nots’ (see diagram and Hoffmann 2008).

Harvards have nots
The difference between ‘Harvards’ and ‘Have nots’ (own create with sources inline). Click to enlarge.

Removing these barriers are the aims of the ‘Open Access’ (OA) movement, as they are incompatible with the open nature of the Web. Furthermore, scientific work is a public good – as you consume a paper, others also benefit (as you are likely to use that knowledge in creating more).

A YouTube video that nicely explains the complex arguments around OA (Jorge Cham et al. 2012)

They advocate two phases of OA. Firstly, so-called ‘green’ self-archiving of papers in an open repository at the author’s institution (for example Eprints, developed at Southampton). Such archiving grants access free to the paper, as a supplement to a journal article. Such archiving increases citations (see graph), indicating an increased research impact. This could be because articles are available more quickly (Hanard 2003).

citation impact
A graph showing the increase in citations for papers using ‘green’ open access, across various academic disciplines. (Harnad 2008). Click to enlarge.

Also, they want to transform the publishing industry’s business model to a ‘gold’ one (see Newcastle University n.d.). This is where readers no longer pay to read, but authors pay to publish (out of their research grants). Hanard (2003) says that OA fully exploits Web technologies, as papers can be ‘citation-interlinked’; creating a ‘fully searchable, navigable, retrievable’ academia-wide repository.

However, OA is not perfect, and it raises problems. Firstly, publishers, who own the rights, aren’t the content creators. Therefore, what is best for the author (whether or not that is OA) often doesn’t align with publisher’s interests. Academic publishing is very lucrative (see The Economist 2012), and therefore, publishers are likely to resist change. OA relies on publisher’s “usage policies”, which define how papers can be used (SHERPA RoMEO tracks these at

President Bush mandated that research funded by US National Institutes of Health should be available via OA. However, this achieved a mere 4% compliance level (Suber 2008). This shows that the road to complete OA is long and winding. However, it seems inevitable that eventually publisher’s business models will change due to the Web (sites exist that share academic papers illegally). Should profit-seeking publishers be the ultimate curators of research knowledge?

An infographic explaining the different approaches to Open Access (own creation, with sources inline). Click to enlarge.

Word count: 400


Jorge Cham et al. 2012 “Open Access Explained!”

Harnad 2008, “Validating research performance metrics against peer rankings”

Harnad 2003, “For Whom the Gate Tolls?”

Hoffmann 2008, “Editorial: ‘Harvards’ and ‘Have-Nots’ on a Level Playing Field: Open Access as a Publication Model for Contemporary Area Studies”

Newcastle University n.d. “Green and Gold Open Access”

Suber 2008 “An Open Access Mandate for the NIH”

The Economist 2012 “Scientific publishing: The price of information” (apologies, ironic paywall)

Topic 4: a reflection

I’ve enjoyed learning, through reading and discussing posts, about the range of ethical issues everybody has tackled this week. From shaming and to net neutrality, this topic has highlighted the various the impacts that social media has had on society.

Firstly, I commented on Phil’s post. He talked about a tweet of an overheard remark. I asked if the existence of Twitter means that we must be more careful how we speak. He agreed this was a scary prospect. Rarely in history have people had an opportunity to share so widely. This lead on to ‘fake news’, to what extent is Facebook etc. a publisher? Also, will any such filtering be biased? Should Facebook, a profit-seeking company, be the truth arbiter? I suggested better education as a partial solution, particularly fact checking.

I also commented on Callum’s post, which summarised the issues around the digital divide. Again, this was a problem of education. Also, with ‘net neutrality’, Callum argued that it should be upheld. However, I suggested that prioritised traffic could allow more people to access the Web, reducing the digital divide. He agreed it was important, citing the ‘pacemaker Netflix’ example.

Kindly, Wei commented on my post. He highlighted how employment policies should be careful considered, as “employers and employees often have different views”.  Also, issues around the US having a disproportionate say on Internet governance. Furthermore, I argued that legal systems should better take into account technological change, such as social media.

Finally, on my post, Wil and I discussed the novel idea of using professional social media in the workplace. I pointed out that these are different as the employer decides to set up and regulate them. Wil also highlighted that technologies often have associated ‘unintended consequences’. Finally, the ways in which people choose to use technology has a significant role.

Therefore, at the end of another week, my understanding of an extensive array of issues has developed.

Word count: 321

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet: Social media in the workplace

A couple of weeks ago I talked about my tips for a professional online profile, which I hope you found helpful. Now you’re settling into your workplace, are you tempted to use social media? Surely you’d expect that it would be banned by your employer? Surprisingly, research has shown that only 51% of employees report being aware of such a policy, and 77% use social media at work regardless (Olmstead et al. 2016). Therefore, at least some are ignoring their employer’s policies, creating an ethical debate around the use of social media in the workplace.

Take a look at this comical take on the problems caused by social media in the workplace (haveisharedtoomuch 2011)

ACAS, the UK’s employment disputes body suggest several ways in which employers can mitigate these new workplace concerns (ACAS n.d.). They state the policies are important, although as shown above these are not particularly widespread. Also, they emphasise the need for improved communication between parties regarding social media. Finally, it’s important that your other policies, such as those covering ‘cyber bullying’, are also up to date.

But what about the employee perspective? Spherion found that 30% of workers think that social media improves their job satisfaction and 39% that it enhances their productivity (Spherion 2015). Therefore, there is a group of workers who think, albeit subjectively, that their work lives are enhanced by social media. This is likely to be younger workers, as Olmstead et al. found that they were more likely to use social media at work. Interestingly, this seems to vary by employment sector. Starkly, Moran et al. (2011) found that 91% of academics surveyed had used social media professionally. Therefore it seems that a distinction should be made between social media for work, and personally using it in work time.

In recent years work, especially in white collar industries, is increasingly not a physical ‘place’. For many people, work is increasingly an activity that is completed in a range of spaces, whether that is the home, coffee shop etc. (see Felstead et al. 2005). The lines between home and work are increasingly ‘blurred’ (Abril et al. 2012). These people tend to be more independent, but can they be trusted to use social media effectively? Therefore, a dimension of this debate should be the extent that an employer’s policy can control employees in a complex employment picture.

I hope this short post has enlightened somewhat the debate around workplace social media. There are even more factors, such as employment screening (see Riley 2014 for more on this), that further complicate the issues. However, whether employer or employee, social media is changing workplace relationships.

Word count: 425


Social Media in the workplace
An infographic summarising the issues around social media in the workplace (own creation)



Abril et al. 2012 “Blurred Boundaries: Social Media Privacy and the Twenty-First-Century Employee”

ACAS n.d. ”Help & advice for employers and employees – Social media”

Felstead et al. 2005 “The shifting locations of work”

haveisharedtoomuch 2011 “Have I Shared Too Much?” video

Moran et al. 2011 “Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media”

Olmstead et al. 2016 “Social Media and the Workplace” Pew Internet Research

Riley 2014 “Social media screening – is it ethical?”

Spherion 2015 “The Emerging Workforce Study”

A reflection on topic 3

An infographic explaining the key points of this topic’s discussion

At the end of another topic, it’s time to reflect on what makes an engaging, authentic online professional profile based on everyone’s contributions.  The keys point that I’ve taken away can be seen in the infographic above.

This week has fostered a fruitful discussion across a verity of topics. In particular, Ji and I explored several issues in a wide-ranging thread on his blog. For example, how other professionals, such as photographers, might use the Web to showcase their work? Additionally, the problems employers may face online. Could endorsements be linked together to form a Web of trust to facilitate authenticity? Finally, what should be made of the declining use of CVs?

Secondly, Patricia and I covered how ‘people hire people’ and how this relates to the Web. Both on and off-line, relationship building requires effort but this doesn’t “have to be loud and constant” – there is a trade-off. Furthermore, the idea of a ‘personal brand’ is helpful as it improves consistency in profiles. Similar to Ji, what is the future of CVs, should we all have a video CV?

Wil’s post enlightened a quantitative/qualitative dimension that I had not previously encountered. When commenting we discussed privacy and online profiles, how can we strike a ‘sharing balance’? Also, do McLuhan’s ideas of ‘the medium is the message’ mean that the Web is necessarily different?

Additionally, there were a couple of threads on my own post. Firstly, ‘Baby Boomer’ asked if more should be done to make the use of online tools more equal. I agreed and suggested that training and guidance could be provided at a range of life stages. Particularly as access to these tools are important, not just professionally, so more widespread access is vital.

Finally, Wil also commented on my post. He stated how “avoiding inauthenticity” creates more authentic profiles. We also discussed the problem of spam online.

All in all, interacting and researching this topic has given me a much greater insight into authentic professional profiles.

Word count: 330

Professional online profiles, how can we get it right?

How is the job market changing with new technology? What does that mean for my own career? These days it seems that a job search is as much about LinkedIn and Twitter as it is about CV and cover letter. Therefore, it’s vital that your professional identity is reflected on the Web. Here are some thoughts that’ll help you maximise your potential online.

Relationships > spam

A LinkedIn message I received recently, would you reply? (own creation)

When we use the Web professionally, it’s often to achieve something like a new job. If that’s the only time you use it, people know you’re after something. For example, as I’m a final year student, I’m fairly frequently sent job descriptions from recruiters, which I’m
likely to ignore (see a rather more opinionated piece by Zeller 2014).Instead, why not use the web to build longer term relationships? Recently I’ve been conducting research for my dissertation. As I’d build up my network previously, I was able to ‘activate’ it and generate an impressive response.

The response to my post on LinkedIn for my dissertation (own creation). Notice that most of the views came from my network sharing to theirs.

Take the long view

This is not an easy thing to achieve. Building and maintaining a network requires time and effort. All of the time you should making a conscious effort to add people to your network and maintaining existing relationships (see Don Tapscott 2014 for more detail about this). However, whenever it’s needed your network will pay dividends in unexpected expertise and insight. You might not even need to use your network, they might find you!

Differentiate yourself

What makes you, you? It’s a cliché but very relevant to your professional self. For example, I’m an undergraduate student, there’s 1.75 million of us (Universities UK n.d.). At the University of Southampton? 17,485 (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2016). Studying Web Science? Around 20.

The point here is to understand what makes you unique. Give reasons why someone should become part of your network. What interesting projects have you worked on? What causes are you passionate about? In essence, why should they spend time on you? Take a look at some ideas William Arruda (2015) has for standing out. The answers to these questions are what your online profile should focus on.

Years to build a reputation, seconds to destroy it

Finally, a note of caution. You may have heard of the Justine Sacco case (for more background, see Ronson 2015, Pilkington 2013). In brief, she sent a racist tweet and became a worldwide sensation as her life was torn apart. My point from this example is that you have to be consistent and careful with your online profile. It only takes one tweet…

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. The key thing is to not give up, this is a long term process.

bullding a professional online profile
An infographic that sums up these ideas, why not share it with your network? (own creation)

Word count: 418


Arruda 2015 ‘10 Outstanding Ways To Stand Out In A Job Search’

Higher Education Statistics Agency 2016 ‘2015/16 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile’

Pilkington 2013 ‘Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’’

Ronson 2015 ‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’

Tapscott 2014 ‘Five ways talent management must change’

Universities UK n.d. ‘Higher education in numbers’

Zeller 2014 ‘Stop the Recruiting Spam. Seriously.’

Topic 2: a reflection

I have spent a fair amount of the past two weeks examining concepts and perceptions of identities online. What has stood out to me is the sheer range of ideas presented.

As part of this topic, I’ve had several thought-provoking discussions. Firstly, Callum had insights around ‘real name’ policies used by Facebook etc. the effect on choice. This led to a discussion of the motivations behind such policies (advertising etc.) and the consequences, including the increasing use of tools such as TOR. However, Facebook etc. require offline authentication (such as passports) so the impact of these tools is limited.

In a similar way, I commented on Ed’s post. Questions included do you think anonymous services will complete on privacy? Is a single online identity ever a good thing?

Rachel and I also had a discussion on Costa and Torres’ ‘fragmented’ digital identities, a ‘halfway house’ of digital identity. I had not come across this idea before and it was helpful in understanding people’s differing personas online. We also considered the idea of ‘informed consent’ and whether current Web services enable it.

Finally, but by no means least, Patricia introduced me to Goffman’s ideas on my post. In particular, how these ideas translate online, what is the ‘stage’ and how do we ‘act’? Is Web is too complex to represent as a stage? I offered that different services online are different stages, and, that we all wear ‘masks’ (pseudonyms) that allow us to play different roles. As Patricia summarised: “actors can give a convincing performance, on various stages, without the audience ever knowing their true identity”. More research is needed here!

All in all, there are many forces at play in our online identities. As Wil said in his post “we are who applications and other users say we are”

Word count: 299

Raining cats and dogs: identity online

How truthful about yourself are you online? I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, ‘on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog’ (coined by Peter Steiner in 1993, see Fleishman 2000). Academic research has also highlighted how people can remain anonymous online (for example, see Hardey 2002). But more recently doesn’t it feel like we’re putting more our offline selves online? Does this mean we should segment our online identities?

To answer this, it’s important to understand how and why identities are used online by different people. Visitors and residents, covered in last topic’s post, might well approach this in different ways. A resident is likely to build a consistent online ‘brand’ across the websites and services that they use. This is in contrast to visitors who only have online identities that are required to use tools on the web. Therefore, depending on your use of the Web the amount of and use of any online identities varies.

Watch Geoff & Fred Atkinson’s take on the makeup on online identities

The drive towards more of your offline identity being brought online is, in part, advocated by online service providers. Facebook (other social networks are available) has built a business around digitalising your identity (see this discussion comparing Facebook and anonymous 4Chan).

This can also be seen in how YouTube handles account handles. When YouTube began users signed up with a handle (i.e. macole111). But a few years ago Google integrated its social network profiles with YouTube, causing real names are displayed (i.e. Mark Cole). This was then later made reversed due to a public backlash (see Gibbs 2014).

It’s hard work keeping up all of these online identities (used under CC non-commercial)

In light of this, how can we understand these forces in the context of our own online and offline lives? Some say that even when we put more online it is rarely who we are offline. So even if people do know that you’re a dog, you might actually be a cat. I also argue that offline identities complex and multifaceted. In different social contexts different identities are shown, is the Web merely one or maybe several new identity contexts?

In essence, it becomes a personal choice. Do you want to use the Web in visitor mode? Hidden behind pseudonyms to ensure your privacy while using the tools of the Web. Or do you want to promote yourself online with one consistent identity? Even if it is not the ‘real you’. Foremost it is you who decides your online identity, despite Web companies’ efforts.

Some ideas for different online identities (self-produced graphic)

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Fleishman, 2000 ‘Cartoon Captures Spirit of the Internet’ 

Gibbs, 2014 ‘The return of the YouTube troll: Google ends its ‘real name’ commenter policy’

Hardey, 2002 ‘Life beyond the screen: embodiment and identity through the internet’ 

Krotoski, 2012 ‘Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?’ 

Milian, 2010 ‘Online personas rarely match real-life behavior, observers say’ 

A reflection on Topic 1

At the end of this interesting and stimulating topic I have learnt much about how people might define their interaction with the Web. In particular, the ideas of White and Prensky.  Previously, I had only heard of digital ‘natives’. However, through extensive reading and discussion of my peer’s blog posts and other resources my knowledge of these theories is vastly greater than it was.

I commented on several different blogs, and in all of these cases a stimulating thread of conversation developed. Firstly, on Ji’s post there was an interesting discussion around different people’s use of LinkedIn. Was LinkedIn was a ‘visitor’ or ‘resident’ type platform? After a diffusion of our opinions and experiences, Ji insightfully concluded that “it is how the user perceives […] their interactions […] which dictates whether they are a digital visitor or resident”. This highlights the importance of people who use these services rather than just the platforms themselves.

Another dissuasion that expanded my knowledge of these ideas was on Callum’s blog. This discussion started when I asked him to clarify where on the ‘visitor’ to ‘resident’ spectrum he saw himself. He responded that both at work and at home he has played both roles. In particular, this was in his academic work, for example MOOCs. I also noted that technical skill does not necessarily define someone’s position on the scale between ‘resident’ and ‘visitor’.

Again, when reading Catherine’s post. One of the themes in this was whether these kind of paradigms are still appropriate given the complex nature of human interaction with these technical system. It came out of this that White’s ideas were extensible, therefore helpful.

All in all, this is a fruitful and thought-provoking area that has been enjoyable to research and discuss over the last couple of weeks.