Between an entry at Darren Cannell
's site and the entry that I posted at The Program
earlier today, I got to thinking about the importance of a graduate student's web presence. Basically, these two entries were based upon this short little piece written on this blog called "PR Studies
" (which professes to be a blog "about public relations from Leeds Business School at Leeds Metropolitan University"). The piece in question was an entry entitled "Why students should blog
Essentially this piece is a list of advice for those who are considering starting a blog or are just in the process of starting one. As I'm only been at this for three months now (over the three blogs that you see on the right of your screen and this one), so let's see how I stack up.
- All writers, aspiring and professional, need to practice their skills. Treat a blog as a playground for ideas and styles. [CHECK]
- It's a new medium, and there are some new lessons to be learnt: about the virtue of links, about RSS, about the merits of posting comments, and about Google PageRank and other web metrics. [CHECK]
- As with all writing, you first need to read, read, and read some more. This is the most important lesson you can learn. [CHECK]
- You are looking to make a name for yourself, and blogs give Google plenty of current content to be indexed. This will help you appear on a Google search result, especially if you're lucky enough to have an untypical name like Piaras Kelly. I predict that more and more employers will adopt this technique before interviewing candidates on the grounds that if you can't make a name for yourself, you probably can't do it for them either. [CHECK] - Although there are two other "Michael Barbour"s in academia it appears when I check on Google.
- You'll learn valuable lessons applicable to the real world. You'll realise that Rome wasn't built in a day: a blog is no instant route to fame and fortune, but nor is a public relations campaign. [CHECK]
- Conversely, you'll learn that it is possible to have your thoughts and ideas picked up by others (real world public relations). It should give you a buzz. [CHECK]
- You'll make connections: of ideas and with people. [CHECK]
So, seven for seven, not too bad I suppose... However, I have to be honest and say that number 4 really stuck out for me.
You see, we have a professor in my department that will Google every single applicant to the program to see what comes up. I'm not entirely sure what he is looking for, if it is to see if there is anything embarassing about that individual which may reflect poorly upon the program, if it is to see if there has been any scholarly output from this individual that has been picked up by this search engine, if it is just o see what kind of web presence the individual has (given that we are in a program of Instructional Technology), or maybe a combination of some of these or none at all. I'm really not sure.
However, it has made me uniquely aware of my own web presence. I mean I don't think that there is a person among us who hasn't Googled (interesting how that has become an acceptable verb in our society) our own name in a semi-vanity exercise. But over the past two years, I have been acutely aware of exactly what I contribute to the web, through my own homepages, projects that I have been involved in, comments that I have made in web-based discussion forums, and even now on the blogs that I maintain.
It is this last one that concerns me the most I suppose. For example, since 25 May there have been visitors to this blog from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Australia. The visitors to my other main blog, Virtual High School Meanderings, have come from from Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Switzerland, Hungary, Republic of Korea (i.e., South Korea), Brazil. Canada, the United States, Venezuela, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Ukraine, South Africa, Iran, India, the Philippines and Japan. Between these two blogs, people from some thirty-four different countries have seen a piece of my web presence. Granted, many of these are probably brough here through Blogger's "Next Blog" feature (look to the top right of your screen), probably a good guess given that most visitors spend less than 5 seconds here.
But when I look at my our homepage, I've had visitors from eleven US states, two Canadian provinces, and Turkey (oddly enough). According to my StatCounter (and if you haven't seen this yet or don't have any stats generated at your site, I strongly encourage you to check it out), most of these have found their way to my professional portfolio via Google.
So you have to ask yourself, what shows up when you Google yourself? More importantly, how many other people have done that and how does that impact what those people think about you? In case you're curious, this is me - although not all of the hits are me.
Tags: blog, blogging, blogs, graduate student, graduate school, higher education, education