July 2012

Or ‘Anna ruminates (endlessly) about who she is in an online world and how to deal with multiple online identities’

I have a relatively complicated, online life, which goes counter to my recommendations for integrated digital strategy! But what I’ve realised, is that this ‘messiness’ is also a reflection of human reality, where subjectivity is neither clear cut nor perfectly integrated.

Bear with me …

Working life

Say Books

For most of last year, I was a Postgraduate student of Business and Administration (Bus Info Systems), and in mid-year co-founded Say Books, our digital publishing consultancy and now also publishing company. This is where my interest in ‘book’ publishing is invested, where I experiment with new business models based on the premise that online is (nearly) everything, and where I blog about digital publishing. It is the account I use to tweet about digital publishing (@saybooks), and the ID I used for posting on LinkedIn in early 2011. It is in this role that I present at publishers’ conferences (Publishers’ Forum, Berlin, O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Conference, Frankfurt in 2011, 2012), and write articles (see Publishing Perspectives here and here).

Author-it Software Corporation

My interest in digital publishing is complemented by my other work, but is separate from it. In September last year, I started working as a Consultant/Project Manager for Author-it Software Corporation, the innovative company in the enterprise content authoring, managing and publishing space. Ever a devotee of content management and technology for publishing, I was immediately attracted to their slogan when someone referred to them in a LinkedIn discussion: One Source. One Solution, and sought them out. It is wonderful working in an environment where innovative thinking, content management and technology is part of the very fibre of the company. (I don’t tweet about Author-it from my @saybooks account because my affiliation with Author-it is not transparent there, and I like to be scrupulous about disclosure.)

Geeking out on Twitter

Another part of my life is devoted to following popular culture and in particular the TV Show, Castle.I tweet about Castle with other die-hard Castle fans using a pseudonym, as do many fans.  Now however, my two Twitter worlds are beginning to merge because my interest in Castle has led me to fanfiction and publishing (see the Publishing Perspectives article). Because of my interest in this, some people now follow me on both my Say Books and my Castle accounts and don’t initially realise I am one and the same person, so I tell these followers about my ‘dual identities’.

Twitter personas

What I’ve found interesting is that I’ve realised I interact completely differently when using my Castle Twitter persona than I do as @saybooks. As @saybooks, I am reserved, tend to post without too much comment, don’t start up conversations with people I follow but am very happy to chat to people who approach me. My Castle Twitter ID brings out my playful side which in real life manifests most when I’m talking to someone who shares a particular interest of mine (my interests are rather eclectic). I can see though that from a business social media perspective, my Castle Twitter persona is, ironically, more suited to building a social media presence than is my Say Books persona.

Thinking a lot (too much?)

Then I start wondering whether I should have these two identities or not.

Would people who follow me on Say Books appreciate all my Castle-related tweeting; probably not! Would they judge me for my fangirling? Possibly.

And perhaps people in the fanfic world who are currently unaware of my fangirl authenticity in the Castle fandom may see me as a cynical business person coming to exploit them, rather than as a fellow fan who appreciates their writing and would like to both support their original writing, and make a business from it.

Then I think, if my interest in publishing is largely around online possibilities, communities of interest and using fanfiction as a model, wouldn’t it make sense to fangirl and show my genuine interest about all this on my Say Books account?

And so I go round and round in circles.

LinkedIn (still thinking too much)

Then there is LinkedIn.  In the first part of last year, I was an avid contributor on LinkedIn book publishing-related forums. Most of my posts were Manager’s Choices at one time or another, probably because I had an interest in both technology and the editorial side of book publishing, which at that time was an unusual combination in Publishing. People tended either to be technical or artistic. I’m ever a mix of left and right brained (an aptitude test many years ago recommended I be an architect).

Once I joined Author-it my position at Author-it became my professional public identity on LinkedIn, but I wouldn’t be representing Author-it when talking about Publishing. I wasn’t sure how to resolve this dichotomy between my public LinkedIn profile and my posting profile. Ideally, I’d really like to have two separate LinkedIn accounts (which isn’t possible), but then I’d encounter the same problems as those in my separate Twitter accounts. And also of course, the fact that I work at an innovative software company specialising in content management, technology and single-source publishing for global markets does inform my comments about book publishing.

After much thinking …

So after all this ruminating I have decided to do the following.

1. Consider making ‘Say Books’ my top level ‘affiliation’ on LinkedIn for the time being so that my LinkedIn identity more closely represents my affiliation when participating in book publishing discussions (and disclosing my affiliation with Author-it when relevant to the discussion).

2. Add a bit more of my ‘Castle fan’ persona to my Say Books tweets.

3. Reveal my Castle fan Twitter ID to a few more people, and maybe one day just make it my personal account with my name.

In the meantime, if you are a publishing person who also follows Castle, and want to know who I am on Twitter in my Castle fan (dis)guise, just DM me @saybooks or email me.

And Nathan Fillion, feel free to contact me any time, even in person. I’m generous like that.


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Musings on Digital Publishing Copyright © 2012 by Anna von Veh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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