Our authentic self or an avatar?

Should we present our authentic self or should we hide behind our “avatars” in social media and network spaces?
That is a challenging one, especially for many networkers who are representing themselves as avatars, in the immersive learning environment like SecondLife, or as bloggers, visitors to blogs, or as educators in the web etc.
Are you interested in posting your comments with payment only?  Here it is.  Why paying?  Some medias are trying to see if such pay for comments service would influence the way readers would voice their views, and prevent or reduce spams and inflammatory comments be included in the discussion forum.
Why would one need to use avatar(s) to represent themselves in social media or networked learning?This could be a challenging and private question, isn’t it?
Ken has got good points here in his response comment: “Another reason was professional; sometimes it is difficult to offer opinions that might be construed to run against the grain of the organization that one is employed by, and I was overly-cautious about this and hiding behind anonymity made me feel better. Now I don’t worry so much about these things, so anonymity has helped my growth in this area.” That’s a concern not only for professionals, but educators, students as they may still have a long journey in their career paths, and don’t want their private and professional views be “mixed” and be exposed to their employer or potential employer for scrutiny.  This is both a rational and wise decision. Most of us would still need to have a “bright future”, but would like to establish our unique voice in the media, and may worry about how we present ourselves now may impact on our future career, study or learning with others.  This also explains why some educators or “networkers” would prefer to be the “visitors” (masked with fake name or an avatar) leaving with little or no trace in the digital and social media. This is a personal choice…
Ken continues: “We all wear different masks for different social settings.”  However, whether at work or in a personal setting, would this create a dilemma in ones persona, especially in the digital, social and virtual media?  Are our digital persona reflective of our authentic self? Why would we need to disclose ourselves in open space where we could easily be “exploited” by others?  How would we be able to “protect ourselves” without being accused of being untrue to what we say or do?  Can we undo some of the voices we raised in the digital, social or virtual space?  Would avatar save us? Would this be the reason why many educators are not willing to have their social media presence?  The reason for not having their own blogs, or their own voices heard….
For me, as a Catholic, I have nothing to fear, as mentioned in my previous blog post. I have nothing to hide, nothing that prevents me from expressing my true voices, and sayings… May be I am lucky, or may be I am overly confident. Am I wearing my own mask? No!  I am looking for a better future, in everything, by contributing, participating and engaging with social media and networks with my true self.
Here is my previous post on social media and its impact on organisation.
John
Photo: Flickr Trust me
How about your digital footprint?
In social media, it’s data about us..
How unique are our avatars?
How have we represented in avatars? What are your purposes of using an avatar?  Does it allow you to voice your authentic self in those spaces? Are avatars real?  Can we fully express ourselves with avatars – including your voices and emotions, feelings?
Is it also an important literacy for us – to learn how to identify an avatar that one would use to represent the persona, and understand what’s behind an avatar? Without avatars, or made up names, I wonder how many networkers would like to leave their digital persona or traces on the web.  Or may be most educators won’t be deterred to present their true self.  What do you think?
Just wonder!
Postscript: Enjoy this Welcome to Web 3.0.  Comments?

Accountability in Community of Practice

Interesting post on Knowledgeability by Katie. Crossing the boundaries is important for both educators and students in an educational setting, especially within an educational institution. Under the “concept” of accountability, educators often are expected to exercise risk control measures to ensure a duty of care for their students. It is legitimate to exercise such control in a classroom learning environment. Would this same concept of accountability be applicable in an online learning community? Is it rhetorical when it comes to COP at work especially when there could be conflicting views from different parties?
I love COPs. The challenge with COPs are however, the conformance and accountability associated with group’s expectations from individuals, and the associated reciprocity expected from the peers or practitioners, which may lead to tensions and friction amongst authorities, practitioners and students. So, how would one balance the “accountability” within COP and outside that of COP? What are some of the constraints that might be imposed with the accountability concept? How about the tension between accountability versus autonomy of individual practitioners? If an individual does not feel obliged to such accountability, what mediation and negotiation would be avaiblable or necessary in COPs? Is network an alternative to COP under such scenario?
Thanks for your wonderful insights into the community of practice.
John

Photos: From Flickr