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Three entries in a single day?! I must admit that I've thought about pre-dating one or two of them so as to fill in my calendar--and I'd admit further that I continue to mock this impulse as a way of trying to break myself of it. I'll let you know how that works out for me.

Anyhow, yesterday I had a couple of different conversations based on my post from Wednesday about individual/collective commitments to technology, and as is almost always the case, I found myself distilling my point even further and wishing that I had taken the time to do so as I was writing it. So what's my point? Here it is: it's a mistake to think that you get to choose when to become part of the network, and this is particularly true of academics. Here's the question that I wish I'd asked the students in Steve's class on Tuesday:

What happens when you Google your name?

This is not a technical question, nor does the actual answer matter all that much. It's a question, first, of knowing how you are represented to/in/by the network, and second, exercising what agency you can over that representation. By and large, I'm with Jeff when it comes to the largely mythic nature of literacy, but I'm tempted here to suggest that knowing the results of an egosurf (Googling your name) is to new media/electracy what being able to sign your name is to literacy.

The obsession over tracking data is a bit of a joke among bloggers, and goodness knows, there are tools a plenty that feed that particular addiction, but there's a serious side to being able to speak of one's site traffic with some degree of accuracy. In the grand scheme of things, my Ecosystem ranking or my Technorati report may not mean a great deal, but they give me some sense of my place, some barometer of connectivity that can be articulated in broad terms. In many ways, this is the new version of the curriculum vitae--when I sit on a search committee, and I'm looking through CVs, I'm looking for signs that a particular candidate is engaged with the field, and most of the categories found there are simply chronological accounts of that engagement. They're also so conventional as to become eye-glazing after a while. Contrast the CV, which is a tightly controlled self-presentation, with Technorati search results, over which I have virtually no control and which actually tells a body more about my interests, influences, and place in the network.

Any guesses about the ratio of CV workshops in graduate school to Google workshops? Five or ten years ago, that ratio (which hasn't changed thus far) was arguably justified--it's far less so now, and that justification is receding further as you read this sentence. You can get away without a vita until you go on the market, but a web presence isn't an add-on. It's getting closer and closer to a sine qua non.

(Just imagine how this entry would look if I weren't "distilling." That is all.)


Interesting points. From my perspective, I think the tools you mentioned (technorati and tllb ecosystem specifically) also can help bloggers (or writers in general) see how they are "doing" in connecting with their audience. For instance, because of my little shooting star week for my blog, I rose 5000 spots in my ecosystem ranking. I don't, by any stretch, believe this to be because of something I did, but it will be interesting to see how these rankings can be maintained or gained upon when things return back to normal.