Another round of internet identity metamorphosis–is it worth it? Yes (sigh).

November 25, 2007 by Jared Goralnick

I keep updating my tools, profiles, and sites. Why do it–is it worth it? Is it helping my life or my business? What’s next?

Today I’ve decided to begin moving all my photos to Flickr (well, it’ll be some time). We’re launching a web application in the next few months. SET’s website redesign (with almost all new content) will be completed by year end.

In January of 2006 I moved to WordPress (from Blogger, and before that just HTML) for, redid the layout, and launched (also WordPress). I also sorted through about five thousand photos from My Image Gallery and kept about a thousand, which were then migrated to Coppermine.

I can spare you from the discussion of how I made it to My Image Gallery from Dreamweaver’s photo pages and of my failed conversion to Greymatter and/or B2′s blogging software. And of course the moves from Friendster to Facebook, the trials and tribulations of MySpace, and the simultaneous development of relationships on LinkedIn.

This stuff takes a lot of time. Why do I do it?

My online participation is primarily for three reasons: self-expression, maintenance of relationships, and business. When I put up a website in ’95 and a blog in ’00, it was for self-expression (and having a technology project seemed like the thing to do). Over time it became a way of keeping in touch. In just the last year I’ve started to see business come out of it.

But is it really worth it?

Of the three reasons for online participation, keeping in touch has been the element that’s been most rewarding of late. Since most people are inherently poor at keeping in touch, Facebook and blogs offer a way of keeping up with those I care about without waiting for a phone call or email. I’ve also met some new (business) people online, and I’m fairly confident our relationships wouldn’t have progressed so smoothly if I hadn’t already built a reputation online.

Regarding self-expression, I find that blogging forces me to articulate myself more clearly…but I think that expression has become less influential on others and more on myself. Once upon a time when there were few blogs, I had a captive audience…but now I fully recognize that I don’t write or participate enough to hold people’s attention on either of my sites. Since my blogging platform has already been built it doesn’t take much effort to write the occasional entry…but its value as a vehicle for expression has diminished. (Then again, the Facebook mini-feed and RSS have made it easier to spread lately…).

One of the reasons why I never got too far with this site (or many of the other new media tools) before is that I never had a compelling business reason. As a local service provider my audience was still older and less influenced by new media. But that’s beginning to change in three ways:

  1. I’m launching a web application that’s following would likely spread exclusively through word of mouth online (well, assuming of course that anyone uses it)
  2. I now have services (design and development in Microsoft Office) that can be delivered without any face-to-face contact
  3. My local clients are beginning to experiment with social networking, other new media, and SaaS technologies

So now what?

Well, I’m obviously going through the next round of online-identity-update. That will help to improve my image and my company’s professionalism. But I know that the next step is to participate more.

I’ve found the inherent challenge with online participation is how well it suits your personality. Some people like Peter Corbett, Nick O’Neill, and Rana Sobhany seem to have been born to spread messages. Though I’m far from quiet, I’m finding some cognitive dissonance when I attempt to announce things outside of my closer circles. And sometimes I’d rather stay off the radar. Sadly I think I’ll have to change that…

It may not be the next week or month–as I’ll be writing a lot of web copy for the new sites, and that’s essentially the same slice of my day I’d use for blogging–but soon after that I intend to dedicate a lot more time to technotheory and the general online community. If I want AwayFind to succeed I think I’ll need to.

I’m not sure that I’m excited by the idea of writing more online–since I’m feeling particularly fulfilled these days (odd thought, isn’t it?)–but another round looks like the best path. Fortunately t I’ve met some awesome people on the way
whose paths I never would’ve crossed before. I hope that, in addition to some business, this leads to many more fulfilling friendships.

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