Thursday, April 21, 2011

Online Portfolios, are they worth it?

Being online today is like exercise. You either keep up or fall behind. Or you're like me and you procrastinate till you can't any more and try to catch up by doing everything at once.  Anyway, as our identity becomes increasingly integrated with the internet, it means more and more people are turning to their computers to dig up what ever they can find out about you.  So, what tools are you using to create your online presence?  A lot of what you find is spread between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs etc.  Each of these avenues reaches a different audience and plays an important role.  If you're lucky enough to have a memorable/unique name just Googling you will return all sorts of results for people to sift through. If you really want to quantify your reach you can always check the numerous sites that are now being created like this one: to give your self a score (Mine was 728 out of 850)  But I'm never really sure what the number means and of course the site wants me to pay them more for them to tell me how to improve my score.  But there's plenty of advice always popping up on how to be better at networking and marketing yourself.  This last ACRL meeting in Philadelphia my colleague Kiyomi Deards did quite a few sessions on personal branding which you can hear about on her blog.  Being successful at anything, whether it is your job, your hobby or even just how others perceive you is all about putting your best foot forward.


The reason I'm bringing this up is I'm debating with myself over the need to create an online profile for Towson.  I have a basic profile for librarians which features my library related work.  However for Towson I would maybe want to include resources on the various science sections I am liaison to (Biology, Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, Molecular Biology).  I'm not sure how useful this would really be since I already have subject gateways to guide the students to various resources.  So I went searching for some other online profiles to start gathering ideas.  The profiles are all impressive in a range of ways.  My cousin keeps his page simple and sweet.  He advertizes his film skills through (surprise surprise) a short video and then uses the page to provide further contact and information.  This Wix from a student at UIUC-GSLIS I was very impressed with.  I also have a Wix profile I created for fun, and which I was never quite happy with for a variety of reasons. The one this student created is easy to navigate and the content is brief but very effective at bringing home her point.  And of course, the Wix flash features make the site visually stimulating and fun to interact with.  This last example made the rounds a while back, but is another great example of the advantages of having a visual element to your portfolio.  All of the examples that I found compelling have features which I hope to mimic, simple layout, easy navigation, centralized information, and they all get their point across without making the reader feel like they are working at it.

One problem, I am not a web designer.  Another problem, do I want the addition to my URL that makes it clear I am using a third party?  Also, how much time to I want to spend maintaining yet another aspect of my online identity.  But, where there is a will, there is a technology .... or something.  I recently came across a website with free CSS templates.  So, I think if I stick to my rules I might be dipping my toes into real website land soon.  Oh well, guess I have to keep exercising my technology muscles anyway.

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