On Becoming Public

3 minute read

Updated January 2015

This is a draft. It’s not ready.

If anyone is reading this, it’s because I’ve succeeded, at least a little bit, in developing a public version of myself. It is something I have struggled with, a bit, and so I am going to begin by describing what I’ve learned by developing this public version of me.

First, why am I creating a web presence for myself (after all these happy years without one)?

I have been a librarian for about as long as I have been an adult.  However, nothing about working in libraries required me to have a consistent, public, web self. That has changed as I have gotten involved in digital scholarship over the past few years.  I won’t define DH or DS, but I will say that within the DH and digital scholarship communities, there is an expectation that expertise will be shared in new ways. In creative ways. So, if I’m advocating for projects that are brave and public, I want to be brave and public as well. Here goes.

Second, practically speaking, how am I going to do this

  • Find or take a mildly professional photograph of myself that is actually me.  (thanks, Haverford!)  Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a public persona that doesn’t include a picture! nothing at all. I can see all sorts of reasons for doing that. But, I wanted a picture.
  • Buy my domain name. I went with bluehost, and since laurieallen.net (yay!!)  and laurieallen.com were taken, I have laurieallen.org. I’m not an organization, but I’m also not a company or a network, so whatever.
  • Update my resume. Updating my resume meant deciding which kind of dabbling I want to claim as official skills, and which things I want to ignore. It also meant deciding what parts of the library-work I’ve done over the last 12 years should count, and which of my projects and passions and responsibilities I need to let go of. That was sad and hard. (so sad and hard that it’s not done yet)
  • Decide exactly what kinds of things should go on this page. Is it a blog? Should I use WordPress? (yes. i’m using wordpress)
  • Find a web design that I liked. I’m not crazy about the current style, but I suspect I’ll keep dabbling forever.
  • Start keeping track of what I’m reading in a formal and organized way. (pocket is great!) It turns out that, as a librarian, I just read and learn and absorb and get curious, and follow things, without ever keeping track of where particular versions of my ideas come from. Because, basically, as long as I’m not putting anything in writing, it’s not really unacceptable to say “I think Bethany Nowviskie talks about this in interesting ways” or “Ta-Nehisi Coates has totally helped me think about the connections between curiosity and librarians” without having to actually point to a place. But, if I’m going to make public statements in recorded places, I need to have a better sense of the genealogy of my perspectives on various topics.
  • Start writing some blog posts…
    • perhaps one on not identifying as an alt-ac, and on the curious way that feels in the current world
    • start posting my experiments with leaflet and the various mapmaking experiments I’ve got going.
    • one on the difficulty of finding good soup to nuts anatomies of technology of the sort that I think all citizens should have access to.
    • and of course, maybe one on the universe of things that would be my research interests if i had research interest (cities, maps, mental maps, physical maps, digital maps, power and borders in the US)
    • something about the wonders I saw in the libraries I visited in Mexico