Trouble Outside of Paradise, and the Power of Duct Tape

My son-in-law’s brother is getting married today in Lafayette, Indiana, and I’m producing a wedding video as our gift to the couple, so we turned it into a five-day partial family getaway.

It seems my youngest daughter, Ruth, is “in a relationship” (to use the Facebook lingo), with a young man from Louisville, Kentucky whom she has known through her Bible Bowl competitions. The Kelley family lives 676 miles from Old Main, as we learned on our long but uneventful Thursday drive. And they’re “only” 180 miles from Lafayette, so we left our three youngest children with the Kelleys while we drove up for the rehearsal and Groom’s Dinner yesterday and wedding today. We’ll head back to Louisville early tomorrow morning for church and to spend the day, before returning to Minnesota on Monday.

Note to potential Old Main burglars: Even through we’re away from Austin, you should be aware that our next-door neighbor, Mark May, is a deputy sheriff. He has a gun, and he knows how to use it.

Rick Kelley took Friday morning off so he and April could take Lisa and me out for brunch at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, a well-known Louisville hangout. We saw a picture of Hillary Clinton inside as one of the high-profile visitors, and there’s a huge wall map near the restrooms on which patrons can place a sticky dot representing their hometown. The whole U.S. is pretty well plastered with dots.

We had a wonderful time with Rick and April, but as we came out to our cars afterward, we saw the damage from a hit-and-run driver:


Apparently someone had pulled out of the alley you see behind that nice police officer, clipped our rear bumper and shoved our Grand Caravan into the Kelleys’ Camry. Thankfully their car wasn’t damaged.

And thanks also to the power of duct tape from a nearby Home Depot,  we were able to get back on the road with at least a temporary fix.

Behold, The Power of Duct Tape
Behold, The Power of Duct Tape

Personal and Professional Personas in Social Networks

In the Facebook 210 course I describe a way to use Facebook’s Friend lists to create a “work-safe” profile that is less likely to cause professional problems, when that high school classmate or college buddy tags you in a questionable photo or writes on your wall. This led to a thoughtful comment from Erik Giberti:

I’ve sent you a friend request and of course your on my limited profile. I find this discussion interesting because there’s a fine line between having a personal persona and a professional persona. I go back and forth on this idea, but I believe that they are really one in the same. The way I am at work is often reflected by the way I am when I’m not at work and vice versa. The reality is, many folks create an artificial “professional” persona that masks who they are in the “real world”. It has been my experience that employers and co-workers can usually tease out trends in your real life personality and spot the fake portions of the professional persona. What’s left is really something closer to your personal persona. So why not just present that first and save everyone the time?

I think Erik has a good point, and personally I don’t have a problem with anyone seeing my whole profile. My life is an open book. And I think the ethic of transparency we are coming to expect from corporations also has some implications for personal life. In fact, that’s why I like Facebook as opposed to MySpace or Second Life. In Facebook people almost always go by the name their parents gave them; in MySpace that’s not necessarily so, and in Second Life you are represented by an avatar and aren’t allowed to use your real name. (I did recently try Second Life, I think my name is Allen Atlass.)

On the other hand, even aside from the potentially problematic posts and tags from others, many people put their religious beliefs and political leanings on their Facebook profiles, and many businesses want to keep politics and religion out of the workplace. You don’t typically put that information on your business card.

LinkedIn doesn’t have anything in its personal profiles that would indicate religious or political persuasion, unless of course you have worked vocationally in religious or political pursuits. For Facebook to be an effective business alternative to LinkedIn (I use both Facebook and LinkedIn, but Facebook to a much greater extent), it needs to duplicate this functionality.

That was the point of Facebook 210 and the subsequent SMUG Research Project; creating an example of how you can avoid broadcasting this personal information to co-workers, customers or clients, but yet share it with your non-work friends.

SMUG students who read my post on religious podcasting have a window to my theological beliefs, and because of my previous career information (which is available on both my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles), they would correctly infer my political sympathies. (Hint: I don’t have a direct psychological stake in the outcome of tomorrow’s Pennsylvania contest between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama.) Which leads me to reiterate that the views expressed on this blog are mine, not those of my employer.

So Erik is right to a point; maintaining a sanitized professional persona may not be consistent with the ethic of transparency. One might even call it a matter of integrity in the literal sense. Integrity means being a single person, not having a compartmentalized life. If you’re maintaining a professional profile on LinkedIn and a personal one on Facebook, with completely different friends, you’re already creating this division. Facebook 210 just tells you how to create that separation on a single platform.

I think the key to what Erik says is that a professional persona shouldn’t “mask” who you are in real life. But there’s a difference between hiding information about yourself and not actively promoting things that might be stumbling blocks for some acquaintances.

What do you think?

Charlie Rose at Media Relations 2008

Charlie Rose

Howard Rubenstein of Rubenstein and Associates interviewed Charlie Rose as the opening keynote. Kind of an interesting way of doing a keynote address. It was a conversation, which is fitting given the theme of the conference, which is “The Power of Story: New Media, New Technologies, A New Narrative for PR.”

Here are some points/quotes from Charlie:

“I think of our show as a global conversation.” He thinks he’s probably quoted more than any other media personality because he does five hours of conversations a week.

Sophia Loren was way more interesting to interview than Henry Kissinger…”She’s everything I dream about.” Rupert Murdoch is also one of Charlie’s favorites. Others are Ted Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Buffet

His show uses robotic cameras, so there is nobody there to distract his guests.

Advice for placing a guest on Charlie Rose: remember it’s long form. Understand the show, and Charlie’s curiosity. He wants it to be about ideas, biography, lessons. Don’t try to sell a product. Sell authenticity and “realness.”

His show doesn’t do pre-interviews at all. That keeps it fresher. He just tries to be curious. He doesn’t speak to the guest in advance, but his staff does lots of research in advance.

Charlie sees digital media as extremely imporant: His mission is to make his show more widely available around the internet. He has 17 years of interviews with the most interesting people in the world. The arrival of the digital world means he can make all of his content available free in the archives. He has done 20,000 interviews, and has interviewed all of the remaining presidential candidates at least two or three times.

He said he was surprised at Bill Clinton’s reaction to Sen. Obama in an interview just before the Iowa caucuses.

Charlie thinks Sen. Clinton staying in the race isn’t hurting the Democratic party, and that there is too much talk about her getting out. She believes she should be president, and it’s her decision.

I think he said he wants to make his videos available in Facebook. One of the downsides of the wide-ranging conversation is that it’s easy to ramble. Still much better than a prepared speech, though.

I took some video of this session and may be posting some of it later.