Professional Identity Online - Are You a Dog?post by Chris Curran on August 12, 2009
Peter Steiner published his infamous “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” cartoon in 1993. This mental image for me was just a joke - until recently. For the most part, you know the people who email you, link up with on Facebook or LinkedIn. Those you don’t recognize, you just write off as spam or a mistake.
Today, Twitter is buzzing with an expose penned by John C. Dvorak, of PC Mag editorial rant fame, in which he questions the background and credentials of the new US CIO, Vivek Kundra. In it, he raises serious questions about Kundra’s education, work experience, technical expertise and even criminal record. Wow.
There have been many public examples of fraudulent resumes over the years - from corporate execs to college football coaches. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. What is newer, is the layers of anonymity that the Internet and social media provides would-be dogs.
Social Media Identity
Earlier this year, I started the CIO Twitter Dashboard to track Chief Information Officers using Twitter. Since there wasn’t a single list of CIOs or any role out there, I used many of the great 3rd party apps and mashups to seek out new people for the list (see Twellow, WeFollow and Mr. Tweet). Along the way, I’ve learned a lot (see more here) about how people describe themselves in the short Twitter bios and longer LinkedIn and corporate resumes. Some observations:
- Almost all Internet lists allow people to self-identify. In other words, if you say you are a CIO, then you are.
- Many people are very liberal in using the term “CIO” to describe their role. In several cases, upon further digging, individuals were really consultants to a CIO or consider them CIO-level consultants without any stated job references.
- Some describe their role in a 1-5 person startup as the “CIO,” when they may just be the guy/gal buying a few servers. There is very little in the way of company description linked into any of the social lists out there with the exception of LinkedIn and a few others.
- When trying to figure out who someone is, it’s best to triangulate using multiple sources. For example, when I add someone to the CIO Twitter Dashboard, I may start with Twellow but also check LinkedIn, corporate web sites and popular CIO media sites.
All of this has been somewhat academic as I continue to build this list. However, because of the interest in the list and the CIO Dashboard blog, I was asked to participate in the formation of an industry group of CIOs. This group was the brainchild of an enterprising guy who used Twitter and other social media channels to identify people he thought would have something to contribute to a discussion about CIO leadership and gaps in the industry (conferences, education, forums, etc.). Because he used on-line channels to identify possible participants, the group was diverse and global. Because of politics and other factors beyond my understanding, the group imploded. Best I can understand, it was because the organizers could not get comfortable that they had a group of real CIOs and IT leadership practitioners versus a bunch of pretenders.
Two questions I ask myself as a result:
- How far should you go in vetting your professional relationships made on-line? For example, is it appropriate to call someone’s workplace and ask for them without prior agreement?
- What does it mean when you can’t find many/any on-line references to an individual? What if this individual is in the IT profession?
Independent Professional Identity Verification
In the wake of the “ghost Tweeting” controversy of a few months ago and its opponents, Twitter added the ability to have your name verified so that people would know that @TheRealShaq is really THE Shaq we know and love. Several other start-ups are also dancing around this need and provide social media username checking and social media identity theft.
What is needed, however, is an independent service that provides identity verification that can be used across all on-line sites and services. Sort of like an “Intel Inside” - a recognizable and trustworthy independent brand. Sounds like a great opportunity for LinkedIn, RSA, Norton, or PayPal (or many others).
Let’s remove these concerns so we can focus on learning and building better, more productive business relationships.
Pingback: Twitted by gsrturbos()
Pingback: Top 5 CIO Tweets of the Week - August 14, 2009 â€” CIO Dashboard()
Pingback: CIO Guide to Social Media â€” CIO Dashboard()