EGO Blog

Googled Yourself Lately? Tips for Professionalizing Your Web Presence

26 Oct 2009 14:24
EgO at UMassEgO at UMass

As this Chronicle article, Facebooking for the Tenure Track, (which you should read) explains, now is as good a time as any to take control over your web presence. Students, colleagues, professors, employers — potential dates — they're all Googling and Facebooking, and sometimes finding more than what you had expected.

Just last month after running a Google search on myself, I found myself listed, unauthorized, on a website called Spock. The site had lifted my full name, location, birthday, age, a silly photo, and friend list from my centuries-old, password-protected MySpace profile (which had been set to private) and posted that information in a public listing. Happily, after emailing the company, the information was immediately removed. But a lesson was learned. It's probably no longer realistic to be anonymous on the web. But what can you do to limit the circulation of damaging information and even professionalize your web presence?

Facebook Friend Lists
Articles with tips to protect yourself on Facebook abound and include such no-brainers as "set your profile to private" and "don't post images of yourself drunk and dancing on bar tables." But I have found that one of the most useful but underused strategies is to create "Friend Lists" and then assign each list different privacy settings. For instance, while your 10 closest friends might have access to your full account, you can keep separate Friend Lists for acquaintances, old high school friends you wished hadn't found you, and your mother, who recently and inexplicably set up an account.

To do this, from the top menu, go to "Friends." On the left-side menu, at the bottom of the "Lists" already created, you'll see a little plus sign. Click it to create a new Friend List. Once you've created the lists you want, from the top menu go to Settings —> Privacy Settings —> Profile. From each drop-down menu (i.e., Profile, Status, Photos Tagged of You), choose "Customize." Under "Who Can See This?" choose "Some Friends." You will now have the option to type in a friend list. Facebook even allows you to preview your profile as a certain friend would see it so there is no doubt about who has access to what.

By the time you're finished here, that professor who friended you will be able to see little more than your name.

(Caveat: customizing Friend List privacy settings does not necessarily give you free license; anything on the web is still, well, on the web.)

Delete Accounts on Old Social Networking Sites
Do you have a Friendster account you haven't looked at in 5 years? You were 5 years younger; it probably has something embarrassing on it. Delete accounts for any social networking sites you are no longer using (and monitoring) regularly.

Run a Narrow Google Search
You should (and probably do) Google yourself occasionally. But don't take false comfort in the fact that your name is John Smith and therefore no one will ever be able to find you. In addition to your general Google search, attach keywords that any self-respecting stalker would use to narrow the results. "John Smith UMass" is a pretty good start. Then take action. Remove offending content you have control over; contact websites that are posting hazardous information and ask them to remove it. (See incident with Spock above.)

Build a Professional Web Presence
Finally, taking control of your web presence is not just purging questionable content; it is also a personal PR campaign to define how you want the world to see you. The Chronicle article has some great suggestions to that end. But you might also consider creating a simple, concise professional webpage on UMass's server or writing a blog addressing your research interests via one of the numerous blog hosts, including Blogger,, or UMass's own Blogs at UMass Amherst. I have a friend, for instance, whose professional interests blog, which she listed on her resume and business card, helped her land a (nonacademic) job.

And of course, post a blurb about your research and teaching interests on our wiki's Grad Student Bio page.

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EGO Meeting 4/21 Minutes

08 May 2009 21:47
Joe MasonJoe Mason

1. Volunteers agreed to collaborate in planning a welcome back social event at Look Park at the start of the fall semester. Using this event as an opportunity to get the word out about EGO was also discussed.

2. Other plans discussed to get current and incoming students involved: weekly social events; class visits.

3. Book sale details finalized; plans for next year's English Graduate Conference underway.

4. Amy Brady and Joe Mason elected co-chairs of EGO. Thanks to Lisha Daniels Storey for serving as chair this year!

See minutes for all meetings:
About EGO

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What is RSS?

07 May 2009 12:16
EgO at UMassEgO at UMass

In a perfect world, updates from all your favorite news websites and blogs would appear instantly in one place, ready for you to access. You wouldn't have to hunt. It would be like getting your meals delivered from the best restaurants in town, everyday.

I've often wished for just such a service. And then I found it…right under my nose. It's called an RSS reader, and you've probably seen the little orange squares that signal its feeds everywhere. feed-icon-14x14.png

I'd like to take away some of the mystery from RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) and get you to try it out! You'll wonder how you lived without it.

Here's a brief summary of how it works: most news, opinion, and blog websites generate constantly updating "feeds" of all their latest content. An RSS reader tracks your favorite feeds and delivers them to you in one location. Think of it as an email inbox filled with your very own, personalized web content. Just imagine…no more checking the same websites day in and day out to see if anything new has popped up. And you'll never miss a thing.

For example, in my RSS reader, I am tracking the New York Times's Most Emailed Stories, my best friend's blog, the comments my students post on our course website, and— of course —UMass EGO website. As soon as a student posts a comment or another story moves into the NY Times's most emailed list, it appears in my reader, complete with a description (and sometimes the full text), a link, and an option to share by email.

Click the little orange buttons on the UMass EGO website to receive updates directly to your reader.

Although there are many RSS readers available, I use Google Reader because it is straightforward and requires no download. All you need to do is create a free Google account (with which you will also be able to use Google's email, photo, calendar, and other services).

Once you have set up your reader, you can start adding "subscriptions" to your favorite websites by clicking on the site's RSS link (that orange button again). Or you can add the site's URL directly in your reader.

That's it! Turns out, RSS really is Really Simple.

EGO Feeds
feed-icon-14x14.png Blog
feed-icon-14x14.png Discussion Board
feed-icon-14x14.png EGO Site Updates
feed-icon-14x14.png News and Events!

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The Times Looks at Academia

07 Mar 2009 18:51

The NY Times just published an article on the perhaps growing difficulty of landing tenure-track positions in the Humanities.

Doctoral Candidates Anticipate Hard Times
Published: March 7, 2009
Full-time faculty jobs have not been easy to come by in recent decades, but this year the new crop of Ph.D. candidates is finding the prospects worse than ever.
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Faculty Cuts

05 Mar 2009 14:05
EgO at UMassEgO at UMass

U. of Massachusetts at Amherst May Cut 60 Faculty Jobs Next Year
Chronicle of Higher Education
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Tags: budget umass


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