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Perspective on digital identity via danah boyd

In the June 2007 Harvard Business Review, danah boyd was one of the respondents to their case commentary, We Googled You.  As you might guess from the title, the subject was what should a hiring manager do when they discover "interesting" information about a potential hire.  We Googled You: should Fred hire Mimi despite her online history?.  To get the full story, you'll need to find a copy of the magazine.

The thing I wanted to highlight is boyd's perspective on her own online identity and what it implies for this case, and for the very real case of many people who've spent most of their lives online.

I just celebrated my ten-year blogging anniversary. I started blogging when I was 19, and before that, I regularly posted to public mailing lists, message boards, and Usenet. I grew up with this technology, and I'm part of the generation that should be embarrassed by what we posted. But I'm not—those posts are part of my past, part of who I am. I look back at the 15-year-old me, and I think, "My, you were foolish." Many of today's teens will also look back at the immaturity of their teen years and giggle uncomfortably. Over time, foolish digital pasts will simply become part of the cultural fabric.

Just as if you have a criminal record, it has to be disclosed to get certain jobs.  You may as well be ready to talk about "questionable online behavior," people are going to find it anyway.  Employers are looking for this information.  Nannies and babysitters and dates are being Googled.  boyd is just saying that there is no point in hiding from it.

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