It feels like a long overdue digital spring cleaning. About a month ago, I made the decision to migrate a bunch of websites that I host (including this one) off of US servers and onto Canadian servers.
Overall, the move went well but not without a few hiccups, as you might expect as you move from a platform that you have used for over a dozen years.
I had a reseller account with Hostgator, which meant I had access to WHM, which is a step above cPanel (for those of you who have worked at reclaiming or hosting your own sites). At one time, I had a stable of about 30 web properties that I managed, including sites for external clients, so a reseller account made sense.
This isn’t the case anymore. The sites I still have are either my own, or pro bono ones I host and maintain for side projects I am involved in, like my kids school PAC’s or sports teams they are involved in. So, a reseller account was overkill and expensive, especially with the exchange rate between US and Canadian dollars being what it is. Economically, it made sense to move.
But it also made sense just for my own digital comfort. Hosting in the US has always made me feel uncomfortable, although (as has been proven many times over) it doesn’t matter where you post digital data – those with power and know how can find, get and use any piece of information that they want.
Hosting data on a Canadian server vs a US server in a post-Snowden world almost feels more like a symbolic act than one that offers any real protection of data. Still, there are laws in my province and country that have been put in place to ostensibly protect our security and privacy. Not that I have sensitive data that I am trying to hide, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.
The other nice thing about repatriating my sites is that I can actually support a local business in my hometown. After being with Hostgator in the US for a dozen years, I have now moved back to a local company called Islandhosting. Before moving to Hostgator in 2004, I had hosted a number of sites with Islandhosting and was a happy customer. The only reason I left in 2004 for Hostgator was because, at that time, Islandhosting didn’t have options available for me to effectively manage numerous domains. Hostgator did and so I moved. But things have changed and I now have access to tools like Installatron and add-on domain management with Islandhosting that they did not have in 2004.
In addition to the technical migration, I have also been feeling this need to attempt to detangle my digital personal and professional lives. Context collapse (PDF) is real and I am increasingly feeling the need to carve out more private, personal spaces on social media, as I hinted at back in January and (I realize as I re-read my own post with subtext) September.
Closing up when you have operated openly for most of your career is a difficult thing to even think about. For over a decade now, I have tried to present myself as a real person online in all the different SM I inhabit. Those of you who follow me in multiple spaces hopefully get the same view of me on Twitter, Facebook, and here on this blog.
But choosing to attach my name to everything I do means something different in 2017 than it did in 2007. So many contexts have changed, from where I am in my career, to my family, to social media in general. I have had instances where the things I do in my personal life affect my professional life to the point where people have felt it appropriate to threaten my employer over my actions as a private citizen. I realize this is far from the abuse I have seen hurled at others I know who have public profiles closely tied to their private life. But still, not easy to deal with.
At this point, I don’t know if I can even detangle my personal and professional digital identities, but I want to try. Context collapse, while real, can be managed. This year, you’ll likely hear about these detangling attempts as I put some walls up around some gardens.
The biggest walled garden: Facebook
Facebook seems like the best place to start as that is where I seem to experience the most context collapse.
I have started by setting up a public Facebook page that will be nothing but content associated with my professional life. This is where I will be sharing my work related stuff – open education, education technology, my work with BCcampus or teaching with Royal Roads. That stuff all goes here.
To go along with that, I’ll begin tightening up my Facebook profile. Some of you whom I am connected with professionally I will likely suggest connecting via that page. I am going to be fairly ruthless with Facebook and limit it to family and very close friends. Please don’t be offended if you and I are no longer connected via my personal FB account. It’s me, not you.
There will likely be other changes in the future. This blog. I expect there will be changes here, but not sure what those will be yet. Likely another site. Twitter? Geez, who knows.
But I don’t know if it will make a difference. Can I ever take this space back and post stuff as me without there being context collapse? Can I have a public open voice online that doesn’t bleed over into my professional life? Do I even want that?
I always have to remind people that I am not an academic. Really, I am support staff. I don’t have the same reasons for participating in public spaces that academics and researchers do. The benefits and constraints are different. The context is different.
So maybe this is where I start. Why do I participate on social media as me? Why do I blog as me? The answer these days isn’t as obvious as it used to be.