Anja Merret
Anja Merret

The Presence Builder: Be careful how you present yourself online

This is the first of a few articles that will provide some advice on how to go about building your presence online. This Presence Builder will advise on such things as why your avatar choice is important, why your online name must be picked with caution to what you vote for on social networking sites, amongst many issues.

It doesn’t matter what your plans for your future are when starting online. You may want to just chat to friends, you may wish to build your professional profile or you might even plan an online business. Whatever you intend doing, be cautious and follow these guidelines.

At this stage you may be wondering why you would need to even consider any of this. After all you’ve always loved the name Miss Sexy Pink Pants and that pic of Barbie doll wearing pink hot pants only is just so you.

Don’t go there. Or at least not until you have thought it through and made a note of some advice you will find here. Really? Oh yes. Let me explain why.

A fascinating Google DC Talk on YouTube is a must view by anybody deciding to go onto the internet whether for fun or for business or for both. It is a very serious discussion on Cloud Computing.

If the thought of such a long discourse on technology scares you, then let me give you the two points out of the one and a half hour of content that is of utmost relevance to you.

But before we do that you might wonder what Cloud Computing is all about. For most of us we use it almost daily without even realising. Every time you sign onto Facebook you are using the Cloud.

The Cloud is about using an environment online that allows you to complete a string of tasks without having to use any software on your computer, except for your web browser. And once completed the results are saved onto an external server.

Some purists will complain here and say that when you upload your photographs from your camera or smart phone you are using software such as iPhoto or some other Windows type application. Sure you are.

However, once you bring your pics into Facebook you are now playing in the Cloud provided by Facebook. I read somebody’s blog that complained about the fact that Facebook was now just a collection of third-party applications. Well yes. It’s called Cloud Computing.

As a user you can pick from a huge bunch of applications to do stuff with. You can hug people, send a virtual gift, join a group, send messages, organise pictures, import your Twitter mini-wisdoms. And so much more.

You don’t need to leave Facebook for a whole bunch of fun. I got hooked on Poker a little while ago. No more, thank goodness! But only because the games were far too slow.

That’s just a quick note on Cloud Computing. Check here for more information if you are interested.

The point that I want to make about you and Cloud Computing is one of privacy and copyright. And this is where you come into the picture. It will answer your question as to why your online presence needs to be built cautiously and by you.

At this stage when on Facebook you have no guarantee, except for some words on Facebook’s terms and conditions, that your data is protected. In fact there have been many instances, not necessarily via Facebook only, where people’s private information has been viewed by folk that shouldn’t have seen it.

The second and probably far more important element of this Cloud Computing debate is who owns your information. Of course you own it. Not so quick Einstein.

According to laws out there, especially in the big industrialised countries where the internet is prevalent, once you upload your information to sit on another server as happens when you use Cloud Computing, it no longer belongs to you.

Wow. So all the information you have posted onto Facebook no longer belongs to you? That’s right. That’s what the law says at this moment. Facebook has the right to use your information as it wants, how it wants and for how long it wants to. And yes, they say they won’t! Ever tried to delete your account?

And this applies to any part of the internet where you store your information somewhere else. This is not only Facebook. It’s also your professional profile on LinkedIn or your selection of websites you have submitted to Digg or Delicious and your pictures you have posted to Flickr, your videos to YouTube, your e-mail on googlemail and the list goes on forever.

Before you smash up your computer with a baseball bat and cancel your broadband subscription let’s just have a look at what you can do about this. After all you can’t actually do without the internet any more, can you? More to come on this topic. Watch this space.